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Top Tips To Avoid Back Pain

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Are you prone to the odd niggle, twinge or even complete flare up?  If yes, I am with you on that one.  I used to have a mint back, that could lug anything anywhere, but 10 years ago, me and my 4 legged friend reared over backwards onto concrete, breaking my back.  After a massive flare up, lots of scans, hideous drugs and nights of sleeping upright in an arm chair, a fortune on physio appointments, I decided enough was enough, and went back to the basics.  Don't get me wrong, I still have flare ups, as many of you know, but I have learnt a few valuable lessons along the way, helping me to keep the flare ups more contained, and allowing me to do pretty much anything I like.  As an area I am passionate about, I would love to share some of my top tips to avoid back pain

Core first
Your core is made up of all the muscles that run from the bottom of your rib cage down to your pelvis, front, sides and back, as well as including the muscles that run along side your spine.  They support your spine, and keep you stable.  Commonly, because of the nature of our lives, your back muscles are strong and regularly over used, with our deep front core muscles, being weaker, and under used.  So the first area you must grasp, is being able to fire up and use your transverse abdominals or TrA.  Check out this video to find out how

Pelvis next
Your hips and spine are linked, enabling up to move effectively and bend.  Our pelvis should be able to tilt forwards and backwards easily, without the rest of the body moving.  However, those prone to back pain may find they lock their pelvis, as they feel it keeps them strong and more stable in that area - it does quite the opposite, and places more load on the spine.  To check if you can more your pelvis easily, simply stand up, with your back away from the wall.  Now can you brush your bottom up and down the wall, keeping the rest of your body pressed against the wall?  If the answer is no, this is an area you need to work on  A simple exercise to help free up and move the pelvis is pelvis tilts, sitting on a chair or even better, on a swissball.  Once you have mastered those, check out rock backs here.

Strengthen your bum
If you know me, you know I do go on about glutes, and like to make you work them, hard.  Your glutes, or bottom muscles, are the power house in your body, and we should use them every day in most every day movements.  If they are weak however, it means we place our spine under more strain as we try to use other muscles to compensate.  If you look in the mirror at your bottom, side on, and it lacks shape, then strengthening it will help reduce your back pain.  check out this easy to follow, butt burning circuit

Posture
Your spine is 'S' shaped, and should have gentle slopes in it.  However if your slopes are more exaggerated, and you have a habit of rounding your shoulders, it means you are placing extra strain on the spine, as it becomes top heavy.  Simply learning how to set your shoulder correctly can help open out your chest, and relax the upper back.  To learn how to do that, check out this simple exercise.

Stretch
Now this is a biggy.  One that I am always caught out on.  You should try and keep a good ratio of stretching compared to working out.  So if like me, you work out a fair bit, you should stretch a fair bit.  If you sit down quite a lot, then you need to spend time stretching out those crunched up muscles.  Check out one of my older blogs that goes through my TV stretches

If you don't have any issues in the above areas, and still struggle with back pain, do not suffer in silence, go and see a professional for help, and I have 3 good physios locally that I highly recommend.  Or if you are not sure what areas you need to work on, just shout, and I will help highlight your key weaknesses.