The UK loses millions of work days every year through back pain and costs the NHS up to £1 Billion annually.
Having a bad back is the most common reason to take a day off work in the UK, however as with many conditions there are measures you can put in place to keep this risk down to a minimum, from your daily lifestyle to specific exercises. After all, prevention is better than a cure. Simply by maintaining a strong core you can help to prevent or even cure back pain.
Modern living has so many of us based at a desk for work or traveling up and down the country by train, plane or car. This paired with constantly looking down at our laptops, tablets or phones creates a ‘hunched’ posture. This has also recently been brought to life with school children, through carrying heavy backpacks and spending full days sat down. The shoulders will round forward, shortening and tightening the anterior muscles and putting a constant strain on the posterior chain. This sometimes can’t be helped as it’s the nature of the job, however if this is the case you should work to counteract it with some of the following tips; the muscles of the posterior chain and internal abdomen (transverse abdominis / Glutes / Erector Spinae) need to be strengthened whilst the anterior muscles (Pectorals / Deltoids / Abdominals) need to be stretched.
The internal muscles of the abdomen are the most vital for keeping a strong core, the Transverse Abdominis are deep muscles and act like a corset around the base of the spine. These muscles work by bracing the spine and holding you up with a strong posture. Working the Rectus Abdominal muscles (the 6 pack) which are the most common stomach muscles worked in the gym has the opposite effect, this can pull your forward and be detrimental towards your posture adding to back pain.
Numerous conditions other than a poor posture will contribute to back pain or even be the sole problem, exercise may not be able to cure these however strengthening the surrounding muscles in the correct way may help to relieve some pain or improve mobility in day to day living. These include Spondylitis, Sciatica & Osteoarthritis among others.
The following programme has been designed to strengthen the muscles needed for a strong core, the internal core muscles should be engaged on every exercise and the movements should be slow and controlled. The correct posture should be emphasised during the session, making you aware of how you should sit / stand and performing each exercise as accurately as possible. This is a generic programme and if you have any concerns you should talk with a professional to ensure you are gaining the full benefits from the exercises.
Click here for Core & Lower Back Strenghtening Programme
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