It seems like all of us have suffered from back pain at one time or another, so we can all agree on one thing: it’s a real pain.
When your fitness regime has started to slip, getting back into fitness can be tricky. According to a study commissioned by Voltarol and The Huffington Post, 23% of us cite fear of injury as a reason for lapsing on our workouts in the first place.
Well, guess what? Working out can actually be beneficial if you’ve a tendency to suffer from back pain. A study published in February 2016 in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that exercise reduced the risk of lower back pain.
So fight the urge to avoid the gym because you’re worried about pain - getting back on track with an active lifestyle can help your pain, as well as improve your overall health and wellbeing.
First aid for back pain
According to NHS guidelines, the heat products that people reach for in the first few days after an injury can encourage blood flow which will tend to increase bruising and inflammation. The NHS advises that for 72 hours after getting injured, people should avoid heat, alcohol, running (or strenuous exercise) and massage (the acronym HARM makes it easy to remember).
If you’re unlucky enough to suffer from back pain, Voltarol Pain-eze Emulgel provides up to three times more effective muscle and back pain relief than non-medicated gel. Its triple effect relieves pain at source and reduces inflammation, which helps speed up recovery and get you back to doing more of what you love.
For those suffering from back pain, here’s what you need to know - and the stretches that will help you to keep it in check...
What causes back pain?
“Low back pain can be contributed to by a number of different factors; repeated, sustained or unfamiliar postures can often be associated with exacerbating low back pain,” explains chartered physiotherapist and GSK Human Performance Lab Expert Panellist, Stuart Elwell.
According to Elwell, low back pain is generally on the rise across all age groups, indicating that there may be a cultural issue with how we’re moving, resting and the activities we’re choosing to pursue.
Contrary to what you may be thinking, sitting on the sidelines isn’t necessarily the best medicine.
“In many presentations of low back pain, complete rest is no longer advised,” says Elwell.
“Moving gently into directions of movement that ease pain can often be complementary and return someone back to activity.
“Simple activities, such as gentle walking, offers subtle movement to the structure of the spine, allowing reactive spasms to improve and movement to be regained. Stretches and movements to target the problem are often specific to the condition, but working with the advice of a physiotherapist, the majority of acute presentations of low back pain are best managed with exercise at the first instance.”
“Unfortunately the majority of the population will experience low back pain at some point in their lifetime and often presents with some additional muscular tone changes (commonly referred to as spasm), leading to localised stiffness and discomfort,” says Elwell.
Start the day with stretches
While moving is advised to cope with back troubles, popping painkillers isn’t. In fact, there are plenty of stretches you can do to help your back out. You can even start the day with them.
“The first thing that I advise my patients to do is stretches before they get up in the morning, because most people wake up and jump out of bed,” says Sally Lansdale, osteopath and clinical director of Spinex Disc Clinic.
“They have lower back ache or sciatica, because what happens in the night is that your discs swell - a natural process and the time for healing, when fluids get into the discs and and bring nutrition to that area. It’s why backs are often stiffer, with more pain, in the morning.”
Lansdale recommends stretching one leg out and bending the other leg up to your chest, holding for 30 seconds, before swapping and bringing the other knee up. Hold for 30 seconds.
Then bring both knees up to your chest, by which time you’re a little looser, and you should be able to bring your knees even closer to your chest. Hold that position for 60 seconds.
“What that does is really stretch your lower back into flexion – one of the arcs of movement that you’re stretching,” explains Lansdale.
Voltarol Pain-eze Emulgel contains diclofenac diethylammonium for pain and inflammation. Always read the label.
Stuart Elwell and Sally Lansdale do not endorse any products or brands.
Voltarol is a trademark owned by or licensed to the GSK group of companies.
The GSK group of companies does not in any way sponsor nor is otherwise affiliated with any third parties mentioned in this article.