Back pain is very common and it is estimated that 8 in every 10 people in the UK are affected by back pain at some point in their lives. In fact, back pain is one of the biggest causes of work absences and is responsible for more than 12 million days lost every year in the UK.
Although most cases of back pain improve within four to six weeks with treatment at home, for some sufferers, the pain can continue for months or even years and may require the expert advice and treatment from a GP, specialist doctor or physiotherapist.
Due to the complexities of the spine, back pain can be challenging to provide general advice on. Pain usually occurs in either the cervical (neck), thoracic or lumbar area of the spine and is caused by a variety of factors. For example, pain in the neck and upper thoracic are very often linked to bad posture and often require incorporating specific pectoral muscle stretches (chest). On the contrary, pain in the lumbar spine can sometimes be more chronic and can be linked to tight hamstrings or hip flexors.
With back exercises and stretches recommended by the NHS and in association with Back Care Awareness Week, Ele King Sports Massage Therapist at Prime Health our diagnostics centre in Weybridge, Surrey shares some simple stretches which may help provide relief if you experience back pain.
4 stretches to help relieve general back pain
1. Stand upright with feet hip-width apart. Place your hands on top of your hip and gently twist backwards. Hold for 30-60 seconds. Do the other side.
2. Position yourself on the floor on all fours. Legs directly under your hips and arms straight under the shoulders. Lift your arm and hold for 30-60 seconds. Do the other side.
3. Lie on your stomach. With your elbows underneath your shoulders, place your hands in front, palms facing down. Slowly and gently lift your head and chest. Keeping your neck straight, tilt your shoulder. Hold for 30-60 seconds. Do the other side.
4. Lie on your back, knees bent up. Stretching your arms out each side, gently drop your legs to one side. Ensure you keep your shoulders and arms flat on the floor. Hold for 30-60 seconds. Do the other side.
If you experience any pain when carrying out any of these stretches, stop immediately. If you are unsure on the correct technique please consult your GP, a physiotherapist or book a consultation with Ele King at Prime Health.
Regular stretching can help relieve back pain. In addition, it can help strengthen the muscles in your back which may reduce the chances of getting back pain in the future.
Ele King, stresses the importance of recognising the different type of back pain;
“If someone feels they’ve ‘pulled’ a muscle and therefore its acute pain, they should take things gently for a couple of days and start using anti-inflammatory treatment. It is very important that individuals recognise this is very different from chronic (long term pain) which means it may need a little manipulation and may be due to other imbalances within the body.”
If you are experiencing back pain and would like to speak to one of our highly experienced healthcare professionals, please contact our friendly team on 01293 534 043.