Stress doesn't cause back pain on its own, but it can drain your health in a number of ways. It ages you faster, weakens your immune system, increases your blood pressure, and makes it harder to control your weight because stress often leads to unhealthy food choices.
What's more, stress causes muscle tension that can make back pain worse. And stress may slow your recovery because unchecked stress makes it harder for your body to bounce back from injury.
But you don't have to let stress get the best of your back. Adequate sleep and exercise, and a nutrient-rich diet all boost the body's stress-coping abilities. And regularly practicing a few simple stress-reduction techniques will help your body cope better with the physical effects of stress.
Here are some simple activities you can do regularly to help keep stress from aggravating back troubles:
Deep breathing: Taking deep, controlled breaths helps calm your mind and sends relaxation cues to the rest of your body -- including your back.
Progressive muscle relaxation: Progressively flexing and relaxing each muscle in your body is a great way to relieve muscle tension.
Guided imagery: Picturing yourself in a calm, pleasant environment -- like on a deserted beach or in a sunny flower garden -- can instantly put you in a comfier frame of mind.