back pain George Morris physio Wigan

Back pain: Four ways to improve posture and prevent back problems

George Morris physiotherapy Wigan

Back pain: Four ways to improve posture and prevent back problems

BACK PAIN is a common and often long-term problem affecting many people in the UK, however there are steps you can take to reduce your chances of developing the health issue.

Back pain is one of the most common causes of long-term sickness in the UK, and usually develops as a result of an acute strain on a muscle or ligament, or pain from the facet joints in the spine.

Alex Clarke is a physiotherapist at Neo G - which offers supports and products designed for injury rehabilitation, general day to day support and active lifestyles.

Here are his tips for preventing back injuries from occurring:

Look at your posture

Having poor posture is one element which can lead to back problems, and many of us are guilty of sitting incorrectly at our desks at work.

“More of us than ever before are living sedentary lifestyles and spending large portions of the day sat down at a desk, which can lead to problems if you haven’t perfected your posture from the outset,” warned Clarke.

If you work at a desk, you should review your desk space and office chair “first and foremost”, advised Clarke.

Set your keyboard to be in front of you when you are typing and leave a gap of around four to six inches between the front of the desk and your keyboard.

This is because if there is too little space between the desk edge and your keyboard, extra pressure may be put on joints and back muscles, which can lead to problems over time

In terms of how you sit on your chair, you should avoid slouching as this will increase tension in your muscles.

“Sit up straight by imagining a piece of string pulling you up from the top of your head, pulling the stomach in and drawing the shoulders back at the same time. Getting into the habit of sitting this way might feel strange at first but it will help prevent problems in the long run,” Clarke said.

Look at your lifestyle

Keeping active and exercising can help to treat back pain if you already have it, and help prevent it in the long run.

This is because exercise stretches and strengthens the muscles in the back, helping combat flare-ups of pain.

Clarke advises trying low intensity activities such as swimming, walking, yoga and Pilates.

You should also look at your diet, as carrying extra weight can add pressure to your back, and possibly add supplements to your diet to keep the joints in your back healthy and mobile.

Increase your strength

Alongside regular exercise, Clarke recommends adding 15 minutes of stretching into your daily routine, using exercises such as knee to chest stretches, bridges and the cat/cow yoga pose to develop back strength.

Exercises which strengthen your abdominal muscles can also help prevent back pain, as back problems can be caused by a weak core. Planks and other ab exercises can help.

Assess your treatment options

If self-help measures don’t seem to be helping enough, you can look at trying heating pads, which can help recovery and treat muscle and joint pain by improving blood flow and circulation to the back.

Back supports can also support and stabilise injured, weak or arthritic backs during sport.

“However, if you continue to suffer the best option is always to see a GP or chartered physiotherapist, who will be able to tailor a treatment plan to you. Always see a professional if the pain doesn’t improve after a few weeks or if pain is preventing you from doing your day to day activities,” said Clarke.

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