by Steve Halsall
A Celebrity Personal Trainer
Five steps to ease back pain
A couple of years ago I was invited to attend the ‘Back Pain Show’, taking place at Olympia in London. My initial thought was how can there be a massive show dedicated to back pain? I mean, how much time and money can be devoted to back pain? Having done my research it turns out that back pain is quite a problem and according to Backpain.org.uk, is responsible for nearly half the days off from work in the EU each year and its cost to society as a whole is a staggering 240 million euros per year.
I appreciate that there are many forms of back pain and to attempt to come up with a ‘fix all’ solution would be foolish. However, there are basic lifestyle choices everyone can make that help reduce the symptoms and go some way to reducing the pain and suffering so many people are going through. The way I see it, no one is born with backache. It is a consequence of poor lifestyle choices and physical mismanagement. I know that’s harsh but it is true.
Clearly as a population we have never been more sedentary. Millions of people, young and old are glued to their computers and television sets. All of which do nothing for the supporting muscles of the back.
From my own experiences of back pain, there has been one particular episode when I was 33 years old, searing pain that meant I could not even put one foot down without real pain. I was told I would never run again, play football and would need an epidural to be able to treat it. Clearly that was wrong but only by looking back and understanding how I solved it can I possibly shine some light on this huge sociological problem. Dealing with the pain and getting through to the other side is not always straightforward. Back pain is all consuming and never ending when you have it.
Here is my five-point plan on helping reduce the symptoms of back pain and going some way to prevent it:
Lose weight and work out
If you have a gut or a belly then the chances are you don't have good core strength. A lot is made of having a good core and over the last ten years Pilates and functional fitness have both had a major impact on how people work out and create a strong abdominal area. Always look at the big picture, sustained weight loss of one pound per week is proven to stay off and in the space of fifteen to twenty weeks, huge improvements can be seen and felt. Balanced workouts, three times per week that involve cardio, resistance and basic core work will help improve your strength massively.
Getting up and keeping moving throughout the day is vital. Sat in the same position for too long is not a good idea. Sitting up right, not slouching, uncrossing legs and getting into the right working position will all add up and reduce the amount of pressure on your back.
Mobility and Flexibility
Taking part in a gentle yoga or basic Pilates class will help in keeping you flexible and mobile. If you do not have the time, then adding a quick routine into your day will help. Basic skeletal mobility movements take about three minutes, no time at all. Simply add the movement onto something you do already, for example, after you brush your teeth in the morning do the mobility routine:
- Hip circles
- Pelvic tilts
- Shoulder shrugs
The discs of the lower back and spine are your body's shock absorbers. The more hydrated the body, the more effective the lumber discs are. Ensure you get through two litres of water per day.
Lastly, as well as the physical interventions, there is another side of well-being that has a massive effect on the health of your back. Emotions, they tend to manifest themselves physically in the lower back. Stress, grief, tension and anger all have an impact on how tight our backs become. Letting go of all of these in whatever way you can will help reduce the over all tightness of your back.