The knowledge: How to cope with backache
Advice from a chiropractor on the good habits you can adopt to tackle backache.
What type are you
Understand what type of backache you actually have - you should treat it differently, depending on whether you've hurt the disc or the joint. If you've leaned into the car to grab a case, or you've been digging the garden, and your back has locked, the more mobile you keep yourself, the better. If you've tried to lift something heavy, or twisted something at the gym and blown a disc, you need to lie down and take the pressure off. It's more likely to be a disc problem if there's leg pain.
Assess your workspace
Backache is the biggest reason for calling in sick - more than the common cold. So, more days are lost to the economy from backache than from any other ailment. If you work in an office and suffer from backache, find out what options you have to tailor your workspace. Get up out of your chair every hour - do some walking on the spot, or some kind of activity. If you're hunching over your screen, try to reverse the action - pull your shoulder blades back and down and then push your chin up.
Find the right exercise
Both Pilates and yoga are great for backache, depending on your strain. If you know that you're stiff, but actually quite strong, look at a yoga class. If you're relatively supple but weak, think about Pilates. Try to go to a class twice a week.
Having a good posture will help with sore back muscles. The simplest thing to remember is to stand tall and walk tall. Try to lengthen the spine as much as you can. This will automatically engage all the posture muscles in the right way. Imagine that your head is floating up to the clouds.
A good habit
Every morning, try to do some basic stretches, to lengthen your muscles. I have patients who ask, "When should I stop doing them?" and I say, "The day you stop brushing your teeth". Joint degeneration is a fact of life, and we need to do everything we can to slow that down. You should stretch and exercise and treat your back properly. In bed, never sleep on your front, because you will inevitably end up twisting your neck.
As cold as ice
People know that if they turn their ankle or strain their knee, they should put ice on it straightaway. For some reason, when they strain the joints of their back they heat it up, and it's not right. They'll take an anti-inflammatory to calm the inflammation, then put a heat pack on it to heat it up, and the two go against each other. In the acute stage of backache - which is within the first 48 hours - always use an ice-pack.
Sunday Indo Life Magazine