Over one half of the working population reports experiencing back pain over the course of a single business year, so it’s clear that back injuries are a very common issue. To add to this, 80% of people report encountering back pain throughout their lifetime.
With these statistics in mind, it isn’t surprising that back pain is the second most common reason for visiting a Physiotherapist and the number one cause for missing work. Causes of back pain can include muscle strains, disc ruptures, joint irritation and sprained ligaments. Thankfully, most cases aren’t very serious and victims will recover completely with the correct treatment.
Before we go through a list of ways to minimise back pain, you must first understand that there are no miracle cures for recovery and that your body must heal in its own time. This is not to say that the recovery process can’t be sped up, though. Here are some tips from Bend + Mend to help you recover quickly and minimise the effects of back pain should it ever occur to you:
1. Lightly Exercise: Without light movement, injured back muscles may stiffen up and make it hard to move. This is preventable by trying some light stretches to build strength and flexibility. Start off very lightly, just testing your range of motion to begin with. Exercises should be approved by your Physio.
2. Hot and Cold Therapy: You may find that one of these methods work better for you than the other, so try both of them and see which suits you.
Hot Therapy– Applying wet heat to the injury will reduce muscle spasms and cramps while increasing blood flow to provide the nutrients needed for recovery. Using dry heat can dehydrate your skin tissue, so be sure to apply heat by using a cloth that’s been soaked in hot water. Also make sure that you have at least 4 layers of towel between the hot pack and your skin to avoid a burn, and remove immediately if the heat becomes uncomfortable. People with problems with their skin’s sensation need to get advice from a Physiotherapist before using a hot pack.
Cold Therapy– Applying ice to the injured area will reduce swelling and inflammation while temporarily numbing the pain. As with hot packs, you need to take care applying cold packs: make sure there is a towel on the skin first to avoid an ice burn, and if you have skin sensation issues issues before ice application then you need to get some guidance from a Physiotherapist first.
3. Sleep Well: A good night’s sleep will help reduce strained muscles and inflammation, however if you’re tossing and turning throughout the night you could be worsening your back injury even further. Try sleeping with a pillow between your knees for extra relief.
4. Begin Clinical Pilates: Pilates is growing in popularity very quickly for its various health benefits. Pilates is a great low-impact method of exercising that helps increase skeletal muscle mobility and bodily awareness. It also teaches breathing skills that are essential to release excess muscle tension. Although Pilates is great for keeping healthy and preventing injury, if you’re already injured you should be trying Clinical Pilates instead. Typical Pilates can aggravate your injury further, while Clinical Pilates targets your specific injuries without harming other areas.
5. Strengthen Your Core: Not only does a six-pack look impressive, but a strong core of deeper abdominal muscles will relieve pressure off of your back by carrying weight more effectively on a daily basis.
6. Maintain a Healthy Weight: Carrying too much weight around the abdomen is a common cause of back muscle tension. As well as many other benefits to keeping within a healthy weight range, losing just a few kilos may be all you need to eradicate back pain.
These tips are all quite simple so you should be able to incorporate them into your lifestyle with no problems at all. If you’ve tried these steps and you still haven’t felt any relief, be sure to see your Physiotherapist as soon as possible. They are professionals when it comes to back injury and can give you a diagnosis and treatment programme tailor-made to suit you.