Estimates from the Australian Bureau of Statistics 2007–08 National Health Survey suggest that about 1.8 million Australians (9.2% of the population) have back problems. It has also been estimated that 70–90% of people suffer from lower back pain in some form at some point in their lives. With statistics like this, it's clear our population’s back problem is a significant health issue.
For many it's our lifestyle which is the major contributing factor for the development of a sore back. For example, long hours sitting, minimal or no exercise, poor posture, inadequate nutrition or obesity all contribute in significant ways to an increased risk of experiencing an acute or chronic back condition. Like many of the more common health ailments affecting our society with some proactivity towards better management of self they can be prevented.
The Australian Government has a resource website dedicated to ‘promote health and wellbeing’ which provides an excellent summary of the more major signs, symptoms and causes of a back problem, including:
pain in the lower, middle and upper back caused by a range of injuries and conditions
pain including tingling, numbness and weakness in the legs that starts from the lower back
narrowing in the canal of the spine through which the spinal cord passes
degeneration of the spine caused by wear and tear on the joints
pressure on a segment of the spinal nerve attached to the spinal cord
neck pain/stiff neck caused by disc degeneration.
I spend much of my professional time caring for clients with back pain. Pain is the key symptom for most back problems. Some unfortunate people may experience constant or persistent pain associated with their condition, which is not only physically demanding but has a significant effect on the person’s mental health as well. Looking after your back should be a priority. I have listed my Top 10 tips for a healthy back together with a quick video I did showing a series of movements designed to strsngthen and stretch the muscles, ligaments and tendons of your spine.
Exercise your back regularly. Walking, swimming (especially backstroke), using an exercise bike are excellent for strengthening your back muscles. This video
will show you some easy to do movements to improve your spinal flexibility.
Always bend your knees and hips, not your back.
Never, ever twist and bend at the same time = disaster for your back
Always lift and carry objects close to your body
Use a rucksack not a sling bag over one shoulder.
Maintain a good posture whilst seated and standing.
Sit with your feet flat on the floor and use a backrest.
Quit smoking. Smoking reduces blood supply to your disks making them less flexible and supportive.
Lose any excess weight. Obesity is a major and significant contributor to back pain. The back simply can not handle the weight it is being forced to carry all day.
Get a good mattress suited to your height, weight, age and sleeping position.
Prevention is always better than cure. A back injury can have a significant effect on the quality of your life, however many back problems are preventable. Please take note of my recommendations and put them proactively into your life. As the statistics at the beginning of my post show a sore back is a very common problem. Be smart, look after your body including your back and you can be a part of the 10% or so never to experience the pain of a sore back.