Some older people suffer in silence with back pain, (some not so silent!) but the common point is that a lot of older people do suffer. They don’t need to.
People say things like, “I have a little back pain every now and then, but I am getting on now. It’s to be expected.” – No!
It is of course true to say that the older we get, the thinner our muscles get. But this isn’t something we have to live with; we can build and maintain their strength again with a few simple rules to living well.
Rule 1) When you’re sitting or standing, remember not to slouch. Remain as upright as possible because, if you lean to one side, you put pressure on the disks in your back. This is a major cause of back pain.
Rule 2) Always make sure any work surface, whether standing or sitting, is the right height for you. Chopping veg in the kitchen, working on your computer, eating your dinner… your elbows should ideally be at a right angle and, if seated, you should use armrests. Shoulders back and down helps with posture.
Rule 3) Don’t stay in any position for too long as we tend to ‘seize up’. Our joints and muscles stiffen and make movement uncomfortable. Keep the muscles warm and flexible by changing position and walking round at intervals.
Rule 4) Don’t try to lift objects that are too heavy for you… that includes people! Lifting children or grandchildren who are getting a bit big, is a very common mistake in many families.
Rule 5) Maintain a good and proper diet – more healthy, less weight, better back. And when you look good, you tend to feel good too!
Rule 6) If you suffer from a bad back and you’re a smoker – my advice is to quit. Smoking reduces blood flow to the lower spine and causes spinal disks to degenerate.
All of the above are just nice and easy ways to help reduce pain in your back on a daily basis.
On top of that, there are exercises you can do for extra strength, extra stability and extra comfort.
Next time, I’ll chat you through some of the simplest exercises that can be done anywhere, anytime.
Spinal Touch is a unique and effective light touch technique.
Its aim is to bring the spine into mechanical balance by realigning the body’s centre of gravity which is situated on a plane between the fifth lumbar vertebra and the first sacral segment.
The treatment is based on the principle that such a realignment can play a central part in restoring health. It works by releasing tension in adjacent muscles, vertebrae and nerves.
In both its postural assessment and its treatment, Spinal Touch has the great virtue of being so gentle and non-invasive that no physical harm can be done with it.
Although it is best known for helping with back ailments and associated disorders, Spinal Touch can be of benefit in a far wider range of conditions. It is especially effective in conditions which are stress related.
Please feel free to contact me for information on where to go and what to do if you’re interested in Spinal Touch.
Here’s what some of my patients think about Spinal Touch.
There are two types of back pain in pregnant ladies: true back pain and pelvic girdle pain.
True back pain was probably always there, and is caused by poor posture in your everyday life. Of course, poor posture during pregnancy is unavoidable and so it exacerbates true back pain.
Pelvic girdle pain is caused by movement in the pelvis as the body gets ready for birth. This is very different and must be treated differently.
True back pain in pregnant ladies.
This is very common and can be debilitating. You can follow my ‘back facts’ on Facebook and Twitter; these explain why back pain occurs, so deals with avoidance. This blog deals with the treatment and handling of true back pain.
Treatment and handling of true back pain in pregnant ladies.
– Core stability exercises are vital to protect your lower back. When you bend forwards, the extra weight on your stomach makes your lower back work extra hard. Good core stability means good posture, which means less back pain. https://fatemehthephysio.co.uk/fatemehs-dvd/ (I’m constantly happy to give free advice to anyone with back pain. My DVD, however, provides a visual guide that you can use at home, in the car or at work.)
– You must have the correct posture when seated and when standing. Please scroll down to read my “Feeling good – from top to toe” blogs.
– Exercise regularly. There are many simple exercises you can do to help your back. They’re not over strenuous and are suitable for women at various stages of pregnancy. Whenever you exercise, you must listen to your body… if your body says ‘no’, don’t do it. (My DVD can show you everything you need to know.)
– When your back is strong, external factors will have less of a negative impact on your back. Please scroll down to read my ‘Manual Handling’ blog. Manual Handling isn’t just for the workplace; it’s for home life too.
– Pregnancy should be a pleasure. Take regular breaks, rest with your feet up, maintain your fluid intake, exercise to a level that suits you and, I’ll say it again… take regular breaks!
Once the baby arrives, your life will be beautifully hectic and you need to enjoy every second. True back pain will come and go dependent on whether you remember to look after yourself.
So please take care and I’ll see you next week to talk about pelvic girdle pain.
Thank you your time
Manual handling is very underestimated! Yet it’s crucial to avoiding back pain and long term back damage.
Manual handling is a simple set of common sense points.
There are 4 major areas you need to address before lifting anything…
1) Item – you should answer ‘no’ to all of these…
a) Is the item an awkward shape and size?
b) Is the item too heavy for you to carry?
c) Is the item unstable (does it ‘shift, is it ‘unpredictable’?)
d) Do you really need more than one person to move this item?
e) Is the item hazardous? (hot, cold, sharp)
2) Task – you should answer ‘yes’ to all of these…
a) Is lifting from above the head or below the knees being avoided?
b) Is twisting being avoided?
c) Is the item manageable?
d) Do you know your route and is it clear?
e) Does someone else know what you’re doing and where you are?
3) Environment – you should answer ‘yes’ to all of these…
a) Have you got enough room to lift and move the item?
b) If you’re on an uneven floor, do you know your route well?
c) Is your route clear of obstacles?
d) Indoors or outdoors – have you considered how your environment might change during the lift?
e) Is the place you’re moving to, ready to receive the item?
4) You – you should answer ‘yes’ to all of these…
a) Are you fit and able enough to lift the item?
b) Are you correctly trained, if training is required?
c) Do you have the correct lifting equipment, if equipment is required?
d) Do you have the correct protective equipment, if equipment is required?
e) Have you answered all the above questions correctly?
The above list sounds like lots to learn, however, it’s mostly common sense. Sensible thinking equals sensible lifting.
The most important rule of all is this one – use your head… not your back.
Thank you for reading
Okay, here’s part two of my ‘Top to Toe’ posture advice.
This one is for when you’re standing –
Whether you’re standing in a bus queue or guarding Buckingham Palace – there’s a right and a wrong way to position every part of your body.
So, here’s the right way to stand, from ‘top to toe’…
Your head: should be facing forwards. As with sitting, your neck muscles are only perfectly balanced when you’re holding your head straight. It is good, however, to roll your neck at intervals in order to stretch and warm the neck muscles. This keeps them flexible and stops them from seizing up.
Your shoulders: should be back and relaxed down. Rolling them forwards and ‘slouching’ when standing, rounds that lovely natural curve in your spine. This puts pressure on your disks, can cause nerve damage, and it will certainly lead to lower back pain.
Your chest: should be ‘open’ (so, shoulder back!). You will get tired more quickly if your breath is restricted; don’t underestimate the effort required simply to stand.
Your hips: should be facing forwards and be in line with your shoulders and heels. Your hips are a sturdy, mid-way, centre of balance. As with your neck, you can roll your hips at intervals in order to stretch and warm the muscles.
Your feet: should be shoulder width apart to form a wide, sturdy base. If your legs get tired when standing for a long time, move one foot slightly behind the other and shift your weight onto the back foot. Alternate to rest each leg in turn.
Everything matters – from top to toe
Fatemeh the Physio