Back pain is not only agonising for sufferers everywhere, but is one of the UK's biggest reasons for work absences. Increasingly sedentary lifestyles, poor posture and overdoing it in the gym are all causes of back pain, but there are ways to prevent or treat it before it turns into a serious problem.
Perfect your posture
If your work requires you to spend hours at a computer, you will be no stranger to a tight, aching or strain back, and so fixing your poor posture is a must. Instead of arching your back and pulling your shoulders back, as many of us do, stand up, put your feet shoulder width apart, tense your tummy and push your hips back as you lower into your seat. This will let your mind and body know how your spine should be supported when you're stuck in the office chair.
If your job is more physical but requires repetitive actions that put a strain on your back, visit the NHS Choices website to get advice on the proper way to lift, stand, sit, and even lie down, to ensure you're not doing yourself damage.
Exercise such as Pilates and yoga strengthen your core muscles and improve flexibility, both of which will help to support your spine properly and you'll find your posture improves without having to think so hard about it. Both forms of exercise have been found to ease back pain when practised weekly so if you have a tendency towards this kind of suffering, join a local class.
Roll yourself loose
For those who regularly feel tightness and knots in their backs, a foam roller is an affordable and quick fix solution. Available from as little as £10, you can work out the kinks by setting the roller on the floor and simply using your body weight to massage your back until you feel looser. These kinds of fitness rollers also promote a stronger core, which will aid in strengthening the back muscles, thus helping to prevent further problems.
Hot and cold
In the event that you do yourself an injury in the back department, treating with heat and cold can speed up the heeling process. Try applying an ice pack for five minutes, then removing it for five minutes, repeating the process for up to half an hour. This encourages the body to increase blood flow to the pain-affected area, which will promote healing. The following day, try the same process with a heating pad to relax the muscles.
The first advice most doctors now give to back pain sufferers is to keep active and continue with their daily tasks. While bedrest used to be recommended, it is now generally agreed that it can actually worsen back pain. Pulled muscles and pains need to recover, of course, but doing nothing will only make them weaker and ultimately make you more prone to injury, so try to carry on, without overdoing it, as best as possible. If, however, your pain doesn't begin to ease within two days, it's time to see your GP.
Do you suffer with back problems? What do you do to ease the pain? Leave your comments below...