7 Mobile Apps You Should Be Using For Your Back Pain In 2018
Your mobile phone can be a great aid in the fight against chronic lower back pain. Find my review of 7 must-have mobile apps for people with back pain here.
It seems like the whole world is glued to their mobile phones nowadays.
Phone zombies are everywhere!
It's clearly a vital human requirement in the modern age to be able to see photos of what a friend has cooked for dinner, go on a swipe dating frenzy, and watch funny dog videos on YouTube.
However while those things are probably not going to add much value to our lives, in other ways our phones can be incredibly handy.
Whether it's getting directions, checking the weather, learning a new recipe, cheating on a pub quiz (so I hear!) or finding answers to even the most obscure questions on Google, the possibilities are endless.
But did you know that there are many apps available in 2017 that can really help you to manage your chronic lower back pain?
Well there are, and in this article I'm going to show you the best ones around.
These are all apps that I either use myself, or have downloaded and don't need to use on a regular basis personally but would still heartily recommend to others who have slightly different pain needs to my own.
You can click on any of the above to skip straight to that particular review.
Otherwise read on and go through them one by one.
My Pain Diary: Chronic Pain and Symptom Tracker App
$4.99 one-off cost
- Track and manage your chronic pain symptoms to gain insights into triggers and patterns.
- Track multiple areas of the pain experience (including pain intensity, pain type, triggers, duration, symptoms and remedies).
- The app automatically tracks and logs the weather via your phone's GPS to see if the climate is affecting you.
- Create graphs over set periods to see if there are any patterns or trends that you may otherwise not have noticed.
- Create PDFs of all your information that you can email or print out and take to show your doctor.
If you're anything like me, you'll know how hard it can be to describe your back pain symptoms and experience to your doctor.
Chronic pain rarely stays consistent from one day to the next, which makes it so hard to track and sum up so another person can understand exactly what you are going through.
And you can spend so much time and energy trying to ignore pain or distract yourself away from it that you might struggle to even be able to explain it to yourself!
However one good way to monitor your pain and become aware of any events that may trigger it is to keep a pain diary.
By noting down how you feel, your pain levels, what you are doing and how you try to help yourself a few times per day, you can get a picture of what things are helping you and what things are making your pain worse.
And this will help you to manage your pain better.
For instance, one study found that people with chronic pain that kept a pain diary over a 9 week period were less stressed and had greater control over their pain levels than those that didn't (25).
This is why the My Pain Diary app is absolutely essential.
It was created by a chronic pain sufferer as a way of tracking , managing and reporting his own symptoms and experience, and he's done a great job as everything is covered here.
It's by far the best and most versatile app of it's kind, and you can customise to fit your own unique pain experience down to a tee.
And despite it being highly customisable and covering a lot of bases, it is super easy to use and set up.
Firstly you choose which type of chronic pain you have.
There are preset options like lower back pain, fibromyalgia, and headache, however you can manually add any ailment you like.
You can also choose to track as many as you like at a time, so if you suffer from back pain and headaches you can track both and then see if they affect each other.
Once you've chosen one, you are ready to make your first entry.
You can add as much or as little detail to each entry into your pain diary as you like, depending on what things you want to keep track of.
There is a pain scale that runs from 0 (pain free) to 10 (pain makes you pass out).
Then there are further options where you can add the following:
- Location of the pain on your body.
- Type of pain (throbbing, dull, sharp, etc).
- Pain triggers (lack of sleep, stress, standing, sitting, etc).
- Remedies (exercise, massage, rest, etc).
- Symptoms (if you have nausea, swelling, fatigue, etc).
- Duration of pain.
- Amount of sleep you got the night before.
- An area where you can add your notes (I like to use this one to write down how I'm feeling so I can see if there is a link between my pain and my moods and emotions).
Each of these options come with preset choices, but again you can manually add your own choices too, meaning you can record exactly what is happening to you.
And the app will automatically log the weather at the time of your entry through your phone's GPS system, so you can see if the climate plays any part in how you feel.
Once you have completed your entry it is added to a calendar, and each time you add a new entry afterwards it will also be added to the same calendar.
