Four out of five people experience chronic back pain at some time in their lives and it is a major cause of mobility problems. Learning how to protect and strengthen your back will help you recover and safeguard against future back pain
Too much activity may lead to backache or lower back pain, so learn to pace yourself and don’t do too much too soon, especially when the pain starts to subside.
Keep on working
Research shows that people who continue to work when having a bout of back pain recover more quickly.
Both low and high extremes of physical activity are linked to an increased risk of chronic low back pain. Maintain a balance and don’t overdo or under do it.
Feeling tense may cause muscle spasms, which worsen the pain and stiffness.
Avoid prolonged bed rest
Resting in bed for longer than three days can delay healing – while immobile, the unused back muscles become stiff and weak and other muscles take over, throwing the spine out of balance. People who stay active when suffering back problems tend to have better function and less pain.
Bend your knees
Always bend your knees but not your back, especially when picking up something heavy from the ground. Also, keep the weight you’re carrying close to your body, as if carrying a baby.
Get up and move
When you have a back problem it is important to keep yourself moving. The sooner you put into place measures to protect your back, the faster you’re likely to get better.
Rule out an underlying cause
Consult your doctor before embarking on self-help program. Your doctor will also be able to provide you with effective pain-relieving medication or/and treatment – a key component of your recovery.
Take breaks while driving
During long drives, take a break every 1-2 hours, get out of the car and walk around for 5 minutes, stretching like a cat. Your back will thank you later.
Strengthen your muscles
The UK National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) say that people who have had lower-back pain for longer than three months should be prescribed an exercise program under professional supervision. The aim is to strengthen the muscles that support the back, improve flexibility and increase stamina. Even if you are not enrolled in a formal course, your goal should be to include a variety of physical activities in your life.
A simple and effective low impact aerobic activity. Using a pedometer will help you record your progress and provides an incentive. Try to work up to 10000 steps a day.
Backstroke or front crawl is better for your back than breaststroke, which can strain your back if you keep your head above water.
Yoga strengthens back muscles and improves flexibility and balance. American studies suggest that people with low back pain who do yoga have less disability, pain and depression. A UK study published in the journal complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice in 2010 found that people with chronic low back pain who practiced yoga for 75 minutes a week over three months suffered significantly less discomfort.
Practicing Pilates is an effective way to strengthen the muscles of the abdomen and back that support the spinal column.