You brush your teeth and see a dentist; you check you oil and have your car serviced – but when it comes to backs, almost two-thirds people in the South-West have been suffering for up to 10 years and most haven’t done anything about it.
Suffering in silence is not only causing untold misery to thousands of Somerset residents – it’s also costing business a fortune. According to research from the British Chiropractic Association, a third of us have had to take time off work because of back or neck pain.
There is a myth that back pain gets better by itself; unfortunately, on the occasions that it does, it nearly always comes back again – and the problems tend to get more serious with time.
Home cures – used by over 90% of sufferers – are often ineffective: the traditional hot water bottle can actually make many types of back pain worse; bed rest also tends to hinder rather than help recovery and recent research has shown paracetamol of no help for back pain … yet these remain the treatment of choice for most people.
There are, of course, things you can do to help your back: our own #5stepping campaign, featured elsewhere on this site, is there to help your back as well as improve your waistline but, if your spine is groaning under the increasing stress of modern life here are our top tips for easing the load:
• Stand up: Sitting for more than 4 hours a day is not just a recipe for spinal suicide, it’s going to damage your general health too. So take regular, short breaks every half an hour and stand and walk whenever you can.
• Walk on: All 5-steppers already know the health benefits of walking – it’s simple to add extra steps to your everyday routine.
• Stop slouching: When you are sitting, relax and make sure you have your bottom against the seat back with your shoulder blades touching the back rest of the chair.
• Drive right: Given that we’re all going to be spending longer in our cars for the next few weeks, make sure the seat leans slightly backwards with your elbows at a comfortable angle for driving.
• Drink up: Like the rest of us, backs are 70% water – try replacing one caffeinated drink a day with a glass of water.
The final tip is pure common sense – you don’t wait for your car to break down or your teeth to rot; if your back’s been hurting for more than a few weeks, or if the pain keeps coming back see a chiropractor: managing back pain is how we make our living!