We’ve all been there - that time when a New Year is around the corner and after a month of eating too much, and maybe not exercising enough like we should, we make a pact to be more active and healthy by the time January comes around.
Which is great!
I love nothing more than when people want to make a positive change to their lifestyle but the thing is, sometimes “damage-control” and extra activity can lead to unwanted aches that last for days, which can even result in back pain - especially when we do too much, too soon.
Which is exactly what happened to this lady who visited my clinic last week.
She told me: “I’ve never been a very active person, but at the start of January I made a few changes in my lifestyle because I know I’ve got to lose weight,
“So I’ve been exercising for 30 minutes each day, but just over a week ago I must have moved in a funny way and I felt my back just ‘go’.
“And now because of my back pain, I have been unable to do any exercise whatsoever for over a week now, and as a result I’m scared I won’t continue to lose weight and instead put more on!
“I visited the GP and all he told me to do was rest, but there must be another solution?
“I don’t want February to go by and I’m back to my old ways. Can you help?” – Hayley, 57, Crimdon.
Let me start by saying yes, I definitely can help.
This really isn’t uncommon. Back pain is one of the most common injuries we see here at the clinic, and did you know one of the most common causes of it around this time of year?
It’s simply down to doing too much, too soon.
Now, it’s not your fault; being more active makes you feel good about yourself, and in the long run, will lower your risk of getting back pain and other injuries too.
But for someone who isn’t so used to being active, the initial aches and pains you feel the day after, mean you need to rest OR do something different.
Take a gentle walk, or use something of low-impact like the cross-trainer in the gym.
This way you’re less likely to feel that unexpected twinge in your back that can end up putting you out for days, if not weeks!
And even though the GP is right, that you need to rest your back, one of the worst things you can do with back pain is to rest too much and do nothing at all.
Too much rest will only end up making things worse in the long run, and when you get back to doing the activities you want to do, there’s a good chance the pain will come back and strike again!
So what can you do when you have a bad so bad that it’s stopping you from doing what you want? Strengthen it!
Our backs aren’t made to sit for long periods of time, so taking part in regular posture style exercises to increase your muscle control.
Using Pilates routines mixed with Yoga style exercises, will help make your muscles and joints more flexible.
Meaning when you do go back to doing activities like swimming, running, gym classes etc, you’ll have a strong back protecting you from things back pain!
So the advice I would give is this, instead of staying in, resting for hours and not doing much at all, take up a Pilates class to start strengthening your muscles to ease the pain, (and keep you away from the GP too!).
A few months of this type of exercise, and you’ll be feeling great.