Have you ever fallen asleep on your side and then woken up several hours later and your hips ache? I have that, and I’ve not been on my hips. They ache, they hurt, they drain me.
For years and years I have suffered from lower back and hip pains. This goes back way before I was diagnosed too! It’s stiff, it aches, I feel like those areas get ‘stuck’. Some mornings I struggle getting out of bed. If someone was a fly on the wall I bet they’d get a good laugh watching me rolling around trying to get myself from laying down to standing.
I have done my back out a few times too, and that is not fun..and quite often I feel like I’m walking around just waiting for it to happen again, and again. I have seen physiotherapists, I have been for deep deep tissue massages, I stretch, I lift correctly, I am cautious with how I move. I even asked my doctor to refer me for an xray when it was at its worst, only to be told I am too young for such problems. Although he did send a referral off, but of course, that got denied.
A few months ago I decided to try something new, and I bought a nail mat (as it is called in Swedish, me and my direct translations), which actually is called an acupressure mat in English. The mat is about the length of my back and with it came a pillow perfect for the neck or other slightly arched areas. At first I struggled, it was uncomfortable and itchy, but I’d read about all this already and about the different stages one goes through while laying on it, and in all honesty, I was open to anything that might help with the pain so decided to bare with it.
(Unfortunately I cannot find the exact timeline for the experience that I found before I tried the mat, but this one is close enough. The first minute can be a drag, I find I want to move, or lift my body from the spikes and place them somewhere else, although I know that if I just get through these feelings I will find my body in a nice relaxed state.)
Several different websites point out the benefits of using a mat, the most reuccuring ones being:
- Stimulating/increases feel-good endorphin production
- Promoting/stimulating blood circulation
- Reducing/relieving pain and muscle tension
- Inducing stress relief
- Increasing energy
- Improving sleep
I have been using my mat for a few months now. Every night before I go to sleep I lay on my mat for about 10 minutes, some nights more if I feel I need it, and I use it for the parts of my body that ache. I have really noticed how this helps my body relax and it actually helps me fall asleep. I found that when I get through the first uncomfortable stage, my body starts relaxing and it really feels like the pins are stimulating and sending more blood out to my aching muscles. This is just my opinion and something that has helped me. Once I remove the mat and lay in my bed it feels like I am laying on a cloud, and then I slowly drift off. Obviously I am aware that not everyone will experience it the same way, but I am just so happy to have found something that I feel works, and maybe it can help others too? It is meant to help with all sorts of things, maybe check it out?
The last week or so I have been a bit silly and not been using my mat at all, and deary me, I have felt it. My back and hips are so uncomfortable. I have such a tight neck, from my shoulderblads, shoulders all the way up to my skull. I really am going to get back on that mat today!
Another thing I have been using recently is a back stretcher. That makes it sound like some torture tool, but I promise you it is not. Around the same time as I got my mat, I also started using the stretcher, which actually was a gift from my mum quite some time ago and I just haven’t gotten round to using it. I use this every day after I have done my daily yoga. I put on some nice meditation music, or calming sounds, lay down comfortably, set a timer for 5 minutes and have a 5 minute relataxtion, meditation, moment of focused breathing, while stretching out my back. This handy little thing has 3 different arch levels, so I started slow. My physiotherapist recommended every time I did my back in that I should lay with a rolled up towel under my lower back for a bit every day, as well as doing backward bends/cobra, so this backstretcher is just a different way of doing it. It also has a few “lumps” which are placed evenly along the board as acupressure points along both sides of the spine.
I have found that this routine of using both of these things, even just for such a short amount of time every day, has been one of the very few things that actually helps eliviate some of the hip and back pain I experience daily.
I showed my mum the pictures where I have highlighted where my pain sits, and her reaction spoke a million words. Despite living with me, she hasn’t realised quite what it is I go through. Yup, I still haven’t really mastered the art of letting people know when I am truly in pain. I also think my pain threshold is very high, as well as the fact that I get so used to constantly being uncomfortable in my body. I say uncomfortable, because yes, it is probably pain, but it isn’t the excrutiating pain I experience when things are really bad, it is more of a humming pain, just there in the background, leaving me feeling uncomfortable in my body no matter what I do. This uncomfortable feeling in my body also leaves me feeling very drained so much of the time.
Like I said, these little tips are things that help me, and I am so silly not doing them, there is no excuse, especially since they only take up about 15 minutes of my day, spread out, and involve me laying down and resting. Silly silly me!