Each day on the calendar will show as a colour depending on your average level of pain for that day (red, amber or green for bad, average, good), so you can see at a quick glance if you have a run of good or bad days.
As you get into the habit of adding these entries every day (I'd recommend keeping to set times, and maybe adding a new entry 3 times per day), over the course of a few weeks or months you will build up a really rich data set that will show you just how your pain has been.
You can also put this data into graphs (by selecting whatever of the metrics you want to compare) which will give you a visual of every trend and how it has performed over time.
This is great, as a graph can highlight triggers (one thing affecting another) which you may otherwise be unable to find a link between on your own.
For example, your pain may be worse on cold days, or when you have been sitting down, or when you feel angry.
While you can have your suspicions about these, the data you have put into the app can show you clearly whether there is a link or not.
This helps you to manage your pain as you can adapt your behaviours to eliminate these triggers.
And this is also great news for your doctor!
It must be so difficult for them to be able to diagnose and treat our problems, especially with chronic pain that can be hard to pinpoint and find a cause for.
However with the Pain Diary app you can create PDF reports which sum up the findings from the previous few weeks and months.
You can either email these your doctor, or print them out and take them with you to your next appointment.
Not only does this make it easier for them to see what has been going on, it also takes the stress off of us having to try to explain it correctly.
So for me, this app is a winner all round and a must-have for anyone who is interested in understanding and being able to better manage their chronic pain.
It has already helped over 90k people, and I'm sure that number will continue to grow.
- The best app on the market to help you track your chronic pain symptoms and triggers.
- Can be customised to suit your exact pain experience.
- You can keep track of everything you need to to be able to identify patterns and triggers.
- The graphs help you see trends and connections that may pass you by otherwise.
- PDF reports makes it easier for your doctor to understand your problem and offer you the correct treatment.
Web MD Pain Coach App
- Covers various chronic pain conditions.
- Set goals to help your pain in relation to food, rest, exercise, mood and treatments.
- Includes 588 tips that have been approved by Web MD doctors.
- Access to 379 articles that contain information and advice on all areas of chronic pain.
- Also includes a pain diary, but nowhere near as good as the Pain Diary app.
The free Web MD Pain Coach app is a really handy addition to your phone.
While it also has a pain diary feature it is nowhere near as good as the Pain Diary app, so I would highly recommend you use that one instead to keep track of your pain.
Where this app is so good however is in the sheer amount of advice and information on chronic pain that it contains.
And it's not limited to just chronic back pain either.
You can also find information on how to treat and manage fibromyalgia, migraines, neck pain, nerve pain, osteoarthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis.
Once you select which chronic pain condition you are suffering from, you are taken to a screen where you can set goals, view a library of articles, or view tips on how to live with chronic pain in everyday situations.
The goals section is great for giving you ideas on how to manage your pain and the motivation to keep going.
You can set goals within 5 lifestyle categories (food, rest, exercise, mood, and treatments).
Each category has 6-7 pre-set goals that have been approved by Web MD doctors as being helpful for your chronic pain.
Once you choose one you want to follow, you set the duration of the goal, and the app will allow you to track your progress and remind you of what you need to do.
These goals can help you get into good habits, and educate you to adopt the right behaviours.
And speaking of education, the library and tips sections are jammed pack full of good information and advice.
The library contains articles that cover 5 categories in the back pain section (back pain, live better with chronic pain, pain management techniques, treatment and care for chronic pain, and understanding chronic pain).
Each is informative and full of good advice that you can use to help you in all areas of your life.
Similarly there are almost 600 tips linked to the goals categories that cover pretty much everything related to the pain experience you could possibly think of!
There are tips to help you sleep, improve your posture, exercise better, eat healthier, drive without pain, and..... well you get the idea!
So as a source of free information into chronic back pain, I think this app is well worth downloading and reading through when you need help.
After all, the more you know about your condition, the better placed you are to be able to manage it.
- You can set doctor recommended goals that will help your pain.
- The app will keep you motivated to complete these goals.
- It's also packed full of articles and tips that contain a wealth of information on all areas of the chronic pain experience.
