Cooped up with a bad back? An osteopath gives their top tips on how to help ease your agony
Feeling a bit cooped up? Tense and achy? It’s not surprising if you are, really, considering the situation. To add to this, many people in the past fortnight have been thrust into a new world of working from home – and the sudden speed that it all happened meant there was little time to set up a proper office.
I’ve seen images circulating online of makeshift desks made from coffee tables, cocktail cabinets – and even ironing boards.
Clever, yes, but also a recipe for a sore back.
Feeling a bit cooped up? Tense and achy? It’s not surprising if you are, really, considering the situation, writes osteopath Garry Trainer
As an osteopath, much of my time is spent helping unravel the self-inflicted damage done to the body by poor posture at work.
For starters, I always tell patients that it’s important to sit properly.
That doesn’t mean being bolt upright all the time or having to invest in an expensive ergonomic office chair.
Just try to be self-aware. If you feel as if you’ve been slouching, stand up and walk about for five minutes. Or change position. Being static for too long is a major cause of discomfort.
Try leaning back slightly in your chair, with your feet on the ground so you have a slight outward curve in your lower back.
This distributes your body weight more evenly and takes some of the pressure off the spine. It’s also worth sitting with your pelvis slightly higher than your knees, so put a cushion under your bottom.
Many people come to see me when they’re suffering an acute episode of back pain.
This happens when sore, overstretched or compressed back muscles become inflamed, and begin to press on the nerves around the spine. It can lead to a small section of muscle locking – we call this a spasm.
Just try to be self-aware. If you feel as if you’ve been slouching, stand up and walk about for five minutes. Or change position. Being static for too long is a major cause of discomfort
This often happens when we least expect it – while brushing your teeth or picking up something off the floor – and can be excruciatingly painful, and debilitating. The good news is, over three or so days, it usually begins to ease.
During this time, it’s important not to load the back by doing heavy lifting – but do try to keep moving. As pain begins to subside, start to introduce gentle loading movements such as twisting, turning and reaching.
It goes without saying, a flareup like this is the last thing any of us need during the lockdown.
At the moment we are permitted a daily dose of activity outdoors, if you are able to. Walking is among the best activities for back pain prevention.
And, to further help you avoid discomfort, I’ve devised this simple stretching routine to do every day.
If you’re already a bit stiff and in pain, you should find the exercises immediately soothing.
If your back makes you a bit wary of exercise, try applying a hot water bottle to the problem area for a few minutes before starting.
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