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Ten tips on back care

04 October 2017

Here’s some advice from our physiotherapy team at Spire Manchester with top tips on how to manage back pain and how to prevent it recurring.

1. Try not to worry about your back pain

A high percentage of people will experience back pain during their lifetime.  Although it can be worrying and often quite debilitating, it is very common and rarely dangerous. The spine is designed to be a strong, mobile and stable structure so is not easily damaged.

2. Stay active and keep exercising

Exercise is proven to be very effective in reducing back pain and can be continued as a strategy to prevent future episodes. Swimming and short walks are good ways to remain gently active.

3. Resume normal activities but pace yourself

Avoiding activities and prolonged rest tends to cause higher levels of pain, greater disability and poorer recovery. Try to keep up with normal activities but pace yourself with these activities by giving yourself short spells of rest. For example if you normally clean the whole house on a Saturday, try spacing the cleaning out over the week, doing 20 minutes each day rather than doing it all at once.  

4. Sleep is important

Getting a good, restful night’s sleep is very important. Sleep is good for general health and wellbeing but more specifically it reduces stress and makes you less susceptible to the triggers of back pain and also helps you cope with the pain when it does occur.

5. Check your work station set up

If you’re an office worker it’s always useful to check you have a good supportive chair and that your desk, computer screen and work equipment are all set to the appropriate height and in the correct position. Ask your line manager if you are unsure and they should be able arrange a Display Screen Equipment (DSE) assessment for you.

6. Take regular breaks from sitting at work

If you drive or sit at a desk all day long you should avoid long periods of prolonged sitting, this can often make your back feel stiff and painful. Your spine is designed to be mobile, therefore every hour you should get up for 5-10 minutes to move and walk around the office.

7. Try not to rely on painkillers

Painkillers are useful for short term pain relief only. They do not speed up recovery and they shouldn’t be used as a long term treatment for back pain. They should only be used in conjunction with other measures such as exercise.  

8. Don’t fear bending and lifting

Bending and lifting are natural and functional movements so should not be avoided. Your spine is a strong and stable structure designed to allow you to bend, twist, turn and lift so unless these movements cause extreme pain they should not be avoided.

9. Why not try Pilates

Pilates is a great way to exercise and strengthen the deep core muscles that stabilise the spine. Not only is it effective in rehabilitating and treating back pain it is also effective at reducing the risk of future flare ups and it’s a great way to exercise and keep fit. Here at Spire Manchester Hospital we offer physiotherapist-led clinical pilates classes.

10. If it doesn’t clear up, seek help

The most common cause of back pain is a muscular strain or sprain and normally this will clear up in time, especially if you follow these physiotherapy tips. However, if your back pain does not clear up after 6-8 weeks, make an appointment to see one of our physiotherapists who provide expert assessment and treatment for back pain.

Written by Anna Laws, Spire Manchester Hospital Physiotherapist.

Anna Laws is a specialist musculoskeletal physiotherapist at Spire Manchester Hospital. For more information or to book an appointment with Anna, please call 0161 447 6900.

 

The content of this article is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the professional medical advice of your doctor or other health care professional.

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