A Spine Mess: The Problem of Back Pain

Categories Lifestyle


Chances are you’ve experienced some form of lower back pain. You’re not alone.

Musculoskeletal disorders are the most commonly reported cause of work-related health complaints and the most costly to treat.

The major reasons for back pain are inactivity, obesity and poor posture and muscle conditioning. Professor Chris Maher, director of musculoskeletal research at the George Institute, says prevention is definitely better than the cures. “Participation in an exercise program after the original episode of low back pain is highly effective in preventing recurrence.” In other words, get off your butt.

So what’s a sufferer to do? Lose weight, if necessary, because even a suggestion of a pot belly can pull your body forward and strain your lower back. Strengthening your abs is a must as toned abdominal muscles take a lot of the workload off your lower back. Aerobic exercise such as walking, cycling and swimming are also good for your back, overall fitness and posture.

Bad posture puts you on the inside track to developing a bad back. Developing a good posture helps you to look more confident, keeps all of your joints in alignment and reduces the risk of arthritis and long-term spinal problems.

The biggest posture-assassin is sitting at a desk all day. An ergonomic chair is ideal as it allows your back to rest comfortably. If you don’t have one, just roll up a small towel or place a cushion in the small of your back and position your body in the textbook S-shaped spinal curve. Distribute your weight evenly on both hips and don’t lean over your desk. Plant your feet on the floor and don’t cross your legs.

Stand with your back against a wall, leaving a small space between the wall and your lower back. Tighten your lower abdomen and hold for five to 10 seconds. Repeat.

The cat stretch is spot-on for loosening tight muscles in your back. Get on your hands and knees then arch your back, tighten your abdomen and tuck your butt under.

The muscles between your shoulder blades can tighten if you hunch your shoulders. Either sit or stand and squeeze your shoulder blades together as far as possible without overdoing it. Repeat these exercises for 10 to 15 minutes daily and you’ll go a long way to preventing chronic pain.