Tackling back pain in everyday life

The NHS states back pain is the largest single cause of disability in the UK, with lower back pain alone accounting for a shocking 11% of the total disability of the UK population. When you are suffering from back pain your first instinct may be to rest, however, that can actually make it worse. Consistent back pain can be difficult to deal with, but little lifestyle changes can help to ease it.

Avoid bed rest
If you suffer from back pain, the best thing to do is to continue to stay active and carry on with your daily activities as usual. A lack of activity can cause muscles to grow stiff and weaken, not moving for long periods of time can also lead to higher pain levels and absence from work if the pain is too high.

Starting the day with gentle activity to wake up tired muscles and stiff joints could lessen aches and pains.

Use exercise to reduce back pain
Exercise can help to reduce and prevent back pain, anything from core strengthening, aerobic exercise or stretching can help. Working on strength and flexibility throughout your body aids in the prevention of back pain as it uses your core which supports your spine and spinal muscles. Tightness or weakness in your glutes, hips, quads and hamstrings will impact the muscles in your lower back, and consequentially put more strain on those muscles. Start slowly with the exercises you choose and opt for low impact ones such as walking, stationary cycling or swimming. Everyone is different, therefore be sure to ask your doctor about any specific exercises you should avoid.

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Be careful about lifting and bending
The NHS recommends to not do any lifting if you suffer from back pain as you will be likely to strain it further and to be careful when bending your back as it can worsen problems. When lifting objects, safe practices include not twisting as your lift and instead bending your knee, lift with your legs and stomach muscles.

A good quality sleep makes a difference
A good night’s sleep can help to reduce stress and improve wellbeing; however, back pain can make it tough to have good quality sleep and sleep deprivation can impact a person’s perception of pain. Certain positions can worsen back pain such as sleeping on your stomach as it puts strain on your back muscles and also results in neck pain. If you sleep on your side, you should pull your legs up to your chest and place a small pillow between your knees. If you sleep on your back then placing a pillow under your knees can allow your spine to maintain its natural curve. If you sleep on your stomach and can’t sleep a different way, you can place a pillow under your pelvis and lower abdomen to try to minimise strain.

Wear comfortable shoes
Those who suffer from back pain should choose comfy shoes in order to keep it healthy. Poor choices in shoes can cause back pain and put strain on your back, as the way you move one part of your body affects other areas. High heels and flip flops are common offenders when it comes to back pain and should be avoided if you have a bad back. Cushioned soles can reduce the impact of walking on hard surfaces and running shoes are also good footwear for back pain.

Sit comfortably
Working adults in England on average spend about 9.5 hours per day being sedentary according to The British Heart Foundation. If you work in an office, it is wise to ensure you have a comfortable chair as that is where you will spend most of your day. When you are sitting be sure to keep your feet rested flat on the ground to keep your back up and your body grounded. Lumbar supports are ideal to provide extra support to your lower back if you need it.

Take a break
Break up long periods of sitting down by taking frequent short breaks where you get up to move about or walk around the office. Sitting idly for hours on end can make your back become stiff and tense, walking will relieve tight joints and muscles. Going to get a drink or talking to a colleague will give you the opportunity to use your muscles.