Down Dog App (Yoga)
Free to use (with an optional upgrade to a membership of $3.99 per month)
- Provides the closest thing to the actual experience of taking a yoga class in a studio.
- New vinyasa flow sequences every time you log in. You'll never see the same one twice.
- 3 sequence types to choose from (full practice, on your feet, and restorative).
- 4 levels (beginner 1, beginner 2, intermediate, and advanced).
- Set practice time for between 15-80 minutes.
- Clear demonstrations of all the poses with easy to follow instructions.
- A fantastic music soundtrack to your practice including contemporary artists such as Bon Iver and The Kooks.
- This music is tailored to your workout and constantly updated. You'll never hear the same order twice.
Yoga is a fantastic tool to have in your possession in the fight against chronic lower back pain.
And practising yoga regularly will not only help you to become happier, healthier and more active.
It can also help you to become stronger, more flexible, sleep better, lower your stress levels, improve your posture and give you more energy.
Yoga is the bomb and personally I love it!
However the classes can be expensive, may not be appealing to everyone, and in today's busy world it can be hard to find the time to get to one.
Which is where this fantastic app comes in.
Down Dog brings you fully customisable vinyasa flow yoga classes that provide a mixture of strength, flexibility and balance, which are the closest thing you'll get to doing a real yoga class in your own home.
It has been created by a trio of yoga teachers and enthusiasts from Seattle, and it's easy to see how they've improved on every other yoga app currently on the market (you can read about them here if you are interested).
They've designed the software so you never have to do the same yoga sequence. Everytime you log on you will be given something different to do.
So unlike other yoga apps that have a set number of yoga sequences that you'll quickly get through, you'll never get bored with Down Dog.
And this is one of the things that makes it feel like you are part of a real yoga class.
The constant variety will keep you on your toes and make you feel like you're making real progress.
And the variety doesn't end there.
You can customise your yoga practice to suit what you want to do that day by adjusting the type of sequence, the length of the class, and the level.
There are 3 types of sequence available.
The 'full practice' option will run you through the typical sequence of a yoga class (warm-up, standing poses, floor poses, relaxing deep stretches and ending with a resting meditation savasana).
However if you're in the mood for something strong and energetic you can choose the 'on your feet' option, which will focus solely on the strong postures and give you a good workout.
And if you want to relax you can choose the 'restorative' option, which will involve relaxing floor stretches (and is perfect for getting you in a restful mood before sleep).
In each of these options you can choose one of four levels to match your skill level (beginner 1, beginner 2, intermediate, and advanced), so everyone can get a great yoga workout no matter their level of experience.
Each class can be set for between 15 and 80 minutes, so there is no excuse for not being able to fit in your practice!
And this brings me on to the other thing that this app does better than any other.
Most yoga apps or online classes are accompanied by a dreadful background music that makes it feel like you are stuck in a lift as you do your practice!
However Down Dog provide an awesome playlist that includes contemporary artists such as Bon Iver, The Kooks and Jose Gonzalez.
I enjoy their selections so much it's almost worth downloading for the music alone!
The playlist is especially compiled to match up to the intensity and rhythym of the yoga sequence that you have selected, so it will help you to move into the poses.
And the best part?
Just like the sequences the music is constantly updated, so you'll never hear the same playlist twice.
How cool is that?
This all adds to the constant freshness of this app and this is what makes it totally unique.
It's also a breeze to use, even for a total beginner to yoga.
Each pose is demonstrated in a sequence of photos and with clear guidance from Adrienne the yoga teacher, so you'll have no trouble getting the hang of it.
If you need extra help there are also links in the app to each pose which will take you to a YouTube video where Adrienne will demonstrate exactly what you should be doing.
Adrienne's voice is warm and friendly thoughout, and her instructions are easy to understand and follow.
And a good feature of theses sequences is that she doesn't just focus on moving through the postures, she also helps you to get your breathing in sync, which is essential to gain the maximum benefits from yoga.
So all in all I can't recommend this app highly enough if you want to try yoga in the comfort of your own home.
And quite amazingly it is free to use!
This free option is plenty for you to get by with and begin to practice yoga on a regular basis.
