Back pain and general muscle soreness are common problems for many people. Understanding correct force postures and maintaining your musculoskeletal system will help to both treat and prevent pain and disease.
What causes musculoskeletal pain?
The most common causes of musculoskeletal pain are soft tissue injuries (such as car accidents and sports injuries) and aging. In addition, qi stagnation, blood stasis, poor posture, lack of exercise, dietary factors, mental factors and other diseases such as cancer, gastrointestinal discomfort, dysmenorrhea, etc. can cause musculoskeletal pain.
The above factors cause muscle contraction, an accumulation of inflammatory substances, vasospasm, lactic acid accumulation and nerve excitement. They also lead to spasms of the muscle and blood vessels which are not easily relieved, causing more metabolites to develop. Such an abundance of inflammatory substances is too much to be taken away by normal blood flow, leading to a vicious cycle of muscle contraction and metabolism dysfunction. Then, the body will feel soreness, pain, pressure and tingling. So, any methods which can increase blood circulation would be excellent ways to treat musculoskeletal pain!
What are the correct postures to prevent musculoskeletal pain?
The most common musculoskeletal pains, such as back pain, are due to poor posture. Being aware and practicing correct posture during all activities can prevent back pain, but most especially when:
- Picking up items
Bend your knees instead of bending your back. Avoid lifting heavy items with a bent back and straight legs, and do not twist the body when lifting. Make sure the items are close to the body and practice lifting through the legs. In addition, try not to lift items that are too heavy higher than your chest. Next time, ask a friend to help you.
- Standing and walking
A good walking position is with a raised head and lowered chin, with the toes facing forward and wearing a pair of comfortable shoes. When you are standing, do not stand too long in one posture. Avoid bending back with straight legs. Do not wear high heels or flat shoes to walk or stand for a long period of time.
- Sitting position
Chair height should be moderate in order to keep the knees and buttocks at the same height, with the feet resting easily on the ground. Your back should be close to the back of the chair. Pay attention to the height of the chair armrest, and make sure your elbows rest naturally on each armrest. Do not sit in a chair that is too high or too far away from your desk in order to prevent your upper body from leaning forward and your back from arching. Try not to slouch in the chair. This has the potential to cause cervical spondylosis and numbness of the hands. Such problems most often occur in people who use the computer for long periods of time.
- Driving a car
When in the car, make sure your seat is moved forward enough to keep the knees as high as the waist. If you experience back pain while driving, consider protecting your lower back by using seat cushions. Do not sit too far away from the pedal — this could cause excessive stretching of the body which can impact the curvature of the spine.
A good sleep is crucial to easing back pain. Make sure you are using a firm mattress. When side sleeping, slightly bend your legs with a pillow placed between the knees. If you sleep on your back, try placing a pillow or a pad under the knees.
Traditional Chinese Medicine for Musculoskeletal Pain
Acupuncture, with the theory of “Pain to Shu,” finds the appropriate point of pain to do the needling, which often has a magical effect on pain. Modern studies have shown that acupuncture can improve blood circulation, increase endorphin levels and inhibit nerve conduction in order to relieve pain.
Tuina, which is a type of traditional Asian bodywork therapy, can soothe fascia, activate meridians, promote muscle rigidity, improve fibrosis, relieve pain and fatigue and restore the original muscle function. Asian bodywork combined with acupressure can often achieve a better effect than either modality used alone.
Herbal Fumigation and Hot Compress Therapy
Herbal fumigation and hot compress therapy integrate hyperthermia and traditional Chinese herbal medicine to increase muscle blood circulation, reduce pain and restore the original muscle function.
Chinese Herbal Medicine
Traditional Chinese medicine teaches that pain comes from the stasis or malnutrition of qi (energy) and blood. Chinese herbal medicine can adjust the patient’s constitution to improve blood circulation and PH and strengthen bones and tendons. Commonly used herbal formulas for the treatment of pain can regulate qi, stimulate blood circulation, dispel wind, drain cold and dampness and tonify the liver and kidney.
This article is written by Dr. Jing Fan, a practitioner at AOMA Clinics. AOMA Acupuncture Clinics offers all of the above Chinese Medicine treatment options, as well as the benefit of an herbal medicine store on site.