I have a terrible back. Like, really terrible. If you were to guess my age based entirely on how often I throw my back out you would probably put me at around 80 years old. The problem is that I know exactly what is wrong with it – I have a weak back. I sit on a computer day & night, I don’t exercise as much as I should, my boobs are getting heavier the more weight I put on and I carry a handbag that would exceed airline luggage limits. Unfortunately I am not the only one experiencing back pain at a young age as it is becoming more common due to our inactive lifestyles. So what can we do to change this and prevent back pain?
I put the question to Jason Smith, Physiotherapist, Founder of Back In Motion Health Group and author of ‘Get Yourself Back In Motion’. Jason has compiled these 5 important things you need to know about preventing back pain.
- Exercise and physical activity are key to optimal wellbeing as they help keep the muscles of the spine strong. The most important muscles to focus on in preventing back pain are the core muscles of the lower back and abdominals. By strengthening the core your posture is likely to improve, and once your body is properly aligned it can move quickly and safely with the least anatomical strain on the soft tissues around it. I also advise regular stretching within your fitness program to ensure you stay as flexible as possible, as this will also aid with the prevention of further pain and injuries.
- Follow a Pilates regime to maintain flexibility, improve posture, enhance core stability, decrease stress and most importantly reduce back pain. Unlike large unsupervised Pilates classes possibly found at your local gym, Clinical Pilates is guided by a physiotherapist and can be tailored specifically to your personal needs or conditions to achieve desired outcomes. Once you have learned the correct techniques, Pilates can be effectively continued at home for long-term health and wellness.
- Learn to maintain a healthy weight and diet to literally lighten your load on the journey to wellness. Back pain and a poor diet are very much related in that when the body is deprived of nutrition, the muscles cannot function optimally or move to sufficiently support the spine. The lack of minerals such as calcium, magnesium and potassium as well as insufficient intake of water have been known to cause muscle cramps and stiffness. So staying hydrated and maintaining the correct balance of food, vitamins and minerals will have a remarkable impact on reducing pain throughout the body.
- Mattress Matters – We spend approximately one third of our lives sleeping, so our beds are essentially the most used and important piece of furniture we own. Yet many people underestimate the importance of making the right choice when it comes to selecting a mattress and by doing so, run the risk of back pain. By disadvantaging your musculoskeletal system with poor postural support every night you will most probably have a restless night’s sleep and wake up with aches, pains and stiffness. Find a mattress that will maintain your body in a neutral posture, giving the natural curves of your spine real support and your neck and shoulders proper alignment.
- Sitting for long periods of time leads to compression of the spine and postural fatigue, the most detrimental factors in the cause of back pain. Many of us work all day slouched over our desks in front of our computer screens and forget to get up to move our bodies. It is important to make a conscious effort to get out of your chair, or even the office if you have a chance, because this will increase blood flow through your body and keep the muscles from tensing up.
About Jason Smith
Jason Smith is the founder of Back In Motion Health Group, Australia’s leading provider of physiotherapy and related services. Jason’s new book Get Yourself Back In Motion is available at Back In Motion practices around Australia, major book retailers and online bookstores. Find your nearest stockist via the Back In Motion website and keep in touch with Jason via Facebook and Twitter
Have you experienced back pain? What do you do to prevent or treat it? Let me know by commenting below!