10 tips for back care
Low back pain is a common concern, which is not a specific ailment but rather a symptom that may occur from a variety of different processes. In some cases, people with low back pain despite a thorough medical examination, no specific cause of the pain can be identified. According to the KZN Department of health, back pain affects up to 30 – 40 % of South Africans at some point in their lifetime. I have recently suffered from severe backache and been diagnosed with acute backache.
Low back pain is one of the most common reasons to visit a doctor’s office or a hospital’s emergency department. It can disrupt your daily activities and quality of life. However, there are some things you can do to alleviate and manage it.
1. Be careful.
A large percentage of lower back ache and injures result from heavy lifting or spending too much time (all day) in a bent position e.g. gardening. Learn to life heavy objects using the correct lifting technique. Always bend your knees and hips and not your back.
Before applying any strain on your back, you must stretch. Not the 10 seconds waking up from bed kind of stretch, as your muscles need to be warmed up and prepared. This includes stretching before going for a hike, golf or cycling. A proper stretch is 10-15 minute not the bend and touch your toe type stretch.
3. Avoid overuse
The combined nature of an unusually stressful week at work, followed by a vigorous workout and then finally sleeping on an uncomfortable couch with no support precipitates back strain. As a result, the final event of stretching when you get up from bed or a big sneeze is usually just a feather broke the elephants back type situation.
4. Avoid repetitive strain
Sitting in front of a computer or sewing machine for hours on end are activities that perpetuate repetitive strain on the joints between the vertebrae and will make you more vulnerable to acute exacerbation of back strain.
5. Calcium and magnesium
Proper contraction and relaxation of muscles rely on adequate levels of magnesium and calcium. Insufficient levels lead to chronic muscle tension spasm and even cramps.
The spinal joints rely on the muscles to support them, therefore regular back strengthening exercises provide great support for the spine. Be careful of what kind of exercise you do as some can aggravate or cause additional damage. These are some of the back-care exercises you can try to aid in relieving the pain. However please be sure to consult your doctor before you try them.
7. Do regular maintenance therapy
Unfortunately, mechanical back problems are not curable as they are related to lifestyle situations. For example, stress, posture, lifting, carrying and driving. However, these are part of our daily lives that we can’t avoid. Like you would service your car, servicing your spine helps prevent wear and tear.
8. Reduce excess acidity
The modern lifestyle that we tend to lead promotes excess acidity levels which exacerbate muscle stiffness and tension. High intake of coffee, alcohol, sugar and refined food and stressful lifestyle all lead to high acidity levels. Going on an alkalinising programme can make a huge difference towards reducing and even eliminating back and neck problems.
It’s important to sleep in a comfortable bed that offers your spine the support it needs. A mattress that is too hard or too soft can precipitate back problems. If it is too soft, it doesn’t offer enough support and if it’s too hard it doesn’t allow for the spinal contours resulting in stiffness and very achy joints.
Many of the health problems we face today are a result of the past paced treadmill life we lead. We hardly make enough quality rest time. In this fast-paced mode, the muscoskeletal system never shuts down and the end result is excess tension, tightness, spasm and wear and tear.
So, be kind to your back. It’s yours for life!