Your lower back especially is a very vulnerable area, prone to injury, particularly as we age. The wear and tear of living eventually weakens the skeletal structure, causing bone loss and disintegrated or displaced discs.
And you’re not alone: 8 out of 10 Americans experience back pain at some time, making it the fifth most common reason to visit the doctor.
According to Chinese medicine, bones, the skeletal structure, and the lower back in particular, are all a part of the Kidney Bladder Network.
As we age, kidney energy tends to diminish, especially with an unhealthy diet, excessive mental or physical strain, smoking and overindulgence in drugs and alcohol.
Weakness of the Kidney Network can result in lower back pain, as well as other age-related ailments.
Replenishing the Kidney Network through qi gong exercises, herbs, and a proper diet can go a long way in slowing down the depletion – even regenerating certain aspects of kidney energy.
1. Diet: bring back healthy basics
As you know, overall health starts with a well-balanced diet, rich in vegetables and fruits, whole grains, and organic animal protein. But because bones are made of calcium and other minerals, the skeletal structure has additional requirements. So be sure to include foods high in calcium and vitamin D, such as broccoli, chestnuts, clams, dark green vegetables, salt-water fish (flounder, salmon, sardines), shrimp, mussels and soybeans, as well as nuts and seeds. Cut out carbonated soft drinks, alcohol, and smoking. Yeast and sugars, especially processed, bleached sugars, should be eliminated.
2. Bone Health Broth
To strengthen bones and stimulate regeneration, you can make a calcium broth using an oxtail or thighbone. Stew the bones with onions, garlic, tomatoes and ginger over low heat for at least an hour. Drink a large bowl daily for a month, and you should start to feel stronger and more solid in your structure.
3. Ease pain with an anti-inflammatory mocktail
If your back is feeling tweaked out after some heavy hefting, take a break! Make a tasty non-alcoholic cocktail by mixing equal parts unsweetened black cherry juice with dark grape juice, two fruits that have powerful anti-inflammatory properties. Drink three to six glasses daily until the pain subsides.
4. Supplements to support your back
The enzyme bromelain found in pineapple is a natural anti-inflammatory and can help ease muscle and joint pain. Vitamin B complex and folate can also help ease symptoms.
You can support healthy bones and joints with glucosamine, chondroitin sulfate, and MSM. Also, calcium, combined with magnesium citrate, vitamin D, and boron can help strengthen bones.
5. Herbal therapy
Mother nature has a wide array of herbs to help alleviate discomfort. Turmeric, the spice that gives curry its recognizable orange color, contains an anti-inflammatory active component called curcumin. And the traditional Chinese remedy for back and joint pain is the herb eucommia, which strengthens bones, tendons, and ligaments. Other herbs to help you out of pain include ginger, valerian, and white willow bark.
Bonus Tip: You can get a powerful boost of many bone-supportive herbs, including eucommia, in our family’s formulated Dura-Bone.
6. Exercise regularly
It’s imperative to maintain a healthy weight and keep the muscles surrounding bones and ligaments strong. And research shows that regular exercise as we age can slow the progress of degenerative bone disorders. So I recommend a combination of weight-bearing exercises in the form of daily 30-minute walks, moderate weight training, and tai chi or qi gong to build endurance and flexibility.
7. Correct way to lift
To lift heavy objects, don’t bend from the waist. Bend from the knees and squat, pulling in your stomach muscles, holding the object close to your body as you stand. Don’t twist your body while lifting. If you can, push rather than pull heavy objects.
Whether it’s lifting piles of snow, mounds of soil or bags of groceries, the smallest movement or strain can make your back “go out.” So your best course is to be conscious of how important your back is and to act accordingly. Don’t wait until your back reminds you!
May you live long, live strong, and live happy!
Dr. Mao Shing Ni, best known as Dr. Mao is a bestselling author, doctor of Oriental Medicine, and board certified anti-aging expert. He has recently appeared on “The Ricki Lake Show,” “Dr. Oz,” and contributes to Yahoo Health and The Huffington Post. Dr. Mao practices acupuncture, nutrition, and Chinese medicine with his associates at the Tao of Wellness in Santa Monica, Newport Beach, and Pasadena. Dr. Mao and his brother, Dr. Daoshing Ni, founded the Tao of Wellness more than 25 years ago in addition to founding Yo San University in Marina del Rey. To make an appointment for evaluation and treatment call 310.917.2200 or you can email Dr. Mao at email@example.com. To subscribe to his tip-filled newsletter, visit www.taoofwellness.com.