By Louise Skeen
As a professional coach in the fitness industry, having a bad back can be an occupational hazard due to the constant lifting of equipment, rotation, reaching and bending. I can’t remember the first time I threw mine out, but I can recall the excruciating catching pain that immobilized me for several days and restricted me from all activities, including the simple routine of putting on underwear. Chronic back pain is horrible to live with and once your back, and the muscles supporting your spine, have weakened, it’s time to formulate a corrective and strengthening plan otherwise, the issue will occur regularly.
There are many products out there like magnets to wear or put in your bed, to sports rubs and anti-inflammatory creams. All promise to cure or relieve your back pain but, I’ve believe that daily stretching and strengthening exercises, is the answer to back pain.
1. Don’t sit for more than 45 minutes at a time.
Of recent times, it is suggested that "sitting is the new smoking”. Our increasingly sedentary life, due mainly to technology making life easier at home and in the workplace, and most households now have a computer with programs that entice many of us to fix ourselves in-front of the blue screen for hours at a time.
Today our daily routine takes us from bed to chair to car to chair to couch. When I first started learning about the perils of sitting. You would assume a moderate exercise habit would counteract some of this sloth-like behavior. But that not necessarily true.
When the body is in a stagnant position for more than 45 minutes, your brain is recognizing that position as the one to hold. Sitting causes some of your muscles to shorten, and if that posture becomes “locked,” it can make your whole alignment shift into a crooked, bowed mess once you’re standing.
To break this poor habit, set a timer on your phone and try to get up and walk around the room every 30 minutes, for several minutes. It’s also a good idea to stretch your hamstrings, hips, neck and shoulders, to assist your posture.
2. Build a better workspace for your back.
One of the best things you can do for your back is to ensure your chair is an ergonomic design and supports your posture. You will pay premium for a good chair but you will also save money visiting the chiropractor, sand save you future debilitating pain.
Standing desks are also popular right now so you may want to consider this option.
Keep in mind the angles of your body; your arms and legs should be at 90 degrees, and your line of sight should be straight in front of you, not angled down. Most people need to raise their monitor and lower their keyboard. If your chair is too high with these adjustments, you can always put a small step or block under your feet to compensate.
3. Sleep on your back.
The best position for sleeping is to do so on your back. The bodies alignment is, by far, the most supported. Stomach sleeping is the worst. There’s no support, especially with a soft mattress, and gravity pulling down causes your spine to bow, not to mention the strain on the neck as the neck has to rotate for lond periods. Sleeping on your side is slightly better, especially if you have a pillow between your legs however, this is still not the best to support your back.
4. Limit high heels.
As a woman, I know it’s not realistic or culturally acceptable to wear orthopedic shoes at all times. But we could all probably benefit from limiting high heels to more targeted occasions. Not only are they hard on your poor feet, but they cause your centre of balance to shift forward, straining your lower back.
Constantly wearing heels can also cause your calf muscles to shorten, leaving you misaligned when you’re walking around barefoot or in running shoes.
If you wear heels at the office, try switching to flats when you’re sitting at your desk and when you’re travelling to and from work.
5. Strengthen your pelvic floor.
Your pelvic floor is at the base of your spine and will support it in a way that a lot of other things won’t. Pilates is a great practice that targets a lot of these pesky muscles that can otherwise go unworked. Strengthening your core is the best way to keep your spine in proper alignment. If you throw your back out constantly, talk with your fitness coach, as this may be an area that you both will need to dedicate time to.
6. Move with soft knees.
Locking your knees reduces blood flow to your legs, and causes your muscles to tighten. When you stand still, and you know you will be standing for more than 30 seconds, try making a slight adjustment and allowing your knees to be soft. Although it may be a difficult habit to start, this technique will assist your lower back.
When we experience stress, we unconsciously tighten various parts of our bodies.
If you’ve been experiencing back problems and have been simultaneously faced with added anxiety and worry in your life, you may feel your shoulders and neck tighten but not realise how much tension sits in your thoracic and lumbar areas of the spine.
I suggest you explore stretching, meditation, yoga or similar relaxation tools to help release some of that internal tension alternatively, if stress is chronic and has negatively impacted your life, then I suggest you book in a free Discovery call with me. Let’s chat to create solutions to relieve stress. meetme.so/LouiseSkeen