As someone who has recently suffered from a minor back injury, I know how important it is to look after your back, and there are some simple but effective ways to protect your back. It's one of those things we rarely think about and take for granted, but it's something we should be mindful of and we should look after. Back pain and injuries are so common and many of us have suffered from some kind of back pain at some point or another. Obviously if your back pain is chronic then you will need to seek medical advice but here are a few ways to protect your back.
If you have done ballet in the past then you may have quite a good posture. However, slouching over computers and at desks can really affect posture and lead to problems down the line. One way to prevent this is to avoid sitting at your desk for too long. Make sure you take regular breaks, particularly if your job does involve you sitting down for long periods of time. Your chair may also putting extra strain on your back and your workplace has a responsibility to provide you with a chair which is comfortable. Your joints need to keep moving in order to stay healthy so take a trip to the water fountain or the vending machine (for a healthy snack!) You never know who you might get talking to there. This is just one of the ways to protect your back.
2. Weight to Go
Carrying excess weight can sometimes exacerbate back issues which is why it is advisable to maintain a healthy weight so that no excess pressure is put on the back. A healthy diet is important in maintaining a healthy back and preventing backache so be sure to ensure your diet is rich in foods which will help protect muscles, such as oily fish and Vitamin C rich foods to help develop strong bones.
One of the most common reasons for back complaints and injuries is because of incorrect lifting. There is an exact science behind lifting and adhering to these rules will ensure back health for longer. There are a range of lifts for varying weights. Try to avoid lifting anything heavy if you can but if you absolutely have to, remember to position yourself over the object, keep your back straight, bend your knees, and lift with your legs.
4. And Stretch
Stretches are vital for a healthy back and will ensure you stay flexible and supple. Any exercise fan will know how important it is to stretch before and after a workout as you will certainly avoid injury that way. The cat pose is great for stretching out the spine and the 'stand and touch your toes stretch' (rolls off the tongue I know) is the most simple but effective one. Don't worry if you can't touch your toes, I'm no Supple Sandy either. There are other stretches for the back, so it's important to find ones that suit you.
5. Work It
Exercise is great for the back and there are certain exercises you can do to strengthen and protect the back. Yoga and Pilates are particularly good for the back because they involve stretching and improving core strength. You can do this in the comfort of your own home or join a class of like-minded enthusiasts. Other exercises like walking, stair climbing, cycling and swimming are good for strengthening and conditioning different areas of your body.
Stress can be a real contributing factor to back pain. When tension builds around the shoulders and upper back, it can cause headaches and cause a general feeling of rigidity which can be really uncomfortable. Be sure to treat yourself to the occasional hot bath or a massage to relieve the tension. Like we needed an excuse hey ladies?
7. The Expert
Visiting someone who makes a living from dealing with the body in all its muscular and joint glory is something you may want to do. But do you know the difference between an osteopath and a chiropractor? I didn't until I suffered with a bad back so don't worry. Osteopaths use physical manipulation and massages to relieve muscle tension and will be able to give advice about posture and exercise. A chiropractor may use X rays, MRI scans or blood tests to diagnose the problem and will adopt a similar approach to release the tension and alleviate the strains they identify.
Our bodies are amazing but fragile at times, so it's important to take steps to prevent and protect. I leant the hard way! Has anyone else suffered with a bad back recently? What sorts of things have you done to deal with it?