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4 Tips to Help Chronic Back Pain

Chronic Lower Back Pain will affect at least 70% of people at some point in their lives and is the leading single cause of disability, accounting for 11% of total disability in the UK population. 95% of lower back pain is 'non-specific' meaning that there is very rarely a serious condition that causes it yet when it happens it can be debilitating and unfortunately can return again and again.

So, what do we think causes it and what can we do about it?

Common causes range from too much time spent in sitting, hunched postures, physical inactivity, bad lifting technique (at work or at the gym) and many other things that people attribute this issue to. In all likelihood it is a combination of these factors over a range of time which leads to reduced support of the lumbar spine which eventually results in a 'bad back'.

So what can you do to reduce your pain or prevent it in the future?:

1. Keep Moving! - The fear of pain can stop you dead in your tracks; with chronic lower back pain it can even get you to give up activities, hobbies or even occupations that you once loved but no longer feel you can take part in! As a result, you spend more and more time sitting or lying down which can weaken the supporting muscles further and you end up in a vicious cycle. Start off with light activity and build from there- even just short walks can make a big difference.

2. Take Desk Breaks! - If you spend a long time in the same position e.g. sitting at a desk or driving long journeys, break it up! Put an alarm on your phone and every 30-60 minutes, take even just a 1-5 minute break to walk around and have a quick stretch.

3. Stretch Regularly! - Start to get into the habit of stretching for at least 15 minutes 1-2 times per day. First thing in the morning, straight out of bed is a great way of loosening you up ready to start the day especially if you tend to stiffen up overnight and are in pain when you get out of bed.

4. Start a Specific Strength Programme! - It won't happen overnight but the best thing you can possibly do to reduce chronic back pain and to prevent it in the future is to start a strength programme focused on the muscles which support the lumbar spine and pelvis. This does not mean do really heavy deadlifts! The majority of issues happen because of weakness in the glutes (muscles in your butt cheeks), because we tend to spend so much time sitting down nowadays these muscles have basically become lazy and don't work unless they're forced to. These muscles are a major supporter of the hips and lower back so they are vital for good back health!

Through my work as the strength and conditioning coach at a chiropractic clinic I have learnt a lot about this issue specifically so if you'd like some more information about training specifically to prevent back pain please get in touch :)

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