We've Got Your Back in October
October kicks off with National Backcare Awareness Week from 2nd - 6th October and with lower back pain causing more disability than any other condition, affecting nearly 1 in 10 people in the UK and becoming more common the older you get, we thought it would be fitting to share some handy tips to help maintain a healthy back as well as how to overcome the discomfort of having a bad back.
The key to a restful night is to put your back into neutral. When it comes to sleep, neutral means a position that supports the way your spine is shaped; which is a forward curve at the neck and lower back and a backward sway in the middle. Just as there is good standing posture, the neutral position is a good sleeping posture.
Firstly, it is important to have a mattress and pillow that keep your spine correctly aligned and stress-free. Choosing a mattress and pillow differs from person to person but we highly recommend visiting showrooms or even trying out mattresses and pillows at hotels so that you can work out what will give you the best possible nights sleep.
Back sleepers: If you have lower back pain, a small flat pillow under your knees may help your back curve naturally.
Side sleepers: A pillow between your knees can help to keep the pressure off of your hips.
Tummy sleepers: Place a flat pillow under your tummy can help keep the spine's natural curves.
Don’t worry about keeping your body in the same position all night though It’s normal for you to move around a bit while you sleep, and that’s a good thing because a little movement can help ease pressure on your back
Adore Your Core
Your core muscles which include your lower back and abdominal muscles, need to be strong and supple in order to support your spine and take pressure off your lower back, A fun way to work your core is with a hula-hoop which helps to improve posture and to eliminate lower back pain with an added bonus of tightening the mid section and boy is it fun. Simply spin the hoop at your waist for one to two minutes for one to three sets. You will be surprised how something so simple can pack a mean punch!
These Shoes were made for walking....
Whether you are walking for exercise or just want to get where you want to go, your shoes play an important role in supporting your lower back. Good shoes provide a supportive base that helps the spine and body remain in alignment. Whilst heels and particularly stilettos make look good they majorly impact your posture and often result in walking with an arched back and knees slightly bent which then forces the quadriceps to work overtime, shortens the calf muscles, and puts 200% more stress on the kneecaps. Just don't go digging out your flats too quickly though! Flat shoes can actually cause 25% more impact pressure on your foot with every step. Your hips and lower back take the brunt of it and then the lack of padding and arch support in flats also causing the ligaments and tendons in the feet to overstretch causing painful fallen arches. Ouch!
So next time you are looking to buy a new pair of shoes, make sure you look for something that has a low heel with a contoured insole to support your arch. Make sure the area of the shoe that fits the back of your heel is snug, but not overly tight. Ideally shoes that flex with your foot and with half an inch of wiggle room at the toes will allow for proper flexing and gripping as you walk. Also make sure that the when you are trying the shoes on that they are comfortable and don't count on "breaking in" or stretching your shoes.
The Magic of Massage
Feel the benefits of massage. Good massage has several fantastic health benefits for the back. It naturally increases blood flow and circulation, which brings needed nutrition to muscles and tissues. This also helps in recovery of muscle soreness from physical activity or soft tissue injury (such as muscle strain). It also increases the "feel good" chemicals in the brain which can aid with depression and anxiety whilst also decreasing tension in the muscles that can improve flexibility. If you fancy embarking on some DIY massage then try our tennis ball self-massage tip below:
Grab a tennis ball and stand against any wall (or you can lie on the floor). Position the ball between your back and the hard surface. Avoiding crunching over very bony areas eg. centre of spine. Move your body up and around to allow the tennis ball to ease out with the pressure any knots and tension.
Or, if you want to get the professionals into your home or office for a massage then get in touch. We have have a nationwide team of massage ninjas just waiting to release tension and ease any pain to help you feel human again.
Take a Stand
The discs in your lower spine are loaded 3 times more while sitting than standing (90kg of weight to be exact) so long periods of sitting can create or aggravate a painful back condition, especially when sitting at a desk and/or looking at a computer screen, as our natural tendency is to slouch and lean forward, stressing our lumbar discs even more.
It's also important to do whatever you can to avoid sitting for long periods. Get up to stretch and walk around every 20 to 30 minutes, try working at a standup desk for at least part of the day, or get up and pace around when talking on the phone. The spine is meant to move to stay healthy, and movement fuels the spine with healthy nutrients. Feel free to try out one of our desk exercises below and we have a whole host of other exercises that can be done at your desk.
In an office chair sit with your left foot flat on ground (not dangling , not in heels) place you right ankle over left knee Straighten up Inhale As you exhale bend forward and try bring both hands to floor (or if you need a helping hand grab the desk) hold for as long as is comfortable and count up to 15 breaths.
We hope our tips prove useful.
Glo also offers on site workshops and services to help maintain a healthy back and release back pain that range from our affordable and ever-popular seated office massage and workstation assessments to our yoga and pilates classes which can also be adapted at your desk. For further information and pricing, please get in touch.