Seven ways to reduce back pain

Aqilah Rahman

Back pain has become a prevalent problem across the world. For some, it’s a slight nuisance that hinders everyday activities; for others, it’s a much bigger problem that requires medical attention.

If you’re suffering from back pain, there are some simple steps that can be taken to reduce the pain.

Here are seven ways to reduce backache, according to Fu Ton, a British-trained physiotherapist and founder of Miniphysio.

Exercise More

Exercise does not mean hitting the gym or going for a run. It simply means “to move with intention”, and this can be done at home.

“I know it sounds counterintuitive to a lot of people,” said Fu.

Many of his clients have the misconception to move less when suffering from a back pain. But according to it, the strategy isn’t ideal.

“That’s the biggest myth of all time. I encourage movement. But make sure to do it in a safe manner,” he said, adding that some people may need to consult professionals for guidance.

The recommended exercise regimen is tailored to each individual, depending on the desired movement.

“What a young athlete needs is vastly differently from what a 50-year-old father does,” Fu said. “Different people, different needs.”

Avoid sitting still for more than 30 minutes

A lot of us, especially those with office jobs, spend most of our time sitting in front of a computer.

Staying stationary for too long – even if you’re sitting upright in the best posture – is likely to cause muscle ache or stiffness in the joints.

As a countermeasure, Fu suggested moving every 30 minutes.

It will promote general body circulation, allowing blood that carries oxygen to supply to all parts of the body, he added.

Check your mattress

If your mattress is too soft or isn’t as firm as it used to be, your body receives less support, which affects your spine alignment. Because of this, some people wake up with a stiff back. If the circulation is also affected, you may feel a tingling, numbing sensation in your legs.

So how do you know if the mattress is right for you?

As a rule of thumb, Fu recommended a comfortable mattress that provides adequate support for the body. If the mattress doesn’t cause much of a problem in following day, then the mattress has done its part.

Reduce one-side-favouring activities

Most of us have the tendency to lean on one side whether we’re sitting or lying down. While this is natural, over-favouring one side can cause muscle imbalance and joint stiffness.

To combat this problem, Fu recommended moving more instead of staying in one position for a long time.

“If you’re a fidgeter, keep fidgeting,” said Fu, “because movement is what your body needs.”

Do your workout right

Have you ever seen those workout videos that encourage the correct form of exercising? It’s important to pay attention to the posture when you work out to keep injuries at bay.

If there’s a new workout or sport you would like to explore, consider getting a personal trainer. It will prevent injuries and ensure you’re doing it efficiently, instead of just winging it.

Avoid heels

According to Fu, a significant number of his female clients wear heels on a regular basis.

When we wear heels, our body exerts more pressure on the feet. As a result, our muscles have to work extra hard to hold our body position properly. Aside from back pain, this may cause knee and hip problems in the long run.

Fu recommended wearing comfortable sneakers or flats, and to avoid wearing high heels for a long time. Alternatively, he said, limit the height of the heels or use those with bigger base to provide more support.

See a physiotherapist

If the backache persists even after following the above tips, then it’s best to seek professional help. Depending on your medical history and health conditions, you may have different needs and require a different approach.

It may be tempting to just search for answers on the Internet, but Fu warned against doing so.

With so much information online, most people have trouble figuring out what’s best for them. Some may heed the wrong advice and make the issue worse. Thus, it’s best to consult a professional for proper guidance.

The next step

Most of the tips above are very simple and easy to follow. Some of you may be wondering, “If I start doing any of these without seeing a physiotherapist, when can I see results? A day? Weeks? Months?”

The short answer, according to Fu, is: “It depends.”

He continued, “It depends on how severe your back pain is, how long this back pain has been bothering you, and whether you have done something about it before or never at all. Are you seeking treatment? Have you taken appropriate steps needed to recover properly? All these matter.”

With so many factors to consider, Fu said it is necessary for physiotherapists to know an individual’s background and history to better aid his or her recovery.