Is back pain weighing you down?

Plus: Why do women struggle more with weight loss than men?

Friday. In what felt like a personal attack on my childhood, Lunchables have come under fire after reports of concerning lead and sodium levels (Washington Post STORY HERE). Ugh—why can’t we have the things that make us happy? I thrived off those fake turkey circles, suspicious-looking cheese, and enriched flour crackers when I was in school. I mean, what better brain food than that? I came out okay. I think. 

But now you are telling me there was lead in my lunch? Ugh. You just can’t win. 

Speaking of feeling like you can’t win, back pain is one of those things that feels inevitable as you age. But does it have to be that way? Let’s dive in. 

Today’s Menu 🌿

  • Back Pain Shouldn’t Be A Life Sentence

  • Why Do Women Struggle With Weight Loss?

  • Be Careful With The Melatonin

  • The Daily Recipe Is Perfect For The Weekend!

  • 29 Healthy Snack Ideas You Will Actually Want To Eat

  • A Bonus Recipe For Protein Ice Cream

Read Time: 4 minutes

Get Ready Pain GIF by Rodney Dangerfield

Back Pain Shouldn’t Be A Forever Thing

Back pain is a lot like Starbucks—we’ve all tried it, it’s not great, but can you really avoid it? According to recent statistics, about 80% of people will experience low back pain at some point in their lives, with 25% having had it recently. It's the most common form of pain and the leading reason people visit the doctor or miss work. 

Worse, up to a quarter of those who experience it may never fully recover. That’s right—for every one in four people with back pain, the condition ends up being a life sentence. 

Back pain is more than just an ache; it impacts our entire life, limiting our ability to enjoy daily activities and, over time, reducing our health span and lifespan. This is because people in pain often move less, and this decrease in activity can lead to a host of other health issues.

The typical responses to managing back pain include medications, rest, or even surgery. However, these methods often fail to address the root cause of the pain and can lead to long-term dependency or additional health complications. It should go without saying, but getting put on pain meds or going under the knife are less than ideal “solutions.”

For instance, a study conducted by the University of Cincinnati Medical School followed about 1,500 workers with debilitating back pain. The study found that two years after treatment, 75% of those who underwent surgery still suffered from severe pain and were unable to work. Compare that to 67% of those who did not have surgery and could return to work. 

On top of that, surgery patients had a higher likelihood of experiencing complications and needing additional surgeries, as well as an increased dependency on opioids. Not good. 

Around 85% of back pain is categorized as "non-specific," meaning it isn't caused by an apparent medical condition like a disk injury or fracture but rather by factors related to our modern, sedentary lifestyle. 

There is some good news, though. Exercise has been shown to be an effective treatment for non-specific back pain. Not only is it cost-effective, but it also brings additional benefits such as improved overall health, happiness, and longevity. And as a bonus, there are no serious side effects, risk of addiction, or other complications. Exercise is all upside. 

So, what types of exercises are most beneficial for back pain? A recent study reviewed numerous forms of exercise and found that, while all exercise was useful, activities focusing on core stabilization and yoga were particularly effective. These exercises help by strengthening the muscles around the spine, improving posture, and increasing flexibility, all of which can alleviate pain.

However, it is still important to approach exercise with caution to avoid aggravating back pain. Overexercising or performing exercises incorrectly can actually do more harm than good. The key is to exercise within one's limits and allow for adequate rest and recovery. This approach helps gradually build strength and endurance without overloading the spine. That might sound complicated, but it just boils down to starting slow, listening to your body, and never just throwing your hands up and succumbing to a sedentary lifestyle.

The key takeaway? While back pain is a common and often debilitating condition, it doesn't have to be a life sentence. We can manage and even alleviate back pain by integrating thoughtful, targeted exercise into our daily routine. It's not about pushing through pain but understanding and working within our physical limits to improve our health and quality of life. 

This proactive approach to health can transform our aging experience, allowing us to live more fully, with less pain and more joy. I don’t know about you, but that sounds like a plan to me.

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"Health is not valued till sickness comes." 

Thomas Fuller