Back advice guide

Jumping out of bed quickly, carrying heavy shopping bags or lifting fallen objects - just a few examples of the everyday actions that our backs have to endure hundreds of times over.

When everything is working as it should, we don't give our backs a second thought. It is only when problems occur that many people start to care about keeping their spines healthy. A few simple preventative tips can help to avoid permanent pain or damage and strengthen the back.

Prophylaxis

Even if back problems cannot be avoided in every case, pain can generally be prevented. The rule of thumb is as simple as it is effective: movement, movement and more movement.

Nothing strengthens the back more than a healthy and active lifestyle. Low-impact sports are better than high-impact sports, however. These include swimming, cycling and walking. Classical exercises from the back training classes can also encourage a strong posture, thereby relieving strain on tendons and discs. Relaxation training in the form of autogenic training, massages or progressive muscle relaxation can serve as a harmonious opposite.

As well as a lack of movement, being overweight can also contribute to back problems, and this issue in particular should not be under-estimated as a cause of back pain. Consequently, everyone should maintain a healthy and balanced diet in addition to exercise. It won’t just be your back that thanks you!

Back pain in the workplace

The working day often offers very little variety in terms of exercise and movement. To maintain a back-friendly posture at the desk, here are a few pointers:

A good office chair should support the lumbar spine and encourage a pleasant seating position. The upper section of the spine should be as straight as possible. The legs should be spread at hip width and under no circumstances should they be crossed.
The ideal distance of the monitor for the eyes is between 60 and 90 centimetres. The gaze should be straight at the screen without having to turn the head. Where the telephone is used frequently, do not jam the handset between the shoulder and the head as this posture can quickly lead to muscle tension and spasm.

As a rule of thumb, stay active and constantly stretch and extend the muscles to relax them. Stand up from time to time too.

Back pain during pregnancy

Pregnancy involves many parts of the woman's body. Physical changes, particularly in the second and third trimesters, can lead to muscle tension and pain, particularly in the back. The increase in weight shifts the body's centre of gravity, irritating muscles, ligaments and tendons.

Early training can help to compensate the new arrangements more effectively during pregnancy. Women who are not used to such training should merely carry out gentle exercises to relax. For sportier women, you can continue your preferred sport provided you do not over-exert yourself. Gentle forms of sport are particularly recommended.
Swimming, for example, strengthens the back, while the warm water relaxes the muscles and supports the body's weight. Yoga is another alternative, since it incorporates relaxing as well as strengthening elements.

Women with back pain should have the condition of their spines checked before they fall pregnant. MRI scans can be used to detect changes such as congenital or acquired changes, disc prolapses or spondylolisthesis, which may present a possible risk for pregnancy and the birthing process.

Back pain in children

Small children in particular rarely experience back pain. The reason for this is simple - activity. Running, climbing and racing around are part of everyday life for children, teaching them stamina, balance and helping their muscles to develop.

When school begins, their exercise patterns change. Many children however do not spend just their entire mornings sitting down, but also spend the afternoon doing nothing but watching TV or playing on the computer. Almost a third of all school children experience back pain at some time or another. In the majority of cases, the reason is muscular imbalance. Instances of disc degeneration are on the increase, and in rare cases discs can even prolapse.

Playing outdoors in the fresh air will encourage exercise and strengthen the muscles. Sport and classic children's games also encourage the child to be active and prevent damage to their posture. Conservative treatment is often the answer. Painkillers, such as Paracetamol, are rarely used. The use of minimally-invasive or microsurgical procedures is only considered in extreme exceptional cases.