The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy states that “most people worldwide will experience back pain during their lifetime” and according to the NHS, is the largest single cause of disability in the UK.
Back pain is common, and can often be alleviated, prevented or even cured by implementing a few simple measures.
With it being National Back Care Awareness Week (5-11 Oct), we spoke to a range of expert physiotherapists, chiropractors, osteopaths and technicians to get their tips on how to take care of your back.
Liz Clare, MD of ‘Cell Regeneration’ and the only UK supplier of MBST therapy machines, a pioneering technology which stimulates cell regeneration to alleviate pain, heal injuries and improve degenerative joint conditions such as osteoarthritis and back pain, said: “Staying active is the one biggest thing you can do to help. NICE guidelines (NICE 2016) advise that if you have back pain, you should ‘continue with your normal activities’. I recommend maintaining gentle exercise, especially general movement and stretch exercises such as Pilates or yoga.”
James Scrimshaw, Chiropractor and owner of ‘CURA Clinical & Optimus Chiropractor’ in Bristol suggested: “If you sleep on your side in bed, put a pillow between your knees for support. This reduces the twisting of the back and hips.”
Suzanne Bowan, Sports Rehabilitation Specialist at ‘Optimum Performance’ in Camberley, Surrey, advised: “Practice ‘nasal breathing’ (breathing through the nose), as it stimulates blood flow and oxygen levels in your muscles and joints, which in turn acts as a pain reliever.”
“We’re all familiar with that film trope of the book on the head for etiquette training, but there is a good reason behind it!” Paul Strange, Osteopath of the ‘Ashdown Clinic’ based in Potters Bar continued: “Maintaining good posture is key to taking care of your back. It keeps your spine straight and removes stressors on your nerves and muscles. As an added bonus, you look taller and slimmer.”
Ann Clare, Physiotherapist of Ann Clare Physiotherapy in Tinwell, Rutland suggests: “Don’t be afraid to use tools and props to make your life easier. For instance, when putting footwear on, use a step to put the shoe on to reduce the strain on your back. If going on a long journey where you will be seated for a long period, use heat pads on your painful areas to keep the muscles loose and relaxed.”
With consumer research showing that screen time is the biggest growing cause of back pain in the UK, Cell Regeneration’s Liz concludes: “In our modern lives it can be difficult to avoid screens – from our phones to work computers to TV, but you can make it easier on yourself and your back. Use a supportive chair which keeps your spine straight. Walk around and stretch at regular intervals, and try to position your head so it’s a straight line with your neck – no looking down!”