At KCF, we have got your back....
The push this month is ‘Sit less, do more on your feet’ but we know that this isn’t always easy. Here is some key information about your back and some chair-based stretches and strengthening exercises to be done anywhere, from your dining table, to at your desk, sat on the sofa or even on the bus.
Ø ….is stronger than you may think
It is strong and stable and back pain is common and luckily rarely dangerous.
You may have perfectly normal changes to your spine. You shouldn’t stop activity.
Scientific studies now indicate prolonged rest and avoidance of activity for people with low back pain actually leads to higher levels of pain, greater disability, poorer recovery and longer absence from work.
While it is normal to move differently and more slowly in the first few days of having back pain, this altered movement can be unhealthy if continued in the long-term. Try our classes Postural Correction Yoga and Physio Led Pilates to retrain these movement patterns.
Ø …is designed to bend and lift
While an injury can occur if something is picked up in an awkward or unaccustomed way, it’s most likely to just be a sprain or strain.
The important thing is to practice and get your body used to carrying different loads and weights in a way you find comfortable and efficient.
Exercise is shown to be very helpful for tackling back pain and is also the most effective strategy to prevent future episodes. Start slowly and build up both the amount and intensity of what you do and don’t worry if it’s sore to begin with – you won’t be damaging your back. Try working with one of our PTs to ensure good technique.
No one type of exercise is proven to be more effective than others so pick an exercise you enjoy which fits in with your daily schedule.
Ø …will not get better quicker with painkillers
There is no strong evidence on the benefits of painkillers and they do not speed up recovery.
They should only be used, in the short term, in conjunction with other measures, such as exercise.
Surgery is rarely needed and the results for back surgery are no better in the medium and long term than non-surgical interventions, such as exercise so a non-surgical option. Exercise and activity, should always come first.
Ø …can be improved with good quality sleep
My previous blogs on sleep and stress allude to the importance of sleep in tackling back pain. This is because it reduces stress and improves your overall feeling of wellbeing, making you less susceptible to the triggers of pain in the first instance and helping you to cope when it does occur.
Ø …may be painful without any damage or injury**
Many physical or psychological factors can cause back pain and often a combination of these are involved.
Now over to you! Have a go at these exercises to get your body moving.
1. Sit upright with feet flat on the floor, cross your arms and reach for your shoulders. Without moving your hips, turn your upper body to the left as far as is comfortable. Hold for five seconds. Repeat going right. Do five of each.
2. Loosely grasp your hands behind your neck. Push your elbows back, your shoulder blades squeezing together. Avoid pressing into the neck. Hold for 5 seconds.
3. Gently interlock your fingers. Push your palms away from your body and take your chin to chest. Hold for 5 seconds . Reach over your head, bending to the side at your waist and then straighten up. Swap sides and repeat 10 times.
4. Sit in a chair with your knees open and your feet on the floor. Lean forward, bending at your low back. Reach your hands down towards the floor between your knees, and hold this position for two to three seconds. Slowly return to the starting position.
5. Sit upright and away from the back of the chair. Pull your shoulders back and down. Extend arms out to the side. Gently push your chest forwards and up until you feel a stretch across your chest. Hold for five to 10 seconds and repeat five times.
6. Sit upright, hold on to the side of the chair and straighten your left leg with your foot off the floor. With leg straight and raised, point your toes away from you. Point toes back towards you. Try two sets of five stretches with each foot.
7. Sit upright with shoulders down. Look straight ahead. Slowly turn your head towards your left shoulder as far as is comfortable. Hold for five seconds and return to starting position. Repeat going right. Do three rotations on each side.
8. Sitting upright, look straight ahead and hold your left shoulder down with your right hand. Slowly tilt your head to the right while holding your shoulder down. Repeat on the opposite side. Hold each stretch for five seconds and repeat three times on each side.
1. When you’re sitting down, march on the spot for 2-3 minutes.
2. Sit on the edge of the chair, feet hip-width apart. Lean slightly forwards. Stand up slowly, using your legs, not arms. Keep looking forwards, not down. Stand upright before slowly sitting down, bottom-first. Aim for five repetitions - the slower the better.
3. Rest your hands on the back of the chair for stability. Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Slowly bend your knees as far as is comfortable, keeping them facing forwards. Aim to get them over your big toe. Keep your back straight at all times. Gently come up to standing, squeezing your buttocks as you do. Repeat five times.
4. Rest your hands on the back of a chair for stability. Raise your left leg to the side as far as is comfortable, keeping your back and hips straight. Avoid tilting to the right. Return to the starting position. Now raise your right leg to the side as far as possible. Raise and lower each leg five times.
5. Rest your hands on the back of a chair for stability. Standing upright, raise your left leg backwards, keeping it straight. Avoid arching your back as you take your leg back. You should feel the effort in the back of your thigh and bottom. Repeat with the other leg. Hold the lift for up to five seconds and repeat five times with each leg.
By Lauren Waterworth at Kate Campbell Fitness
( Level 3 Personal Trainer, Sports Massage Therapist, Level 3 Pilates Instructor Antenatal and Postnatal, Pilates Instructor & Specialist Paediatric Physiotherapist) Find out more about me here.
***If your back pain does not clear up after 6 – 8 weeks, make an appointment to see your GP or physiotherapist***
Physiotherapists provide expert advice, guidance and treatment for back pain. This is to help reduce your chances of future episodes, while improving your overall health and wellbeing.
These symptoms are very rare but you should contact a doctor if you experience any of them:
Ø Difficulty passing urine or having the sensation to pass water that is not there
Ø Numbness/tingling in your genitals or buttocks area
Ø Loss of bladder or bowel control
Ø Impaired sexual function, such as loss of sensation during intercourse
Ø Loss of power in your legs
Ø Feeling unwell with your back pain, such as a fever or significant sweating that wakes you from sleep