When was the last time you got lost in thought, staring at tall grass blowing in the wind? Do you remember the smells from the last time you were near pine trees? Are you fortunate enough to have maple trees that you can tap in the spring for syrup? 

Before we dive into solutions, let’s briefly understand back pain. There is rarely a single cause to your low back pain. The symptoms are physical and emotional; as are the factors that contribute to an episode. These factors include excessive chair sitting, job stress, or aches and pains related to your active lifestyle. This is why the key lies in addressing the root causes rather than merely masking the symptoms. Finding freedom from your low back pain will take a journey. And that’s where self-care steps and the Movement Method come in.

The absence of a relationship with nature is making us sicker. 

 Being in nature has positive effects on symptoms of depression, anxiety, adhd, heart disease, Alzheimer’s. The list goes on. If forest bathing is “good” for everything, that makes it seem kind of like an actual human necessity to me. Like we need to spend time in nature. 

 There are many articles covering the scientific merit behind natural mindfulness, also known as forest bathing, shinrin-yoku, or nature therapy. That’s not what I’m attempting to cover in this article. My intention is to convince you to try this activity because it meets an incredible array of your needs. 

 Many of the impacts are on stress levels, and your ability to manage stress. Stress is a key factor in so many health issues, including pain and injury, that we would be irresponsible clinicians if we didn’t make sure you were also managing your stress effectively. Everything you try to do is harder if you’re too stressed out.

 At Twin Cities Movement, we’ve experienced many lower back injuries that seemed very challenging to treat at first, until we introduced a helpful stress-relief technique like a breathing exercise. These anxious and reasonably frightened patients quickly relaxed with the technique that suited them, and we were able to make much more progress with their injury.

 Since we made that connection, we’ve been pushing the importance of truly taking consistent action to reduce your stress. Many of us are more stressed and overwhelmed than ever. These levels of stress can certainly lead to lasting health impacts, including lower back pain. 

 So why am I telling you to go take a walk in the woods? 

 Because it is a positive, natural way to counteract the effects of stress. Because it is enriching to your senses, and you will probably feel good enough to want to do it again. Because it is very easy to act like you are a part of something bigger than yourself, and even easier to feel like you’re a part of something bigger than yourself. Because you are nature, and you will benefit from a conscious relationship to yourself. Because nature and spirituality go hand in hand, and we could all do to get away from our material culture once in a while (probably more often than any of us do). 

 All of these “benefits” are actually human needs. We need to feel safe and sheltered, and secure, we need food and clean water. We need sleep. We need movement. We need to use our senses extensively in order to keep them, not to mention to improve and grow ourselves. We need to feel like we’re a part of something bigger than ourselves. We need some sort of spirituality. 

 That is why I feel that it’s actually the absence of nature that’s harming us. Or at least I choose to live that way and spend as much time as I can deepening my relationship with the nature around me. That is why I think you should stop reading this article right away, and go for a walk in the woods. 

 In two weeks I’ll have a follow-up article covering three exercises you can use right away to start deepening your own relationship with your environment.