FEELING GREAT: How to help friends avoid backache

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Some tips for keen runners and walkers who want to avoid back ache…

I couldn’t help but notice a big mistake that I saw one or two of the Harriers make as they ran round Dalton Piercy and through Elwick.

Here’s the scene: I just happened to be riding past on my bike after work as 20 or so runners took part in a very well organised and structured race though the back roads of our town.

Hat tip for that, as it must have taken some serious organising and more people were involved in making sure it was safe for the runners, than actually taking part. Lots of children involved too, which was great to see.

And, as I wizzed past on my bike heading to the Greatham back lane, I spotted one or two of the runners who had a tendency to be leaning forwards as they were running.

And that’s a problem as leaning forwards when you walk or run can add a huge amount of stress to the lower part of your back, and it also stretches hamstring and calf muscles too.

And that’s not good.

But, I know why people do it. And it’s usually because as they walk or run up a hill, or even into a strong breeze, it’s human nature to think that it’s going to be easier if you get your head down and push into the wind, or lean forwards up the bank and quite literally fall forward.

And sure, doing that will feel easier. But, it sure isn’t good for your lower back.

And, like most of the health tips that I give out to people, the gold is in understanding that doing something once is okay, but doing it time and time again is going to cause some problems. Particularly, that is, if you’re aged 40+!

First of all, we’re designed to stand up straight and tall. And if you’re not doing that, either at work as you lean over a desk or a factory work bench, or at home in the kitchen as you prepare a family meal, than you’re adding 10X more stress to your lower back than when you are in any other position. Not good in the long term.

And secondly, if you’re doing it when you’re aged 40+, you’re going to experience problems quicker. Those problems include backache and stiffness at best, sciatica or disc type problems, which are severely painful, at worst.

So, here’s my “tip” for you this week:

Whether you like to run or walk, make sure that you’re upright at all times when you do it.

If you find yourself leaning forwards to make it easier for yourself, it’s because you’re lower back isn’t strong enough and your muscles are tired.

Keep on doing it and you’ve got a guaranteed way of an injury coming your way, at some point soon.

And you know what? You can protect yourself from this type of back pain simply by heading to a pilates class that teaches you how to make your lower back stronger.

Last thing from me: fixing these things is often really simple – the hardest part is having the problem pointed out to you in the first place.

Why not ask your walking friends or a running colleague to pay close attention to your posture, the next time your out? And then, maybe set about fixing it with a trip to a pilates class if you think you’ve got a problem.

Either way, you will feel the benefits of doing it.