Eighty percent of UK adults experience back pain at some stage in their lives.
Back pain may be likely for some but by making simple changes to your lifestyle and ensuring you maintain a correct posture, you can help lower your risk. For example, not only can being overweight cause back pain but eating the wrong foods and not drinking enough water can hinder your road to recovery.
Here are some practical steps for a healthier back. There are many causes of back pain. By looking at your daily routine at home and work you can examine the amount of strain placed on your spine.
Maintaining a good posture you can help improve spinal health and prevent back problems. Keep your back straight and try to elongate your spine, avoid hunching your shoulders and rounding your back. Wear low-heeled shoes whenever possible as high-heels tilt you forward thus increasing the pressure on the lower back. We often hunch our backs when we stand up but more frequently when we sit down, so always sit on an upright
chair and stand up to stretch every 30 minutes. Avoid sleeping on your front, the foetal position (side-lying with knees and hips bent) is probably the best but lying on your back is fine too.
Always sit down without bending your back. Bend your knees and place your hands on the arm handles or seat of the chair. Gently lower yourself into the chair keeping your head up.
Mental stress often leads to increased muscle tension causing a loss in suppleness that can lead to back pain. One way to reduce stress is by getting plenty of exercise, eating healthy foods, getting enough sleep and listening to relaxing music. Practising yoga can be especially helpful in reducing stress. Your Chiropractor can advice you further on muscle tension.
Poor sleeping positions can place unnecessary strain on your back. Also if you are experiencing back problems, you might want to try replacing your mattress, especially if it is weak and sagging. Do not sleep on your front!
To test if your bed is giving you the correct level of support, lie down on your back and move your hand palm-down between the small of your back and the bed mattress. You should be able to work your hand through with some resistance if your bed is giving you enough support. If you can hardly force your hand through at all, the bed is probably too soft and may need to be replaced.
We often “over shop” by overloading shopping trolleys and bags. Always take regular breaks and carry shopping evenly in both hands. Always plan ahead so you are prepared for any heavy loads.
Always avoid extra strain on your back. If you carry out activities that require repetitive lifting or excessive sitting, modify your movements to reduce the pressure on your back. If you have children, make sure you bend your knees to pick up a baby and avoid twisting. When picking things up, always bend from the knees. Always know where you will place the object and that you can see where you are walking.
Example core exercises
Crossed crawl – Kneel on all fours, tense your abdominal muscles by drawing your naval towards your spine, raise the opposite and leg out and balance for 3 seconds. Repeat on the other side and perform 10 times.
Bridge – Lie on your back with your knees bent, flatten your back against the floor and tense your abdominal muscles by drawing your naval towards your spine. Raise your bottom off the floor and hold for a count of 5. Repeat 10 times.
Dead bug – Lie on your back with your knees bent and arms pointing to the ceiling, tense your abdominal muscles by drawing your naval towards your spine, march the right knee to your chest whilst lowering your left arm to the floor. Repeat on the other side and perform 10 times.
Periodic Chiropractic check-ups are recommended to help preserve and maintain progress. This is a personal lifestyle choice and the benefits are to the individual. The main reasons for this important and ongoing phase are:
- To maintain the improvements in the spine’s function that have been achieved by the Chiropractor. For patients who have suffered back pain for a long time, periodic back care and maintenance may improve spinal mechanics and minimise further deterioration. People with severe arthritic changes fall into this group, and they often find considerable relief from regular Chiropractic care.
- To prevent recurrence of problems that have been relieved, an awareness of the stresses and strains that contributed to the problem in the first place is perpetuated.
Bending, lifting, carrying, sitting even minor trips and bangs put pressure on the delicate spinal tissues causing further problems. These may go unnoticed at first but eventually the pain threshold is reached and the cycle begins again.
A sedentary lifestyle is a recipe for back and neck pain. Exercise nourishes all the tissues of the spine and increases flexibility, strength and stamina. Overall fitness is important and certain muscle groups are key, particularly back, abdominal, buttocks and thighs.
Do your best to stay in good shape at all times!