Millions of people suffer with some level of back pain throughout their lifetime which is primarily due to a number of common factors. These can include; poor posture, lack of activity, muscle imbalance, mechanical issues, obesity, poor nutrition plus many more...
What ever the main reason for a painful back, I know first hand that it can be debilitating, frustrating and even an anxiety provoking condition. Having to cope day to day with a back issue is one of the most intense conditions (dependant on severity) to suffer from.
Unfortunately day to day back pain has become a common problem in the modern way of living, but the good news is that there are some simple daily strategies you can follow to help reduce your pain symptoms.
Here are 5 brilliantly simple do-it-yourself strategies to help reduce your painful back.
1. AVOID YOUR SPECIFIC PAIN TRIGGERS AT ALL COSTS
If the spine stays in a painful state over an extended period of time then the tissues surrounding the discs of the spine become super-sensitive. This means that movements that aren't necessarily causing your back pain to become worse, suddenly feel very painful and worrying due to this over-sensitivity of the tissues (muscles, ligaments, tendons). By avoiding the movements that cause your pain triggers (keep a log) you will slowly help to desensitise the painful tissues, giving your back the chance to start behaving more normally again, reducing your pain signals.
2. CHANGE POSTURE FREQUENTLY
Poor posture is a huge pre-cursor to back pain, yet unfortunately it is often the last thing to be considered and most often over-looked by doctors, therapists, chiropractors and trainers. We spend all our lives in specific postures throughout the day that our bodies adapt to, so it's no wonder why promoting good posture gets quick results.
When it comes to back pain one of the most effective strategies is to change your posture throughout the day on a frequent basis. If you are spending most of your day in a seated posture then its vital that you stand up, stretch tall and walk around when possible. If your standing up for most of the day then its important that you sit down, lye on the floor and walk briskly for some time. These small changes in posture/movement help to keep the back from stiffening, reducing the likelihood of pain triggers throughout the day.
3. LEARN THE HIP HINGE TECHNIQUE
This is a brilliant spine sparing technique that once mastered will help reduce your pain in many activities. Instead of bending down by flexing your back muscles, bend over moving from the hips and keeping the back in a neutral and locked position. This pushes your bum backwards and maintains your balance by ensuring that the muscles in your back and legs are stiffened appropriately for the bending activity required. This hip hinge also helps to engage deeper core muscles in your trunk (tummy area) further protecting your spine from excess loads.
Master the hip hinge whilst brushing your teeth, picking up a pen, picking up your child, looking into floor cupboards etc. These movements are used frequently during a day, so poor spine bending technique will increase the likelihood of causing pain and discomfort.
4. STOP SPINE BENDING MOVEMENTS IN THE MORNING
As soon as you wake the discs in your spine are at their most hydrated. During the night the discs swell with fluid and become larger in size, this is why you have to adjust your car mirror first thing in the morning. Unfortunately this increased swelling of the discs means there is a higher likelihood of pain first thing in the morning.
To avoid pain first thing in the morning do not make any spine bending movements but instead use the hip hinge technique (described above). Instead of bending over to tie your shoelaces, sit down and bring your foot towards you promoting a more neutral spine sparing posture, which will reduce pain and the likelihood of further injury to the spinal tissues.
5. STOP DOING SIT UPS IN WORKOUTS
The most latest research that is coming out is that sit ups and crunches are not good for a person with a painful back. Note, for people without a painful back sit ups could be advocated but it depends upon the goal of the individual. All the tests are showing that sit ups and exercises that promote spine flexion are causing people problems and keeping them in-pain for longer. This could be due to the high torque that the hip flexors put on the back during a sit up or less so a crunch. Instead use stiffening core exercises like the front plank and side plank for more effective and lower risk alternatives. Remember you don't get a six pack from sit ups, but you do from great nutrition and no back pain!!
I hope these 5 DIY strategies to reduce back pain can be of help to some. All back pain is specific to the individual so if these techniques are not helping, then please go get some expert advice to further explore the reason for your pain.
The team here at Functional Fitness Bristol are trained to work with clients that have back pain or have had a history of it, so if you want more personal advice please shoot us a message - were here to help!
Until next time, stay out of pain.