Once you are into the groove you could look at upgrading to a monthly membership, which Down Dog offers for $3.99 per month.
For this you get the following extra features:
You can select the type of music playlist to go along with your class (default option that plays in the free version is 'alt beats', but as a member you can also select acoustic, instrumental, soft instrumental, or none).
You can also set the pace with which your yoga class runs at (free setting is normal, but as a member you can also choose slowest, slower, faster and fastest).
And finally you can select a boost to focus on a certain area more during the sequence (aerobic, flexibility, core, twists, backbends, standing balances, hip opening, hip flexor opening, back strength, and upper body strength).
The ones I've highlighted above are especially helpful for people like us with chronic low back pain.
So just to sum up what I've been saying, here is what I like about this app:
- New sequences everytime you log on so you never get bored.
- Fully customisable yoga classes depending on your needs and experience.
- Great music playlists featuring contemporary artists that are continually updated.
- The music is selected to fit the flow of the yoga sequence you are doing.
- Easy to follow instructions by a warm and friendly teacher.
- Good photos and instructional videos of every pose.
- Focus on getting your breathing in sync as you move between postures.
- The free mode is more than enough to start practising regularly.
Accupedo App (Walking)
$3.99 one-off cost
- Accurately count how many steps you are taking each hour and day as you walk.
- Also tracks distance covered, speed and calories consumed.
- Daily logs are added to your history so you can track your progress.
- Graphs can be created to show your step counts over set time periods.
- Set up motivational quotes and messages to be sent to you as notifications to keep you going.
Staying active is vital if you are going to manage your chronic low back pain well.
And one of the easiest and most accessible places to start is to get into the habit of taking daily walks.
Walking has been found to very helpful for us.
In a 2013 review of over 100 scientific studies into which activities were safe and beneficial for people with chronic lower back pain, it was found that walking (along with swimming and cycling) was the best for improving fitness levels and controlling pain (31).
This benefit occured when people were walking regularly and to a moderate intensity.
So no need to spend hours per day trudging through the park in the cold or giving yourself blisters.
Just a daily 30 minute walk at a pace that is comfortable for you can work wonders on your back pain.
However good habits are hard to form, and we may need a little push to really make the time in our day for walking.
This is where the Accupedo app can help us to stay on track and motivated until walking doesn't just become second nature, it becomes something you'll enjoy and look forward to.
It is the most accurate pedometer app available, which allows you to monitor and keep track of your walking stats.
Once installed it will automatically begin tracking your steps, and you can choose from a variety of widgets that can be added to your phones home screen that allows you to see your progress at a glance.
The app will begin counting every time it senses that you have just completed 10 consecutive steps.
After that it will record the amount of steps you go on to take, the distance you have covered while walking, the calories this exertion has consumed, and the time it has taken you.
All these details will go into a daily log that will be saved and added to your history section.
This is great as you can get a real sense of what you are achieving each day, and it gives you the motivation to keep to your daily walk as you won't want a blank day in your history ruining your stats!
And once you have been using the app for a while you can create graphs to give you a visual representation of your progress.
These graphs can be set to show your hourly step count over the day, or your daily, weekly and monthly stats.
The set goal of daily steps in this app is 10k, although you can change this amount to whatever you like in the settings.
And speaking of the settings, you can customise the app to work as you need it to here.
You can set the hours that you want it to be actively recording your step count so it doesn't drain your phone battery unnecessarily.
(You can also pause the app manually if you want to save on battery at any time).
You also enter your personal details here such as height, weight and date of birth so the app can accurately judge the amount of calories you are burning up.
And you can set the app to notify you when you reach your daily steps goal too.
You can even set up motivational notifications where you'll receive motivational quotes and messages related to walking that will help you to keep going!
And if you want to share your progress with friends, you can share your daily log on Facebook too.
All in all I think this app is a great addition for anyone who wants to stay fit and active.
And while you don't need an app to go for a walk, I still think the Accupedo app is brilliant as you are so much more likely to keep to walking regularly by using it.
- Accurately logs all the important details from your daily walk.
- Tracks your history so you can see the progress you are making over time.
