It is not what happens to us that determines our character, our experience, our karma, and our destiny—but how we relate to what happens,” says Surya Das, an American lama in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. This is true in the case of pain too. Pain is inevitable—it’s part of being alive and all of us experience it to some extent or the other. However, one should distinguish pain from suffering because the latter is optional.
Back pain seems to be the biggest bane of modern society, which is high tech albeit sedentary. Most experts try to address the last straw that broke the camel’s back, or in this case yours, without looking at the larger picture. Expecting instant relief is the order of the day, both for the sufferer and the healer. For a long-term solution, we need to understand the why rather than the what and hence lifestyles need to be understood and addressed. The good news is that you have the power to change your condition. Regular physical activity and exercise, along with changes in eating and other lifestyle-related habits, can make a difference.
There are two sets of people responsible for back pain being such a big nuisance in our lives.
The first person is you, the sufferer. At various stages in our lives, from birth to retirement, we all make decisions that lead to back pain. We all have options, and somehow we all decide to not do much to change our lethargic approach to life.
The second person is anyone who has directly or indirectly contributed to the environment that you live in. This includes your parents, teachers, children, partners and employers. These roles are important because you could also be in one of these positions, affecting someone else’s life.
Since there is no single big reason for long-term back pain, we need to look at the multiple smaller things that add up and address them. Be it sitting in bad posture for long periods in poorly designed chairs from a young age, carrying heavy school bags , using smartphones and laptops for very long hours, or sleeping with pillows, the neck and back pay a price for this. Also, there is no formula, or one-solution -cures all either. Multiple triggers need to be identified and addressed.
We all are so busy living for tomorrow that we forget to live for today. We have one body, we need to take care of it. Being physically active shouldn’t be counter-intuitive. It should come to us naturally. Start by wanting to get better and start moving now.
Rajat Chauhan is the founder of the Back 2 Fitness chain of clinics and La Ultra-The High, a 333km ultra marathon in Ladakh, and is the author of The Pain Handbook: A Non-Surgical Way To Managing Back, Neck And Knee Pain.