Bye bye back pain

Tags: Good Living
Bye bye back pain
Today, I am going to attempt the impossible and deal with back problems in less than 600 words! Most people who come to see me often complain of back pain. This can vary from problems in their upper, middle or lower back; the pain could have come about suddenly (acute) or it could be chronic, that has been there with its underlying reasons for a long time. Statistically, back pain is one of the most common health issues of modern times. About 98 per cent of people suffer from some form of back pain during their lifetime. Reasons for such an ache can range from the ones caused by the problems in the muscular tissues, that is, muscular strains (pulls), spasms, cramps and muscular imbalances to problems with synovial joints in the spine. The other causes are due to disc problem: disc herniations, prolapses (slipped discs), and degenerative changes to inflammatory diseases, traumas, infections and so on. No matter what the cause, it would result in pain and an inability to carry out daily duties.

So what can one do about it? I would classify solutions into two categories, depending on whether you have existing back issues or not. If you don’t have any back pain yet, don’t wait for it to start, but take preventive measures. First and foremost, check your posture. I have emphasised the importance of proper posture many times, as improper posture puts unnecessary strain on muscles and tissues and can lead to back problems. Secondly, keep your body supple. Inadequate flexibility and stiffness are other major reasons for back problems, so make sure you do your mobility and flexibility exercises regularly. Yoga is an excellent method in preserving and increasing your flexibility.

Thirdly, strengthen your core and pillar muscles. I have been repeating time and again the importance of a strong core, as it gives good support to the lower back. Strengthening the pillar muscles (those countless muscles supporting the spine) can keep the spine healthy. Pilates is my exercise of choice when it comes to all three aspects — posture, strength, and flexibility — although traditional back exercises, if done properly, can be excellent choices, too.

There is one more thing I would like to bring to your attention: keep in mind that we are living in a tri-dimensional world and we have a tri-dimensional body. So do not exercise only in one dimension. Let me elaborate. Let’s take crunches as an example. Traditional crunches are done by simply moving the body up and down, which means you are using just one dimension out of three.

Next time you do crunches, try to add the other two dimensions to the movement by performing the crunches side to side as well as in rotational movements. This way, you will not only target different angles of the muscles, but will also use the body in three dimensions, as it is meant to be used naturally. Apply this to all muscle groups and forms of exercising. It will give great results, improving movement patterns as well as overall functionality of the body, thus preventing future back problems to a great extent. Next week, we will talk about rehabilitation of a painful back. So, watch this space.

(The author is a wellness expert and runs a fitness centre in New Delhi)

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