- Allows you to create graphs to see trends over time.
- Completely customisable to suit your own goals and level.
- Keeps you motivated to make walking a regular activity.
Backache App (Micro breaks From Sitting)
$3.99 one-off cost
- Sends you regular reminders of when you need to take a micro break from sitting throughout the day.
- Each micro break is accompanied by a video of exercises and stretches to get your muscles and joints moving again.
- You can set the frequency of micro breaks, the start and finish times of your working day, and the days you want the app to remind you.
- Includes 30 exercises specifically selected by a quaified physiotherapist to ease back pain and mobilise the body.
Sitting down behind a desk for even a few hours per day, whether it is at home or at work, can cause havoc to your back.
And when you hear why, it is no surprise that so many office workers suffer from back pain.
Firstly when you sit your spinal vertabrae compress, which squeezes the discs that support them (and spinal movement in general) and as a result these discs become starved of blood, oxygen and nutrients which weakens them (64).
Secondly, sitting restricts blood circulation in your legs, which leads to a build up of lactic acid that causes muscle soreness and stiffness, especially in the hip area (65).
And finally, while you are seated your abs, glutes and hamstrings are inactive.
These muscles are vital for supporting your spine, but if they remain unused for such long periods during the day they weaken and your lower back gets less support and has to shoulder more of the burden.
So all in all sitting can be dangerous!
Our bodies are designed to move, and by keeping them moving we can help ourselves stay fit, healthy and pain-free.
But how can you do that if you have a job that requires you to sit for long periods every day?
Well one thing that can help is by taking micro breaks at regular intervals throughout the day.
Micro breaks are defined as small but meaningful regular breaks from being stuck in the same position (you can find a great article about micro breaks here).
And by getting up and mobilising our bodies, we can ease our muscles and joints back to life and counteract some of the effects of long periods of sitting.
Sounds like a good idea right?
However a big problem with implementing micro breaks into our working life is that it is far too easy to forget to take them!
Despite all our good intentions we can get caught up in what we were are doing, and before you know it the hours have flown past and you've been rooted to your chair the whole time.
And this is where the Backache app can prove to be so valuable.
The app will send notifications to your mobile phone or tablet that will remind you when you are due to take your next micro break.
You can fully customise these notifications to your own preferences.
There are 5 options for the frequency of the micro breaks (20, 40, 60, 120, and 180 minutes).
You can also set your start and finish times (for example 9am until 5pm), and you can also select the days that you want the app to remind you (Monday - Friday).
However simply getting up off your seat during a micro break isn't enough.
You need to mobilise your body, and this is where this app comes into it's own.
Each micro break is accompanied by a video of a different exercise or stretch that will help you to get your muscles and joints moving.
There are 30 exercises in total, and these have been specifically selected by a fully qualified physiotherapist to ease muscle tension not only in your back, but in your neck, legs, chest, feet, arms and hands as well.
Which is great as all these areas can suffer along with your back from sitting for such a long time.
All the exercises are quick and easy to do and they don't require any equipment, so they are perfect for the workplace.
And the videos are easy to follow, with each one containing detailed information about which muscle groups you are working.
A real plus point about this is that the variety of exercises will keep your body on it's toes and stop you from getting bored.
We are all creatures of habit, and it is too easy to fall into the trap of just doing the same stretches each time we get up from our seat, so this variety is a great antidote to that.
So by incorporating these micro breaks into your day you can keep your body active, your muscles stimulated and keep your back pain at bay.
And this app provides the perfect way to make sure you never forget to take one, and when you do to make sure you get the most out of them!
In summary, here's what I like about the Backache app:
- You'll never forget to take a micro break again.
- You can fully customise the schedule to fit your own needs.
- The exercises are selected by a qualified physiotherapist and work many different areas of the body.
- The videos are easy to follow.
- The variety of exercises will stop you getting bored.
Headspace App (Meditation)
Free introductory series then various monthly subscription options
- Bringing you guided meditation sessions directly to your mobile phone or tablet.
- Free introductory series of 10 meditation sessions of 10 minutes each.
- Inside the members area there are 100s of hours of guided content.
