Back pain is as complex as it is common affecting around 80% of us at some point in our lives, so what is causing yours and what can be done to help? This was the subject of a recent in-depth publication in Prima Magazine. In this issue Michael was asked to cover a number of areas to help with the 3 page feature. Here we’ve taken a couple of the themes and topics for your interest and remember, if you want to check out the full feature pick up your copy before the end of the month!
Lower back pain affecting us as we approach mid-life
Midlife is this peculiar period in our lives where things start to add together. We’ve had a good number of years of gradually increasing responsibilities, this could be at work, family life, young children, mortgages, the list goes on, we’re often pulled in 100 different directions with little time to prioritise ourself. At the same time, often sedentary jobs have started to leave their mark on our body’s bad postures and long periods of sitting stiffening up a variety of areas, the hips & knees, the lower back & shoulders. The lack of mobility and activity has also lead to the gradual de-conditioning of our muscular system. Bad habits have become solidified and the gradual warning signs of back stiffness are all too easily put off as other more pressing matters take priority, until something goes. Whether it is a lower back disc herniating or it’s related to the onset of the menopause and other complications and changes that come with the ageing process, our body is often caught off guard.
Causative factors in your back pain
Back pain is never one thing, it is a collection, however one feature common to many that do not recover well is weakness in the muscular system, specifically the hips and core muscles. The hips don’t move as well as they should and are weaker as a result and the core is so inactive on a daily basis it’s competence declines too. Frequently this weakness is not an initiating factor in terms of the injury occurring, but it is nearly always a causative factor when it comes to the slow and turbulent recovery of what can often be a more “minor” initial injury. Coupled with bad practices and daily routines that strain the low back unnecessarily, it makes for quite the challenging path to recovery.
Some simple tips to help your back pain now
Simply put, you cannot recover long term unless this is addressed. That being said, some areas were covered in the publication in Prima Magazine that could work as avenues for you to explore in the immediate days following a flare up:
- short bursts of icing, 3 to 5 minutes over the spine directly.
- self massage guns to help alleviate inevitable muscle tensions
- the towel decompression stretch, a personal favourite for back health short and long term
- ergonomic desk setup with potential for sit-stand desk use
- avoidance of inappropriate footwear such as high heels for the short term.
Longer term working on strengthening the weakness earlier described. The core and leg musculature is an essential and cannot be avoided. Ladies, bra fitting is important and often overlooked, the publication in Prima pointed to figures showing 4 out of 5 women wear wrongly fitted bras. This can make for inefficient biomechanics, stiffness and circulation issues in the mid back and more. Finally for all the desk workers out there, the “chest pop” we discuss is a great option to just activate the middle back muscles. You’ll have to follow it up with some proper strengthening but it’s a great starting point!
This is just a snapshot of the feature and much more was covered including:
- Shoulder pain
- Two things your spine needs
- Which therapist is best for back pain
- The best exercise for back pain
- Can the NHS actually help anymore
- Medication choices
- X-Rays or MRI
- Member testimonial
And remember, if you need help with your lower back pain, you can always check out the program and how it can help you below: