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April 2015 Blog Back pain part 2: Helping your back through balance and strength

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The clocks have gone forward and the sky is bright well into the evenings now. What joy, such relief. The last few days have been so sunny and colourful, perfectly reflected in the daffodils. But back to business and back to backs! How have you all been getting on with your back adjustments covered in last month’s blog? I have great hope in your diligent compliance…

As promised back pain part 2 will cover how to move more effectively to off load your back and work other areas of your body more efficiently.

daffodils

 

 

 

 

 

 

Keeping things simple

Think of your body as a simple machine. It operates by forces (your limbs pushing and pulling) working across fulcrums (your joints bending and straightening). If the forces are greater than the design can tolerate, the machine will keep working but inefficiently. If you are lucky this can be for some considerable time (years and years) but for most people at some point the pushing and pulling results in mechanical strain on joints and muscles which is eventually felt as pain.

Therefore, starting to use your body as it was intended will load and move it more efficiently. This in turn will help strengthen where you are weak and stretch out where you are tight.

The most common strain our body endures occurs when bending our backs to pick things up.
So you’re feeling a little chuffed right now?
If you are one of those people who always lift ‘correctly’ when something is heavy or awkward and you only bend your back to pick up light items, I’d like you to take a moment to reflect on your state of chuffedness. In most cases the times you lift heavy objects is minimal compared to the repeated bending you do to pick stuff up off the floor, reaching into low cupboards or shelves, loading or unloading the washing machine, tying laces, working in the garden, placing a cuppa on a coffee table, leaning over a work bench; the list is endless.
The weight you are lifting is pretty irrelevant. It is the accumulative amount of time your back is held in that bent over position each day, over the weeks, months and years that counts. It is this repeated, seemingly low grade strain, outside of the design remit that causes your back to grumble at best and at worst immobilise you in pain.

The message here is bend your knees regardless of the weight!!!

As I write this I can hear the call of the wild. It’s crying; “I have to bend my back because my knees won’t support me and or hurt too much when I try to bend them.”

Have faith my friends, there is always a solution…

A solution – big bottom happy back manoeuvre™

Provided you are prepared to work at making changes and you keep the changes small and steady, progressing forwards is very do-able. For those with a long history of back pain this may mean simply slowing the rate of further deterioration down. Even if you only bend your knees a small degree within your limit of knee or back pain occasionally through the day, accumulatively over the weeks, months, years this will equate to a significant amount of ‘offloading’ for your back. It’s the sum of the parts here that is important not the isolation of a single big bottom happy back manoeuvre™.

I can hear all your naysayers crying “yes but (no pun intended) my knees hurt if I bend them at all”. If this really is you, the trick is to bend from your hips moving your breastbone in front of your knees and start with more of a big bottom happy back ‘bob’™ than a manoeuvre. Imagine you were going to perch on a high stool. Refer to my pert Stickman 3.

Come hither all willing stickmen subjects. Clear the fog, lift the veils, bring clarity where confusion prevails and bring hope to all aching backs and knees of Britain.

1. Golfers bending stickman

 

golfers bend

 

Instead of bending your knees, keep your standing leg straight and raise your back leg, tipping your upper body forwards.
Pivot at your hip, keep your back straight.
Hold onto something if it helps to balance.

 

 

 

2. Lunging stickman

lunge

If you are able to bend your knees or one knee, squat down as far as is comfortable.
Keep one foot forwards and one back.

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. Pert squatting on a high stool stickman

pert squat

If you would like to try improving the strength of your legs but your knee pain limits you, try a tiny big bottom happy back manoeuvre™.

Remember to tip your body forwards from your hips keeping your back straight.

 

 

 

 

 

Next month – more on ‘keeping it simple’ for greater health to live work and play.
As always, if you have any questions regarding any of the above or regarding some other health issue, please feel free to contact me either by email or through the contact form on my website. Alternatively give me a call. It’s always good to talk!

Rachel

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