- These include guided meditation aimed at specific areas such as health, relationships and performance.
- Also SOS sessions for particularly bad days!
- Track your stats and progress, and link up with friends to help keep each other motivated.
Now you might be letting out a groan at the sight of the word meditation here, but hear me out.
Because meditation can be a big help for people with chronic lower back pain.
Not only does it lower stress and anxiety levels, it can also reduce pain.
For example, in one 2005 study a group of people that practised meditation to treat their chronic low back pain showed a significant improvement in their pain levels that was similar to a group receiving high quality, extensive physical therapy (90).
So how does meditation help?
Well first and foremost it helps you to train the mind to become present in the moment.
The mind can play a big part in how we experience pain, and when we are stressed we tend to hold this tension within our muscles which just aggravates our back pain.
This leads to escalating pain levels, and we can get stuck in a vicious circle of more pain leading to to more stress and vice versa.
However through meditation we can learn how to relax and reduce our stress levels, which helps to break this cycle.
And through becoming present and aware of our own bodies we can also learn to control our emotional reactions to pain.
This lowers the anxiety that people feel about their chronic pain, meaning they become more in control of their pain experience and better capable of managing it.
So good news for us right? And certainly worth giving a try.
And on top of these specific pain benefits, meditation also helps you to feel happier, worry less, focus more, become more productive, sleep better, think clearer, concentrate easier and live better.
A winner all round.
And the Headspace app is a fantastic place to get started.
It's an app that teaches you how to meditate in the comfort of your own home using an easy to follow and accessible style.
Getting into the habit of doing just 10 minutes per day of meditation using this app could make a big difference.
You get taken through daily guided meditation sessions with a guy called Andy Puddicombe, who talks you through the whole process as you are doing it.
The app is free to download and you get instant access to their Take10 introductory series which will introduce you to the basics of meditation.
This series is made up of 10 guided meditation sessions of 10 minutes each which you complete over the course of 10 days.
I think this is a great way to dip your toe in and see if meditation works for you without spending a penny.
Personally I could really start to feel the benefits after the first few sessions and by the time I got to the tenth one I didn't want to stop!
Which is good because you don't have to.
Headspace offer a variety of monthly subscriptions that opens the door to hundreds of hours of content where you can really delve deeply into the world of meditation.
You can choose guided meditation sessions lasting from 2 minutes to 60 minutes focused on helping you in a variety of areas such as health, performance and relationships.
There are also sessions that are designed to teach you how to apply Headspace meditation to your everyday life, in areas like driving, working, and sleeping.
And there are even 'SOS' sessions if you are having a particularly bad day!
If you do get into meditation as a way to manage your chronic pain, there is no better place to do it than by using Headspace in my opinion.
It allows you to relax and practice wherever you like.
And I found it far easier to learn to meditate on my own than in a class environment surrounded by a group of people.
For example, one class I went to once had a guy who would get so relaxed he'd fall asleep within 2 minutes of the meditation beginning.
And the wall-shaking snores he let out for the other 28 minutes made it impossible for the rest of us to get into it (and stop laughing!).
As well as being a good place to learn, Headspace also does a good job of keeping you motivated.
As you complete each meditation session you move on to the next level, with rewards and stats to track your progress and give you positive encouragement.
You can also link up with friends who are using Headspace so you can track each other's progress and motivate each other.
Personally I'd highly recommend that you give the Headspace app and meditation a try.
With the free introductory series you have nothing to lose, and the benefits you gain by getting into regular practice are awesome.
The monthly subscriptions are good value for something you will use every day, and Headspace will give away a free subscription to a person in need every time someone signs up which is really cool.
Join the 5 million plus users today and add a another way to help you relax, lower your pain and feel happier.
- You can learn how to meditate in the comfort of your own home (or anywhere else you like!).
- Easy to follow guided meditation sessions that are accessible to everyone.
- Free introductory series so you can try it out before you commit to a monthly subscription.
- Stats and progress are recorded to keep you motivated.
- 100s of hours of content in the members area to help you with health, performance and in your relationships.
