Valuable Tips to Strengthen your back and prevent injuries

strengthen your back

Our osteopath Chris Blackburne and functional trainer John Maitland break down a few valuable notes and exercises to help strengthen your back and prevent injuries.

From working with people from different backgrounds, jobs and injuries – we’ve learned that we can all experience back pain at some point, whether that’s lower back, shoulders or neck it can be frustrating, especially if it stops us from living our day-to-day lives. Here at SF Studios, we aim to educate our clients and not only help them with the recovery process but also the prevention of injuries.

Here are a few good tips to know when it comes to back pain

prevent injuries
  1. Quality rest and recovery
    We all know that the best way to fend off aches and pains is through appropriate exercise and stretching. In adjunction, appropriate rest and recovery are essential for a healthy back too, however, if your sofa and/or mattress are unsupportive then the muscles/joints/ligaments won’t get a chance to fully rest. If you experience pain when getting up from your sofa (after a period of time of sitting on it) then chances are it’s not giving you optimal support. The same applies to getting out of bed. If you find that you go to sleep pain-free but wake up with back pain then chances are that your mattress is not giving you adequate support. Personally, I like memory foam mattresses as they offer the right amount of comfort and support. For others, it may be different. My tip would be to trust your body. If you’re waking up pain-free then that’s a good sign, on the other hand, if you’re waking up stiff then it may be time to change that mattress.
  2. Correct Diet
    Did you know that lower back pain can be affected by poor food choices? Certain foods can cause inflammation in our bodies which in turn can heighten aches and pains in our joints. Keeping a food diary is a useful tool as it can help identify the foods that may be causing spikes in pain and inflammation. It might also be worth speaking to an osteopath and discussing any possible adjustments in your diet.
  3. Hydration
    Correct hydration and adequate electrolyte balance help reduce lower back pain and muscle spasms. In contrast, constant dehydration can cause a reduction in elasticity and damage to the outer layer of the vertebrae discs (your spine) so keep hydrated! 2 – 3 litres of water a day is what’s recommended as an essential for an average adult to keep healthy and hydrated, depending on their movement and health patterns. It’s good to note that sometimes feeling of tired and/or hungry might mean dehydration!

Here are 5 great exercises for anyone to do at home (or in the office, space permitting) recommended by our team.

  1. Lying knee drop
    Lay down on your back, hands to the sides, knees and heels together. Heels and knees stay stuck together – knees come to the chest and as we exhale, drop over to one elbow – in this position, breathe and relax. As you go to move, take a breath in and as you exhale, move the knees to the other side. You can put your hand on the knees to keep you in the position, however, always remember to relax and breathe.
  2. Thoracic foam rolling
    Sit on the floor, place the foam roller horizontally about mid-way up on your back, then place your hands by your neck, take a deep breath in and as you exhale think of moulding your back backwards onto the foam roller. We are aiming to get our heads to the floor, however, if that’s too difficult, don’t worry you can hover and most importantly try to relax. After a while take a deep breath in and as you exhale, roll back up. We are going to adjust the position of the foam roller up or down the spine and repeat.
  3. Prone overhead press
    Begin by lying on your front. The first thing you would need to do is contract your glutes, push the hips into the floor and contract your stomach. Pull the ribs down to your hips. Hands are by your shoulders. We are lifting the chest off the floor by about 1-2 cm, maintaining glutes and core contraction. Hands off the floor, we are going to reach forward whilst keeping the head neutral – stay there for a few seconds and retreat. Repeat a few times whilst maintaining core and glute contraction. If you feel your lower back pinching, you are doing it wrong.
  4. Downward dog / Child’s pose
    1. Downward Dog: We are going to start on our hands and knees and press the heels into the floor, we aim to straighten our knees but not all the way and lift our hips up into the sky. The chest is going to stretch down towards the feet. We are aiming for a nice straight line through your back into your hips. Once you get into the correct position you can then try straightening those knees.
    2. Child’s Pose: Begin on your hands and knees but this time sit your bottom back down onto your heels and try to get your head down to your knees. You can keep your hands in front for a bit of stretch or take your hands to the sides to focus that stretch on your lower back.
  5. Plank
    We are going to start on your elbows and your feet. Straighten your legs, get your knees off the floor – squeeze your feet and knees together. Pull your kneecaps up by contracting your thighs. Squeeze your glutes as hard as you can, pull your belly button into your spine and hold. Keep your hands away.

It’s an active exercise – holding whilst contracting everything. No relaxation here only active hold. Hold this exercise for as long as you can and aim to improve every time you perform it.

quality rest and recovery

If you have any ACUTE back pain, here is another great tip for you: try using an ice pack (wrapped in a tea towel) on the area of pain for 10-15mins. Cold has natural anaesthetic qualities and can give temporary pain relief. Using a hot water bottle or heat pack often feels comforting but risks drawing in too much heat which can increase pain levels in an already inflamed area.

Remember, if you feel something is not right or you cannot do the exercises above without pain or extreme discomfort, it might be great to seek some help. All of our team members are experts in the field and will be more than happy to assist you. You can use our contact button to book or find out more information.

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