Wedding season can be a big source of stress for a variety of reasons. Getting the right outfit, picking out the perfect gift, finding a date, and just the overall financial stress can be a lot to handle for any wedding goer (or the bride and groom themselves!).
But for some, wedding season is stressful for a whole different reason – back pain. If you have chronic back pain, or tend to get twinges in your back this time of year, you may be absolutely dreading the next wedding you have to go to. It’s not much fun to be silently suffering in pain while everyone else is celebrating and partying pain-free.
The good news is that there are plenty of tips and tricks you can keep in mind to help you get through this wedding season despite your back pain. No need to dread something that’s a wonderful occasion to celebrate love and life! Now read on, and get back out on that dance floor!
First of all, let’s break down what back pain really is and where it comes from. Typically, back pain is classified by where it is felt on the back. The cervical spine is the neck area, which holds the weight of your head. Next down the line is the thoracic spine, which is the upper back. The lower back is referred to as the lumbar spine, which contributes to range of motion and carries the weight of your torso. Finally, the sacral spine is down by the pelvis and connects to the sacroiliac joints.
Any sort of uncomfortable sensation, including numbness, stinging, dull aches, or sudden twinges, can be classified as back pain. Oftentimes, it is concentrated in the upper or lower back, but it can radiate outward to any part of the back. If you have neck pain, you’re also likely to have a headache. If you have sacral pain, your range of motion is likely very limited.
Typically, back pain is a sign of an underlying condition that needs fixing, usually by a chiropractor depending on the severity of the condition. The most common cause of back pain is a subluxation or misalignment of the spinal column. However, it could also be caused by injury to muscle tissue, a pinched nerve, or a disease like arthritis, scoliosis, or some sort of degenerative condition.
If any of these conditions aren’t treated properly, they could get much worse over time or even become chronic. That’s why it’s so important to get regular check-ups from a chiropractor.
Unfortunately, you can’t really get a chiropractic adjustment in the middle of a wedding celebration. However, there are a few things you can do to help alleviate and/or prevent back pain during a wedding that are chiro-approved and sure to help you feel comfortable and pain-free during this beautiful season!
First and foremost, stay away from the heels. Ladies, I know this can be difficult. It’s so tempting, and they’re so gorgeous, and they make you look great. But for the sake of your spine (which, in our opinion, is a bit more important), please avoid them at all costs.
High heels can cause unnatural alignments in your lower back, leading to overcompensation in your upper back, and a whole host of issues and pain. Walking and, even worse, dancing in them can cause nearly irreparable damage to your spinal health, especially if you already suffer from back pain.
If you absolutely must, keep them around 1 inch, and make sure to get some orthotic insoles to help correct any overcompensation and alleviate back pain.
Guys, this goes for you too. While your dress shoes generally aren’t quite as damaging as high heels, you can still fall way out of alignment from a brand new, yet uncomfortable, pair of shoes. New shoes that haven’t been fully broken in can cause pain in your feet, hips, and back, and that won’t help you celebrate. Get some insoles, and make sure your shoes are comfortable enough to dance the night away in.
On that note, have fun, but be careful on the dance floor. Sudden motions and movements can wreak havoc on misaligned spines or tense muscles, and could make your condition much worse. Mix a few drinks in there and you may not even realize the repercussions of these movements until the next morning.
Stick to dances you know won’t force you to move your body in ways it normally wouldn’t. Avoid jumps, sudden twists, hair flips (terrible for the neck), and any others you think might hurt tomorrow. Don’t worry – bopping along to the beat can be just as fun as going all-out. All that matters is that you’re doing it with friends and family!
Also, make sure to watch your posture during the wedding – not just in the photos. Sure, a healthy, upright posture can make us look confident and slimmer in those timeless wedding photos, but in the long run, it will also help maintain the health of your spine, and help you avoid back pain.
Keep your chin up, shoulders back, and tailbone tucked for optimal spinal alignment. It may feel unnatural or posed at first (after all, many of us only align ourselves this way for photos), but it will make such a difference for your back pain and overall health.
Of course, if all else fails, bring a bag of little emergency supplies if the pain is absolutely unbearable. Here are some essentials:
So it’s the day after the wedding and you realized you’ve made some sort of horrible mistake. Your back pain is much worse, and you’re not sure how to fix it. Luckily, a chiropractor can help you manage and alleviate your back pain over time, depending on the underlying condition that needs to be addressed.
Normally, a simple adjustment regimen can provide a lot of relief if the misalignment was causing any nerve pinching or muscle tension. They may also integrate chiropractic massage therapy to alleviate muscle tension, or if the condition is more serious, physical therapy might be another option. There’s plenty of resources out there to help you feel better and get through wedding season pain-free, but a lot of the work actually has to come from little lifestyle changes you can make every day.
Each day, try to carve out some time for stretching out your lower back. This will help loosen up the muscles that may be tight in the area. It will also help with circulation and making sure the affected area is getting enough nutrients and blood flow. Here are a few of the best stretches for your back:
If you feel comfortable and strong enough to exercise, there are also a few that target back muscles to build them up and help them stay strong over time. These should only be done with your pain managed, and stretching ALWAYS comes first. Here are a few useful exercises for back strength:
While these stretches and exercises will help you build up your back and keep it limber, the best way to prevent back pain is to live an overall healthy lifestyle, not just at the gym. Maintaining a healthy BMI (body mass index, or the proportion of fat to muscle in your body) will prevent back pain because your body will be strong enough to support itself. When you have an imbalance of fat to muscle, that can put undue pressure on your spine, causing unnecessary pain, and a lot of limitations in your everyday life – especially at weddings!
For your best bet at preventing back pain, eat healthy, sleep well, exercise a few times a week. Maintaining a healthy weight to prevent back pain will come easily if you follow these simple steps.
Although wedding season can be a source of stress and anxiety for many reasons, back pain doesn’t have to be one of them. With regular chiropractic check-ups and adjustments, comfortable shoes, a healthy posture, some mindfulness on the dancefloor, an emergency kit, and some practical lifestyle changes, you can enjoy this wonderful occasion pain-free. Wedding season should be a celebration of love and happiness, not a dreaded event for guests or the bridal party itself. Employ some of these tips, tricks, and practices, and see if they make a difference for your back pain so you can get back to enjoying your life!
Dr. Brent Wells has been a trusted chiropractor since moving his family from Oregon to Alaska back in 1998 and founded Better Health Chiropractic & Physical Rehab – B.S. from Univ. of Nevada, Doctorate from Western States Chiropractic College, volunteer for Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Foundation, and member of the American Chiropractic Association. As a chiropractor his focus is on family, including his 3 children and wife of 20+ years, his clinics, and ongoing education.