Dealing with chronic back pain

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Your back needs your help

Around 80% of adults suffer from back pain at some point in their lives. Before it becomes a chronic condition, there are things you can do to keep it in good shape. Read on for our round-up of preventative measures. 

According to Mayo Clinic, there are various conditions that are linked to back pain. It often develops without a specific cause that can be identified with a test or imaging study, and could result from:

  • A sudden fall
  • Muscle or ligament strain due to repeated heavy lifting or a sudden, awkward movement
  • Bulging or ruptured discs in your spinal column
  • Arthritis
  • Skeletal irregularities such as severe scoliosis
  • Brittle and porous bones from osteoporosis

It is possible to reduce your risk of chronic back pain by using proper body mechanics and keeping your body, particularly your back, in a healthy condition.

Tips for positive lifestyle changes

  1. Maintain a healthy weight. Additional weight places strain on your back muscles, which could lead to back pain. Stay fit and healthy and maintain a good body weight with a balanced diet and regular exercise.
  2. Exercise. Do low-impact exercise, build up your core and include strength training into your regime. Low-impact sports such as swimming, walking and cycling are effective for staying fit. Consider core-focused activities such as yoga and pilates to strengthen your back muscles and give your spine the support it needs for daily activities.
  3. Build flexibility. Staying in the same position for extended periods of time is bad for your back. Relieve the pressure by getting out of your chair, walking and doing simple stretches. Try a quick routine of bending forward, then back, then side to side.
  4. Lighten your load. suggests that if your handbag, backpack or briefcase is more than 10% of your bodyweight, it’s too heavy. Think about lightening a little of the load and switching sides every 20 minutes.

Use the correct body mechanics

  1. Lifting heavy objects. Bend at your knees, keep your back straight, squat down and look straight ahead. Take care not to twist when you lift and keep the object close to your body. Activate your stomach muscles and use your legs and knees to lift.
  2. Digging in your garden. Hinge at your hips with your lower back flat or slightly hollow so that your hips rather than back take the strain.
  3. Carrying items. Maintain your balance by not carrying too many items at the same time. Try to equalise the weight on both sides of your body, for example, place equally weighted shopping bags in both hands instead of just one. Make multiple trips if needed.
  4. Posture. Stand up straight with your ears lining up with your shoulders, shoulders with hip joints and hip joints with ankles. Sit in a chair with good lower-back support, or place a rolled towel or pillow in the small of your back to keep its natural curve. Knees should be at hip level and you should change your position every 30 minutes.

The information is shared on condition that readers will make their own determination, including seeking advice from a healthcare professional. E&OE.


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