Pranayama Universal Breathing (Relaxation)
$4.99 one-off fee
- Simple and easy to use guide to deep breathing.
- 3 levels (beginner, intermediate and adavanced) each with 3 levels of breathing difficulty.
- Progressive style allows you to move up through the levels.
- Fully customisable so you can create your own sessions too.
- Set to music designed to help you relax and maintain the flow of the breathing.
You may think this one is a bit left-field for helping back pain, but practising deep breathing for just 15 minutes per day has been shown to have many health benefits.
Firstly it relaxes us, which helps reduce any stress and tension in our minds and bodies.
And it can also help to relieve migraines, lower blood pressure, help asthma sufferers, and reduce the chance of developing depression.
But how does it help back pain?
Well when we are in pain we can get into the unconcious habit of taking shallow breaths.
This restricts the amount of oxygen that can get into the body.
However if we can consciously get into the habit of breathing deeply, then we get far greater amounts of air into the body.
And this stimulates the blood flow which helps to carry nutrients and oxygen to our muscles and joints.
So breathing deeper allows our muscles to repair better, stay stronger and healthier, and reduces the risk of developing any muscle soreness and stiffness.
Also, similarly to meditation, breathing deeply reduces our stress levels, which we tend to hold as tension in the muscles.
So being more relaxed through breathing will mean less muscle tension and pain.
And the Pranayama Universal Breathing app is a great place to learn how to gain these benefits.
It has been created by a digital health company with a background in medicine, yoga and meditation that specialise in developing apps to improve people's general health and well-being.
As a consequence it has been researched and tested before unleashed onto the market, so you know you are getting an app you can trust (if you want to see what other apps they offer, you can find out here).
This app provides a simple and easy to use guide to deep breathing using music and animations to get you into the correct breathing rhythyms.
There is a circle timer that you can view to see when you need to be inhaling or exhaling.
And these timings are also set to music, so you choose not to look at the screen but instead follow the rise and fall of the melody instead if you'd prefer.
What I like about this app is that it's great whether you are a complete beginner or have experience of yogic breathing techniques.
It caters for everyone, and it is set up so that the structure is progressive, allowing you to move on to more difficult breathing patterns as you become more skilled and confident.
There are three settings here for you to progress through:
- Beginner - Inhale, exhale.
- Intermediate - Inhale, retain, exhale.
- Advanced - Inhale, retain, exhale, sustain.
Each one has 3 breathing difficulty options which determine how many breaths you take within a minute (the fewer breaths, the harder it is).
You can also set the time of the session in 5 minute increments from 5 minute to 60 minutes (although 15 minutes is the recommended amount of time to practice for).
There is also a custom option that allows you to create your own session by combining whichever breathing patterns and difficulties you want.
So you'll never get stuck doing the same pattern over and over again.
There is also a calendar in the app that tracks which breathing patterns you have completed and how long in total you've spent practising them, which is a good way to track your progress.
The music that comes along with your breathing sessions is designed to help you relax and get into a meditative state.
You can choose from one of 5 music styles (ambient, classical, nature, serenity and vedic) to find the one which works best for you (I'm an ambient man myself!).
There are also background sounds such as birdsong and crashing waves that help you to achieve this relaxed state.
And there is an instructions section which contains all the information you need on how to use the app, how to breath correctly during the sessions and why, and tons of other info on the health benefits of deep breathing.
So while you might not have made the obvious link between your breathing and your back pain, I hope now you can see how deep breathing techniques can help us.
And this makes the Pranayama Universal Breathing app a good purchase in my opinion.
- Easy to use.
- Progressive course that is suitable for beginners but also for more advanced users.
- Plenty of breathing modes and difficulties to work through.
- Custom sessions mean you can tailor them exactly the way you like.
- Calendar to track progress.
- Good information section that explains everything you need to know.
I hope I've managed to show you the potential that modern technology has to help us manage our chronic back pain.
All of these apps help in different ways, and by using them you can build up an armoury that attacks pain from all angles.
Let me know in the comments box below how you get on, or if you have any other apps that help you in your day-to-day life that you'd like to share.
It's definitely worthwhile taking some time out from watching those dog videos on YouTube!