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Back pain is now estimated to effect over half of the adult population annually. However, there are many things that you can do to speed up your recovery and even prevent back pain in the first place.
1) Don’t slouch
Sitting slumped increases the pressure on the spine and slows recovery from low back pain. To avoid this; sit back into the chair and place a support or lumber roll just above your belt line to maintain a slight arch in the low back
2) Keep Moving
Although holding a good posture when sitting can reduce low back stresses, holding any one posture for a prolonged period of time will still lead to increased stiffness and tension. A good rule of thumb is not to sit for more than 20-30 minutes without getting up. With acute back injuries you may want to get up even more regularly this this. Microbreaks are a perfect way to break up periods of sitting and get the low back moving again.
Bed rest is generally bad. It stiffens the spine, slows healing, causes swelling of the discs and should therefore be avoided. As soon as you are able you should gently start moving. The cat camel exercise is a great way to get the spine moving again without risking re-injury.
- Start on all fours.
- Slowly move from position (A) to position (B) moving the whole spine including the neck.
- Only go as far as you can pain free.
- Perform 8-12 reps.
Walking is generally safe and well tolerated for patients with low back pain. Try to get out for a few short walks throughout the day. Walking posture is important. Walking slumped, with short strides and not swinging your arms will lead to more load on your spine and possibly exacerbate pain. Instead, walk with a tall posture, at a brisk but comfortable pace, swinging your arms from your shoulders.
3) Avoid bending in the first hour of the morning
At night, discs attract water and swell, increasing bending stresses on the spine in the morning. Therefore avoid bending, lifting and twisting early for the first 60-90 minutes after rising. Getting out of bed, brushing your teeth and sitting on the toilet are common bending pitfalls to watch out for.
4) Avoid Sit ups
Walk into any gym and you will probably see at least one person doing sit ups. However, sit ups are not a good exercise of choice for most people and especially for back pain sufferers. Sit ups place a large load on the lumbar spine (low back) often worsening low back complaints. For alternative safe core exercises take a look at this video.
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‘Top Tips for Back Pain Relief’ was written by Steffen Toates. Steffen is a chiropractor at Dynamic Health Chiropractic in Jersey, Channel Islands. For more information about Steffen click here.