This week (11 – 15 October, 2010) is BackCare Awareness Week. An annual event organized by the largest back care hello this is a charity in the UK, it is aimed at raising awareness of back pain: the causes, prevention and treatment.
Back pain and the health of your spine is something that many of don’t think about, until they are affected by it. A study reported that almost half (49%) of the UK population has experienced back pain and it has been estimated that 4 in 5 adults will experience back pain sometime in their life. For some, it can be just an ache or soreness that will go away on its own after a short time, but for others, the pain can be such that the quality of life is severely hampered.
The lower back is responsible for supporting most of the body’s weight, and as you can imagine this puts the back under a lot of strain. This will be more apparent as a larger portion of society races towards obesity. Incidences of back pain have risen over the decades and this could be due to our lifestyles being more sedentary than previous generations’. It could also be due to the fact that improved awareness of back pain has resulted in more people reporting it and seeking treatment. Regardless, back pain can be truly unbearable so prevention is better than cure. Here are four tips to maintaining a healthy back:
- Everyone should know this by now, but many still forget to implement it in their day to day lives. When picking up anything heavy, always bend from the knees, not the back. Don’t do this just for heavy boxes, getting a suitcase into a car counts too!
- Check your posture, slouching is not just a no-no for children. Besides sitting correctly in a supportive chair, take a closer look at how you walk. We may not notice this but anything from fallen arches (flat feet), painful shoes, to our actual gait can affect how we walk. This could lead to the body overcompensating and can affect our knees and in turn, our backs.
- Exercise helps keep your back fit and healthy thus helping to prevent injury or possibly speeding up recovery time. Do stretches to help keep your back flexible, but never strain.
- Along with exercise and an active lifestyle, eat sensibly and well. Besides keeping you healthy, a good diet helps fight against obesity thus lessening the strain on your back.
- Carry loads in a backpack and not a sling or messenger bag, so that the weight can be evenly distributed. Oversized handbags are fashionable but having all the weight on one side can affect your posture and back.
If you do suffer a back injury or you experience back pain, you should seek medical attention. In some cases, the sooner you treat the pain, the better. Nowadays, sufferers have many options besides conventional western medicine and alternative therapies are especially effective for back pain that doesn’t have an obvious neurological or spinal problem.
- Acupuncture, which is most famous for treating back pain, was recommended by the National Institute of Clinical Excellence as an NHS option for lower back pain.
- Osteopathy, physiotherapy and chiropractic are common therapies that involve physical manipulation.
- Alexander’s Technique is a passive therapy that helps people correct their posture and unlearn bad habits.
Remember, your back is for your life.
Have you experienced back pain? What treatments did you find helpful?
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