Back pain is one of the most common ailments in the UK. Whether you only experience back pain from time to time or you suffer from prolonged periods of discomfort, it’s important to take care of your back. Here are some tips to help you feel more comfortable during periods of backache and reduce the risk of damaging your back.
It’s understandable to assume you should rest as much as possible if you’re experiencing back pain, but studies show it’s actually better to get moving and stay active. Gentle exercise strengthens and conditions the muscles, reducing your risk of further injury and helping to improve your posture. Not all types of exercise are suitable if you’re suffering with back pain and you should always seek advice from your GP or physiotherapist before starting a training regime or starting a new activity.
Correct your posture
Poor posture is one of the most common causes of back pain, particularly amongst people with desk jobs. Your posture affects the alignment of your spine and can contribute to long-term problems. Therefore it is really important to make sure you stand and sit properly. When standing, hold your head high and your shoulders back, keeping your back straight. When sitting, keep your back straight and shoulders back. Avoid bending forwards or slouching. If you do work at a desk, ensure your computer is at a comfortable height and that you don’t need to lean forward to reach the keyboard. It’s important to use a chair that has lumbar support (this means that it cushions your lower back) and take regular breaks that allow you to stand up and move around.
Visit your doctor
If your back pain shows no sign of abating or is starting to get worse, it’s essential to seek medical help. There might be treatments and therapies you can try that will reduce pain and prevent further discomfort. Examples of beneficial therapies include chiropractic therapy, physiotherapy and osteopathy.
Stretching is good for your back because it reduces tension in the muscles and builds strength and flexibility. Stretching can also help to make you feel more comfortable. When you do stretch, take care to be gentle and avoid bouncing or coming out of the stretch too quickly, as this can damage your back.
Keep it warm
Heat can be therapeutic for back pain, so use a heat pack, hot water bottle or deep heat cream to gently soothe aches and pains. Ice packs can also help if you have swelling or your pain has come as the result of a fall or sports injury, but make sure to use a towel to cover the ice. This will prevent any damage to your skin and make it feel a bit more comfortable.
If your back pain is starting to interfere with your day-to-day life, over the counter painkillers such as ibroprofen and paracetamol can help you feel more comfortable. However, this should only be a short-term solution. If you have back pain on a regular basis, it’s advisable to seek medical advice. You shouldn’t take painkillers on a long-term basis unless advised to do so by your doctor.