Nearly 80 % of the population suffers from backache at least once in their lifetime. It is the most common reason for a medical appointment. However, neuralgia or problems such as sciatica or a slipped disc are not the most common causes. A wrong movement, poor posture and a lack of physical activity are mainly responsible for these muscular or joint pains.
When and who to consult in the event of backache
After a violent injury, it is strongly recommended to be seen as a matter of urgency. Back pain can also appear after physical effort or being badly positioned for a length of time. If the discomfort does not go away after several days, or if it gets worse, it is advisable to contact your general practitioner who can refer you to a specialist, whether this is a chiropractor, a physical therapist or an osteopath.
To relieve lumbago or a stiff neck – acute pain – it is better to opt for osteopathy where you can be treated for spinal problems, often caused by a wrong movement. Physical therapy sessions can treat the causes of chronic lower back or neck pain, often caused by weak muscles and a lack of flexibility. Massages can also help relieve osteoarthritis, which is wearing down of the cartilage which covers the vertebrae.
Alternative medicine like acupuncture can also help. In addition, a lumbar support belt can be prescribed by a general practitioner depending on the intensity and type of pain.
What is a good position for easing backache?
According to the World Health Organisation, a sedentary lifestyle has become a real public health problem worldwide. In our society, more and more types of work make employees and contractors sit in a static position for long hours in front of a computer. To compensate for this lack of movement, it is essential to adopt good posture so as to vary the pressure exerted on the skeleton. The spinal column should therefore be slightly curved, not straight and not too bent over.
When sitting, place yourself at the back of the seat, with weight distributed over the buttocks and thighs, parallel to the ground and forming a right angle with the calf. At a desk, the choice of chair is essential to guarantee an optimal seating position. The ideal solution for people in pain is to use an inclined chair so that it transfers the body’s weight from the hips to the thighs and from the knees to the ground. As far as possible, change position regularly. Walking and stretching will compensate for a static position.
In a standing position, keep the head straight, the neck lengthened and the shoulders horizontal and relaxed. Pull in the stomach slightly to as to support the spine, while the pelvis is slightly tilted back. With your back against a wall, you should be able to feel the wall along the length of your back. Keep the knees soft and feet flat against the floor. Finally, avoid lying down. Bed rest will only increase stiffness. Keeping moving is the best remedy for back pain.
At the same time, it is of utmost importance to allow yourself moments of relaxation to relieve muscles and reduce stress. To best revitalise, it is advisable to choose a zero gravity position in a suitable relaxation chair . Recommended by the medical community, it is the most relaxing position of all. The legs are elevated, the thighs and chest therefore form an angle of 127°, the perfect angle for relaxation. The spinal column is in a neutral position, the back is eased, breathing is calm, circulation improves and legs fell lighter.
What kind of exercise to relieve a backache?
Some simple bending or core strength exercises can really help relieve pain. Longer term, it is highly recommended to participate in a sport such as swimming or walking.
- Child’s resting pose (Balasana)
This yoga-inspired stretch is advised in cases of chronic pain to ease the lower back. Kneeling on the ground or on a mat, stretch the torso over your legs, while extending the arms forward. Hold the position for between 30 seconds and 1 minute. Get up slowly by unrolling the spine, vertebra by vertebra.
- Fold the knees onto the torso
This exercise is effective for relieving lower back tension. Lie on your back with your knees folded onto your torso, using your hands for support. Hold the position for between 30 seconds and 1 minute, exhaling deeply. Finally return to the initial position, by slowly unfolding the knees. Repeat the exercise five times.
- Stretching the posterior muscle chain
Excellent for easing the lower back, this simple exercise is easy to do at home and helps with muscle strengthening. Lie on the ground, with the legs against a wall at a right angle. Hold the position for between 2 and 5 minutes. To get up, bring the legs slowly down to one side and use your arms to help you stand back up. Repeat the exercise three times per week.