If you suffer from back pain, like I do, you will know how limiting it can be. We live in a world of convenience – we have a remote to save us getting up to change the TV station, we take the elevator instead of stairs, we drive or catch public transport instead of walking. Not to mention, sitting for hours at a desk in front of a computer.
This lack of physical exercise results in muscle tension in the neck and back pain. The answer is to strengthen our core and move more.
Here are some tips that will help to strengthen and soothe the pain and hopefully enable you to avoid taking pain killers.
Remember, always take it gently and if you have any questions seek professional advice.
I recently read this article by Jennifer Kries, a Fitness & Wellness Expert writing as a guest blogger on the Spark People website.
Jennifer explains 5 exercises to help soothe and alleviate back pain and it is definitely well worth reading and trying.
Here are some other tips I have learned along the way which will hopefully help you.
If you are working in a job where you are sitting for most of the day you need to move regularly. Set an alarm to remind yourself to get up and walk around and stretch every 30 minutes. Try to go for a brisk 10 minute walk during your lunch break or longer if you can. Park the car further away in the carpark so you have to walk, or get off the bus one stop earlier and walk the rest of the way. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Walk to a colleagues office rather than picking up the telephone or emailing them.
2. Foam roller
A quality foam roller can be relatively inexpense and a great way to soothe those aching muscles. Here is a link from Prevention.com which explains foam roller exercises including some for the back. If you use this 3 times a week you will certainly be feeling much looser in your muscles and definitely less pain. http://www.prevention.com/fitness/strength-training/foam-roller-strengthen-muscles-and-relieve-pain
3. Core Strength
We hear our PT’s and physios talking about core strength but what exactly is it? Basically, the Core generally refers to the body minus legs and arms. The major muscles of the core are in the belly and the mid and lower back (not the shoulders), and include the hips, the shoulders and the neck. The Core is used in every body movement so it is important to keep the core strong as it affects our posture, back and balance.
Posture is very important in maintaining a strong and pain free back which is vital as we age. Sitting at computers or for long periods can see us crouching forward as our back becomes tired. Replacing your chair with a fit ball will ensure that you are sitting straight and also give your core a workout as you need to balance.
5. Bend your knees !
Don’t bend forward to pick something up, especially if it is heavy, squat and keep your core muscles tight. Your back will love you for it and you will avoid injury. Doing 20 squats per day will also help to strengthen your back and legs.
Take 10 – 15 minutes when you first wake up to just stretch. Take your time and hold each stretch for 15 – 20 seconds. Don’t push the stretch too much. It should be pain free and if you do them regularly you will find your flexibility improving. Stretches include:-
- lying on your back and drawing your knees into your chest
- lying on your back and then drawing one knee to your chest
- lying on your back, drawing knees into your chest and rolling them to the side
- standing and reaching up to the ceiling
Yoga & Pilates are great for this and also helps you to relax which in turn releases the tension from your body.
The important thing to remember is to exercise regularly. Walking is great, most of us can do it and it doesn’t cost anything. Why not try some aqua therapy such as aqua aerobics or just walking up and down the pool. This will be gentler on your body but still give you a great workout.
If you feel you need more assistance, book a session with a personal trainer who will be able to write a program designed for you.
Do you have back pain? How do you find relief? Leave a comment below.