Getting a better back

Back pain is a very common complaint and is one of the major causes of missed work. There are many causes of back pain. For many people it’s our sedentary life – too many hours each day sitting and then doing sudden twisting or weight bearing activity. The pain can affect muscles, ligaments, cartilage or bone. (Before you do anything, check with your doctor.)

My back gives me repeated trouble. Several times a year the pain stops me doing normal activity, to the point where even getting dressed or going to the toilet can be difficult without assistance. Actually, I have been bedridden with back pain.

When I am suffering back pain anti-inflammatory pain killers give momentary relief. I have tried Valium which acts as a relaxant but it does nothing for me except to make me sleepy. (But, hey, at least I forget I’m in pain?) Heat compresses also work, (but you can’t use these if the muscles are spasming). Besides medication, normally the only relief I can get is from a chiropractor, osteopath or a masseuse.

I have a high stress job. Stress has to come out somehow and for me it is in my back. When I feel the little twinges, I know I am in for trouble. I have a triple whammy. I sit for long periods at the computer or doing paperwork, with poor posture, which makes back pain almost inevitable.

One cure: walk! This aids mobility of the spine and helps release stress. Of course, not practising what I preach, I forget to get up from the desk regularly and walk around or even do some gentle stretches. One of my office assistants, regularly nags me about the way I sit at the computer. So I do need to take more heed of her. And then when work gets busy and demands longer hours, the after work walk goes out the window. This is another thing I need to address. Cliched I know, but I need to make time for me. I deserve good health.

Part of my “healthy me” plan was to have regular treatments by an osteopath and masseuse to avoid back pain. Unfortunately, with the busyness of the end of year tasks at work and in prep for Christmas, I didn’t make it to the osteopath. With all the extra stress, my back “went”. And then Pilates classes took a break. (Pilates helps my back by strengthening my core and stretching.) Let me tell you, all that work wasn’t worth it. And the lost time from back pain is more than the time I would have taken to have the appointment. Well, for 2013 I will put these in my diary before work fills it up!

Unfortunately, it would appear that with all the extra walking I am doing, my hip flexors are now very tight, which in turn is pulling my lower back out. So I have to add stretches to avoid further back pain. Pain is a funny thing. I knew, and have been repeatedly told by both the osteopath and chiropractor, to do regular stretches. But as soon as the pain goes, I forget and drop the stretches. I know, I know! They have to become routine. I will list the stretches that help me in my next post.

To sum up to avoid back pain, care for your back:
1. Move regularly.
2. Stretch.
3. Strengthen your core.
4. Check your posture.

Today’s decluttered item = T-shirt I was given by a friend who cleared out her own wardrobe. I have never worn it. The colour looks like a dirty cream on me. A top I keep thinking I will wear to work under a jacket. I haven’t in over a year, and can’t see it happening. And it doesn’t work with my casual clothes either. So off to the charity shop.

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