Back health is an important issue for all of us, with even the slightest of niggles causing discomfort and pain. Caring for our backs is important and Back Awareness Week (3rd – 9th of October) aims to promote good back health and make people aware of the causes of back pain, as well as the treatments which are available. With a number of resources and help from different sources available to help deal with back pain, it’s important not to suffer in silence.
About Back Care Awareness Week
Back Care Awareness Week is an annual initiative run by BackCare UK which aims to raise awareness of back pain and the options available to sufferers. This year’s campaign focuses on the nation’s unpaid carers, 70% of whom suffer from back pain. For many, the work that unpaid carers do for family members, friends and others in the community is vital, and saves the NHS an estimated £119 billion each year (more than the Government’s entire annual NHS spend). When carers therefore suffer back pain, especially chronic cases preventing them from providing sufficient care, serious problems can occur. A focus on building strong backs is important, but there are many of us who are guilty of neglecting back care.
Exercise to build a stronger back
Exercise is key to ensuring a strong back, and whilst you’re not expected to lift weights in order to build bulging back muscles, taking the time to participate in exercise will not only benefit you and your back health now, but in the future too. Exercises such as swimming, walking and cycling are particularly effective for increasing back strength, whilst stretch-based exercises such as yoga and pilates can also improve your back and core strength, as well as your flexibility. If you already suffer with back pain, you should speak to your GP before exercising. In most cases, exercise will be encouraged in order to help you regain your strength, so think twice before using back pain as an excuse not to stay fit.
Laziness leads to injuries
We all look for shortcuts to save us time, but there are many supposed time or energy saving actions which can be detrimental to our back health. Not bending your knees whilst lifting for example can lead to strains and aches, causing pain and discomfort whilst attempting to lift even the lightest of objects.
Women in particular are guilty of putting strain on their backs by carrying large and heavy handbags, which can cause neck and shoulder pain too. Carrying larger loads in a rucksack and using two straps is advised, and as backpacks are making a comeback in the fashion world, there’s no better time to change your habits.
Maintaining good posture is also crucial for ensuring strong, healthy backs – slumping at your desk causes a number of concerns, whilst walking with hunched shoulders will not do you any favours. Your workplace is required to ensure that you’re comfortable in your working space, so any special chairs, footrests, screens or other equipment which helps to improve your posture should be easily available. Speaking to your occupational health representative should provide you with the help you need.
Importance of back care
Back care not only affects individuals, but those around them too. As already outlined with carers, back pain can render people unable to carry out their everyday duties, be it looking after children, household chores and work. Absences due to back pain and other conditions have a detrimental effect on our economy, and in many cases could be preventable by effective back care.
For more information on looking after your back health, the NHS website has some detailed resources covering everything from bad posture examples to lower back exercises, all designed to help you improve your back health. Educate yourself and make sure you take steps to ensure a stronger, healthier back, not just for yourself but to help those around you too.