Look After Your Back


We have all heard the figures – approximately 80 percent of the population will experience lower back pain at some stage in their life. Though most of the population suffering chronic back problems tend to be the over 50s with arthritic and overuse complaints, we do still see a disappointingly high number of young people with acute low back pain.

One simple reason for this is that our generation has become increasingly more sedentary in our work environment. The invention of the computer, and hence prolonged sitting, was probably the biggest single contributing factor to the increase in lower back problems. Add into the equation slouching at home on the couch in front of the TV, sitting in the car/train/bus to get to and from work, sitting down for meals/drinks/movies and heavy lifting. Then you can also mix in some house duties- vacuuming, hanging out the washing and probably the most notorious cause of back pain, gardening and you can see how much strain the back must endure day in and day out, year after year.

If you haven’t experienced severe back pain then you can’t possibly know how debilitating and frustrating it can be – let alone painful. A lot of these acute back problems can be avoided with just a little effort.

The number one preventative measure is posture. Good posture means maintaining the three natural gentle curves of the spine. In your lower back this means it should curve gently inwards – even being flat is not ideal. A good way to ensure you maintain this is to make or buy a lumbar support for your chair or car. Simply get a bath towel, fold it in half lengthways roll it up into a cylinder shape and bind it with some masking tape – EASY! Now just remember to place it in the lower part of the back to give you all the support you need.

It is also important to avoid prolonged sitting. If your job requires this you should make an effort to move around in you chair and definitely get up every half-hour or so even if only briefly. Your workstation may also be creating problems. If available, your company’s occupational health and safety officer will be able to assess your workstation, and often by making a few simple adjustments, injuries can be prevented. Your physiotherapist will be able to give you some advice as well. There are some very simple exercises your physiotherapist can show you to help prevent problems and keep the spine mobile.