52 million work days are lost as a result of back pain every year, but with careful management and early intervention the impact of a dodgy back can be drastically reduced.
We caught up with osteopath, Steve Morris, founder of the Sussex Back Pain Clinic and one of Britain's few practitioners of IDD therapy, to get his top tips for bouncing back from back ache...
1. Get your back seen to as soon as it starts hurting…
Office-based workers notoriously leave it longer to seek help as opposed to people with manual jobs who have little choice other than to get the problem 'sorted'. Continuing to sit at a computer for hours on end can exacerbate the feeling of pain and discomfort and the longer it is left, the harder it becomes to deal with – often leading to a more complex treatment pathway with multiple sessions. So, don't delay and seek help straight away!
2. Prevention is always better than cure. When exercising, make sure you warm up and stretch out properly…
Starting a New Year fitness plan with vigour and enthusiasm is a great thing, but it often leads to injuries. Whether you are pounding the streets with a regular run (an asymmetric movement that can aggravate your back) or lifting weights (where there is a temptation to get carried away and lift too much, too soon) always give yourself the best chance of a safe workout with a proper warm up and stretch out.
Increase your heart rate, with gentle running on the spot to begin with as stretching a cold body can lead to pulled muscles. Stand with your legs a little over hip width apart and place your right hand on your hip and put your other arm straight up by your ear. Tip to the right and then repeat on the left. Next twist your upper body round to look over your shoulder both ways, keeping your hips forward to feel a stretch.
A good cool down exercise at the end of your session is to lie on the ground, with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Drop your knees to one side and look the other way. To elongate and increase the stretch, push your stomach forward to create a half moon shape.
3. Strengthen Your Core
Keep your back strong and limber by exercising your core at least two or three times a week. If you're not sure how to get started, take a look at our expert guide from the personal trainers at Fitness First.
Once this is done try this simple exercise to help stretch the muscles of your back:
Lie on your back with your knees bent. Slowly lift one knee to your chest and hold it with your hand. Do the same with the other then squeeze both knees into your stomach ensuring that your pelvis does not come off the ground. Hold for 10-20 seconds. Repeat 4 times twice per day.
4. Stay active
If you do get lower back spasms try not to worry - it will usually get better on its own within a few days or possibly a few weeks. Don't stop moving, the best thing you can do is stay active with gentle walking and stretching.
The pain might force you to rest at home, but this isn't necessarily the best thing for your back. Limit time in bed to one or two days and try and get up and walk for five minutes every hour. Staying still will increase the stiffness, make the area less mobile and harder to treat.
5. What can you do when your back pain becomes more serious…?
Although surgery was the go-to option for chronic back pain and slipped discs in the past, they can now be treated with non-invasive IDD therapy. This treatment decompresses the painful area over a period of six weeks and lots of patients notice results after one session. If you want to find out more click here.
What are your bad back cures? Leave a comment below to be in with a chance of winning a £100 goodie bag.
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