Most of us don’t even think about our backs until they give us trouble. Then it is the end of the world. Back pain can be excruciating and debilitating. Our spines are central to everything we do. All the muscles that connect to them play a part in every movement we make. Even a small move when you are suffering from back pain can feel like a catastrophe. Pity the poor parent who has to lift a child or groceries or even climb a set of stairs. Back pain can affect any region of the back. Most commonly it is felt in the upper back and neck regions and also in the lower back. What are the best ways to deal with these types of back pain and how can we prevent them happening in the first place? Here are a few thoughts on what you can do for a bad back.
Preventing back pain
We might notice that as a rule children do not suffer from back pain unless of course they have been specifically injured. They may not suffer from other types of degenerative pains and illnesses either, but we can learn something. That is, the lifestyle we lead must somehow contribute to our trouble.
This is not to say that being unfit is a direct cause of back trouble, but it certainly does not help! Many of us can say that we are not as fit as we should be. If that is the case and being that way is not helping any back problems, then it is fair to say that we could do something about that. That might involve losing some excess weight for example. It could involve being more active in terms of walking, running, taking stairs and swimming.
All of these activities and indeed any aerobic activity will help to shed the pounds. It may be that you could join a gym or start attending a class in Pilates. It may be that you can invest in some home fitness equipment and start your own regime. Whatever it is, the more activity you do, the better your overall health will be and the more flexible you will become. In general, the fitter you are, the less back trouble you will experience. Having said that, some fitness regimes may not help you if you are already suffering and in pain.
The way we sit and lie
More than one wise observer has commented that the way we sit in the West has a direct effect on the level of back trouble we experience. It is very simplistic to suggest that everyone who squats because of a lack of furniture has no back trouble. But there is some truth to the fact that we often sit badly for very long periods of time. This certainly is not helping our posture and possibly is exacerbating the trouble. There are two areas of concern; both affect different areas of the back.
The first deals with the lower back region. The vast majority of our soft seating furniture is bad for our backs. You could correct that a little bit to say that the way we sit in them is causing the trouble. But the fact remains that slumping into soft sofas while watching TV cannot be healthy for any spine. Instead, we should be sitting upright and supporting ourselves especially in the region of the lower back.
The other area that we should be addressing is the bed we are sleeping on. It is a sad fact that many of us assume that the bed we have is sufficient. ‘It’s a mattress, and I will lie on it,’ is not the most enlightened viewpoint. It doesn’t seem to matter that we might not be sleeping that well or that we have back trouble directly as a result of this assumption. The fact is your mattress should be supporting you extraordinarily well. That old mattress that we bought as a bargain some years ago is more than likely not helping you at all.
We should be investing in the best mattress we can afford and trying understand how that can help our posture and even alleviate back ache. Take a look some contemporary mattresses such as a Casper mattress and see how it compares to your current make and model. You will find that there is a tremendous amount of technology and development that has gone into producing a quality mattress. One that can give you the right amount of support. For most of us, that is far firmer than we might think.
Support, while you sleep, is vital. That also extends to the pillow that you are using to support your head and neck. If those pillows are too high they will be pushing your head up and not allowing your neck the support it needs. Find the right pillow and your spine and back will thank you for it.
The way we work
If you are in a physical job involving lifting heavy weights, it can take a toll on your back. If this is your profession, you probably know how to lift without straining your back. Sadly many of us who are not so wise regularly try to lift things at home that are too heavy. Either that or we simply lift badly. The rule is always to bend your knees. If you do this, you will take the pressure off your back. If the weight is taken in the lower back, then you will suffer.
If you are already suffering from back pain, you should take the advice of a professional. The people best placed to answer your questions and give you advice are specialists who have studied anatomy. They include Physiotherapists and Chiropractors. Massage can help muscles relax and release stiffness. Yoga is often recommended for sufferers because it is a gentle way of stretching and releasing that most of us can do at home on a daily basis. A little light exercise is beneficial for a bad back, which is essentially where we began. The best cure is, of course, going to be prevention. And an exceptionally good mattress!