ACTIVE LIFE: Flexibility eases back woes, improves outlook

NANAIMO – Back pain affects 80 per cent of people at some point in their lives.

Back pain affects 80 per cent of people at some point in their lives.

It can can range from a dull, constant ache to a sudden, sharp pain, and can be acute or chronic.

Neck pain, closely associated with back pain, occurs when muscles are strained from poor posture or injury, or when joints are worn or nerves are compressed.

Both conditions can be debilitating and affect a patient’s physical and mental well-being.

B.C.’s physiotherapists want to share their Physio-4 for back and neck pain – four tips on how to prevent it and keep British Columbians moving for life.

Vary your position – Sitting at computers and desks all day puts increased pressured on the spine.

After 30 minutes of sitting, make sure you walk around to keep the flow of blood and fluids to your spine.

Make sure your work desk and computer are set up properly for sitting to encourage optimal posture.

Stay flexible – Optimal spinal health means having flexibility in all directions.

If your thorax (upper-mid back and ribcage) has limited rotation movement, more load and stress can be transferred to the low back, neck or other body parts.

Check rotation by sitting in a chair with your arms crossed across your stomach – you should be able to turn equally to the right and left and see behind you easily.

If you have an asymmetry between the right and left directions, or reduced motion, a physiotherapist can mobilize the spinal joints, and supply exercises to maintain your thoracic mobility.

Keep your core in check – Regain optimal control of your deep spinal muscles (core) following an episode of neck or back pain.

A physiotherapist can provide a thorough examination of your spine, provide manual therapy and other treatment techniques, and help you regain any lost mobility by instructing you on how to achieve ideal postural alignment and prescribing exercises.

Correct postural habits – Be aware of habitual postures and positions such as always sitting on one side of the couch, slouching with your feet on the coffee table, carrying a bag/purse always over the same shoulder, sitting cross legged, leaning usually on the same elbow, etc.