If you’ve been struggling with a nagging, achy back for any length of time, you’ll know how much it can affect just about every part of life!
Back pain is our main focus at HT Physio because we see just how much it can affect the quality of life of our clients. But it doesn’t necessarily have to be that way this year! This article will aim to give you 5 tips for keeping back pain at bay in 2019.
#1 – Protect your joints by keeping warm
Although this sounds like an obvious tip, it is one that is very often forgotten. One of the main causes of pain for people past a certain age is arthritis in the joints. The back is no exception to this with arthritic changes in the lower back being the most common cause of back pain in people over 50.
Arthritic changes describe the gradual wear to the cartilage that surrounds the joints. One of the best ways to prevent these changes from becoming painful is to make sure that the problem area stays warm.
In winter, it’s easy to get caught out on walks and find yourself cold – this can lead to stiff joints and worsening pain from arthritis. One of the best ways to combat this is to wear a thermal top under your clothes to keep your midriff warm.
If your pain is in your upper back and neck, then wearing a scarf will help prevent stiffness.
When out walking, make sure your knees are well covered and insulated – when the knees get cold, the muscles around them can become tight and tense which has a knock-on effect on the back, and may worsen back pain.
In summary, stay wrapped up this winter!
If you do get cold, as soon as you get in the house apply a hot water bottle to the back to help ease tension and stiffness. Use hot baths and showers in the morning and evening to relieve back pain at the worst times of day!
#2 – Use shock-absorbing shoes to protect your back
Did you know that your choice of footwear can significantly affect the force that goes through your back as you walk or run?
Shoes that provide cushioning for the heel can reduce the force that transmits through the legs and back by up to TWENTY times!
While high heels might look great, they don’t provide much protection for the back when walking.
For best results, choose shock absorbing running shoes. Our clients report the Nike VaporMax range to provide the best cushioning when walking. Your best bet is to head to a sports shoe shop and ask to try on some different pairs. Be sure to walk a few lengths up and down the shop and trial a few pairs before making a buying decision.
#3 – Keep the muscles in your legs supple
When muscles in the legs get tight, they can create a “pull” on the pelvis which can tilt the pelvis forward, back or to one side.
When this happens, everything is thrown out of kilter and back pain becomes more likely.
You can counteract this effect by stretching the main muscle groups in the legs, especially the ones that have attachments on the pelvis. These muscle groups are the hamstrings, gluteals, hip flexors and quadriceps (thigh muscles).
The video below provides a great example of a stretching regime that you can follow to reduce pressure on your back. Be sure to hold each stretch for 30 seconds and do both sides:
#4 – Use a towel to improve your posture
Humans are not designed to sit for long periods of time! When we sit for longer than an hour, our postures tend to “slip” and our lower backs can suffer.
Part of the reason for the back pain you may experience when sitting for a long period of time is because we have a tendency to lose the natural C-shaped “curve” in the lower back. This can increase the pressure through the discs and aggravate any existing disc bulges.
You can avoid this and maintain your normal sitting posture by using a rolled up towel to maintain the curve in your lower back when sat or driving for a long time.
Simply take a medium-sized towel, roll it lengthways and place it behind your lower back. This will maintain the “space” between your lower back and the seat, stopping your back from rounding.
#5 – Don’t let the “knots” build up!
Sore, tight spots in muscles are an inevitable part of life! As we move, work and exercise, certain points in muscles in the legs and back develop chronic tension. If these get past a certain point, “knots” develop in the muscles. These can sometimes be felt under the skin as hard lumps in the muscle which cause pain when pressed on.
When knots become troublesome, they can cause pain throughout the day. If you’ve ever felt a dull, throbbing, muscular ache in your back or shoulders, you’ll know what I mean.
There are a few ways to prevent muscular knots building up, including changing position regularly, ensuring your muscles are supple and strong, and choosing an ergonomic chair.
However, if the knots have already built up, they need sorting!
One way you can do this is with some self-massage; press firmly into the muscular knots and hold for up to 20 seconds. This may be uncomfortable, but you should feel relief quickly when you let go!
Another way to relieve the knots is to see a physiotherapist who can perform massage and other hands-on techniques to quickly “dissolve” those painful, tight areas.
At HT Physio, we are experts at relieving muscular knots such as these – you can click here to speak to a physio for free and see how we can help!
While many people accept back pain as just a part of life, there are usually things that can be done to encourage a full recovery! Don’t just accept back pain in 2019, explore your options for getting it sorted.
If you’d like more information on how to beat back pain this year, why not download our back pain guide “9 Expert Tips to Beat Back Pain”? You can get it by clicking here and get started at home today!