Dealing with back pain: What not to do

feet walking
Staying active is an important part of treating back pain. Image: Shutterstock

Back pain is a big health concern for over-60s and the general population, with 80 per cent of people experiencing back pain at some time in their lives. The holiday period is among the worst times for back pain, due to people sleeping in different beds, starting new exercise regimes, running barefoot on the beach, and other activities that aren’t usually a part of every day life.

How can people avoid succumbing to back pain? While there are no guarantees, consider the following key points on what not to do regarding your back.

Don’t stop moving

This is the big one. When we are in pain we restrict our movements, to avoid the discomfort. But over time we gradually move less and less. We are made to move, and when we don’t, problems emerge. Research shows less movement, such as bed rest, is the worst possible thing for back pain. Moving a little as often as possible is key to treating the pain. Once pain subsides it’s important to keep moving, and increase your range of movement, which becomes a preventative measure.

Don’t give up on exercise

Ad. Article continues below.

A major frustration with back pain is being limited in what exercises you enjoy. But it’s so important to keep up with any exercise regime, or consider altering regime to something more achievable.

Exercise which combines low, medium and high intensity exercise is excellent for preventing back pain. Low intensity exercise, like walking, should be done most days of the week – walking ranks about two or three out of 10 in terms of intensity.

Moderate intensity exercises such as jogging, swimming, cycling or going to the gym is when you’re pushing yourself to about five or six out of 10, ideally two or three times a week. High intensity is pushing to around eight out of 10 for a short period, and research shows results are possible just twice a week. If you have a heart condition, or any health problems, be checked by a medical professional before engaging in high intensity exercise.

Don’t fall into bad posture habits

At Elite Akademy, we have treated countless people with back pain from bad posture. A big one to watch out for is seated posture – ensure your seat is the correct height, that your feet are on the floor, that your computer screen is the right height and that you are the correct distance from the desk.

Ad. Article continues below.

Don’t reach for drugs

Drugs such as anti-inflammatories have been found to have a limited effect on back pain in many cases. A study by the George Institute for Global Health, released early in 2017, found back pain drugs have little benefit but cause side effects.

Drugs can put you in a vicious cycle of pain and temporary relief, which does not address the real underlying cause of your back pain. Break the cycle and look for more sustainable treatments.

Don’t overdo your new exercise regime

New Years often inspire new plans to become healthier and engage in more exercise. But many resolutions don’t make it past the first injury, which usually occurs from over-doing it.

Ad. Article continues below.

Some things to watch out for in summer include walking or running barefoot along the beach. Without support from proper footwear you can easily succumb to back pain just from walking too far on the beach.

Don’t forget to understand your back pain trigger point

If you suffer from regular back pain, you should have some idea what sets it off. Whether it’s stress, poor seated posture, working too hard for too long in the garden, pushing yourself too hard during exercise, or a combination of factors, respecting your triggers is an important preventative measure.

Don’t forget your pillow

Sleeping in different beds on holidays can have you coming back home feeling worse than when you set off! While you may not be able to take your bed with you, knowing you have a good pillow is a positive first step.

Do you have back pain? How do you handle it?