Top 10 Tips for back pain
HOW TO PREVENT BACK PAIN
1. Regular exercise for your back. Walking, swimming and core stability exercises can strengthen your back and neck muscles. Exercise raises your heart rate and doing just 30 minutes per day improves your heart health and spinal strength. Also by losing any excess weight, you are reducing the compression and strain on the spine. Gentle jogging or other weight bearing exercises can help treat and prevent osteoporosis.
2. Warm up & Cool down. Whether for sports, housework, gardening or DIY; you need to prepare your muscles and joints for what you are about to do. After being active t
he muscles are warm. Now is the time to stretch the muscles to prevent them from becoming tight. A gentle walk or stretch routine can help. You do not have to only stretch after exercise. A daily stretch routine is highly recommended. Have a look here for some suggestions.
3. Lift with correct technique. Either bend your knees and hips (not your back) like doing a squat. Keep your heels flat on the floor – this will keep you balanced. Otherwise go down on one knee (like you are proposing). This allows you to get to those low places such as the washing machine or the bottom drawer. Also you then have the front knee to push up on to help you stand.
4. Maintain a good diet. This is vital for good spinal and general health. Avoid processed and fatty foods and eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables. Many foods have inflammatory characteristics, which can actually worsen your pain! You may need to supplement your diet with vitamins/minerals/probiotics etc if you are not getting this from your diet.
5. Carrying. Never twist when lifting or carrying as this can injure your muscles, joints and discs. Face forward and move your whole body when carrying and moving something. Always keep loads close to the body to avoid straining.
6. Desk posture. Make sure your chair (home or office) provides the right support; Use a chair with an adjustable backrest and base (height, tilt & slide). Have the height of the chair so that your buttocks & thighs are above your knees. This keeps the correct curvature of your lower back. Your arms should rest flat on your desk, without raising/lowering your shoulders.Make sure everything on your desk is in front of you to avoid twisting. Have the top of your computer screen positioned at eye level to avoid putting pressure on your neck by having to look down.
7. Avoid prolonged sitting. 30 minutes is too long! You should take regular breaks to avoid straining and compressing the spine and nerves. You do not have to get out of the chair (especially if you are driving); you can clench your buttocks or shift your weight from one buttock to the other. Additionally tilting the pelvis forward and back can help strengthen the muscles and ligaments of the low back.
8. Sitting in the car. It is very difficult in the car to get the position as mentioned above as the car seat has limited adjustability. Try sitting on a cushion or seat wedge to raise the hips slightly. Make sure you are comfortable, have changed the mirror position and are safe to drive in this new position. Make sure the lumbar spine is supported by the back of the car seat and that you are not too close (hunching shoulders) or far (leaning forward) to the steering wheel.
9. Choose the correct mattress and pillow for YOU! It is not as simple as finding the firmest mattress. The mattress should support you in the correct places (low back and mid back) as well as cushion you in others (hips & shoulders) to avoid excess pressure on these joints. A pocket sprung mattress is often preferred, as it spreads the weight of the person/people on the bed better than old styles or memory foam. The pillow should support your neck in a straight position, whether lying on your back or side. NEVER SLEEP ON YOUR TUMMY! This causes a twisting of the neck and a flattening of the curves in your spine.
10. Listen to your body. Pain is like the smoke alarm to the body. It is there to warn you but often the problem has been there for a while by the time the pain starts. So listen to the early warning signs - this could be a headache every now and again, an occasional achy feeling or muscle tightness.
If you are unsure on any of the above tips or would like further information, speak to me on your next visit or get in touch!