FEELING GREAT: Shop for bad backs

Paul Gough and son Harry
Paul Gough and son Harry

A fan of the column has asked me to make you aware of this one:

“Paul. I recently suffered with a bad back a bit longer than I needed too. It’s a long-winded story but basically my GP thought that what was causing my trouble was a kidney infection. Yet, after nearly 10 days of antibiotics, I was still in pain (and lots of it). Turns out I had a bad back, and although I’m no expert on this, I can only assume what caused it was lifting too many heavy bags all on my own, at a recent visit to the super market.

“Here’s my question to you Paul… Is this type of problem common and why all of a sudden has it just happened to me now? The only thing that’s changed recently is the bags I use being much bigger and stronger, meaning I can fit more in.”

(Reader, mid 60’s, from Bishop Cuthbert, asked to remain nameless).

Ah, yes, the common problem of a GP (mis) diagnosing a bad back. It happens all the time so please don’t let it become a source of frustration. Here’s what’s likely to have gone on.

Aside from a few other physical things which I’ll come on to herein, the supermarkets are keen for you to do your bit (to the recycling cause) and will now offer you bigger, stronger, reusable bags to carry all your family shopping home it.

Problem is, that means you’re likely to be cramming more into one bag. And instead of walking back to your car with shopping bags evenly distributed in both hands, you’re possibly doing it with one very heavy bag and struggling with it.

When it comes time to throw it in the car boot and then get it out again, chances are you’re adding lots of stress to your back. But rewind for a few minutes and even consider this example of what you might be doing in the aisle.

It’s summer time, right? And summer time means stocking up on more food and drink for BBQs and family gatherings. But crates of beer and wine are heavy! And you and I weren’t designed to be always leaning over in a supermarket and picking up heavy trays of booze (or dog food, or potatoes etc etc). Now, doing it as a “one off”, is not too bad.

But if you’re wandering around the super market and always find yourself leaning in or over your trolley, or bending down to pick something up, heavy or not, it does make you a candidate for a bad back the next day. It’s a fact!

And it’s not just a 60 minute shopping dash that will cause a bad back.

There’s dozens of unsuspecting ways it can happen to you.

I’ve got my own story to tell on this one so here goes: My little boy Harry is approaching 8 months old. And he’s at a stage where he just wants to be on his feet and loves it when I hold his hands from above him so that he can walk “on his own”.

But problem is, I’m leaning over all the time while I’m doing it. Only been doing it for 7-10 days but I’m already feeling the effects of a very stiff back and it’s a warning sign to me that I’ve got to be careful of not what I do, but how I do it. I don’t want to deny Harry of his fun and “independence”, so his dad’s (me) got to find a new way of doing it, one that doesn’t add too much stress to my back. Something for you to think about too, as pound bets ten you’re doing many things each day that are causing things like a bad back to be inevitable.

l Here’s a picture of me and Harry at Summerhilll only a week or so ago. He loves the horses – but leaning over to stoke them isn’t good for his dad’s back either!