Back pain: A long term project

Here’s a post from our Fit School pages, written by Fit School co-director Chris Laing.

Most people will experience back pain in their lives. It can vary from an ache, to full on debilitating agony. Long term pain of any kind can lead to depression and many people feel their lives are adversely affected by back pain.

According to the British Pain Society, around 10 million people in the UK suffer from back pain on a daily basis which affects their lives. And this can be expensive to UK businesses, with the TUC reporting that British businesses lose an estimated 4.9 million days a year due to employee absenteeism due to work related back pain. It’s a big deal!

Known factors that cause back pain are bad posture both sitting and lying down; lifting something incorrectly; and general stiffness and tightness in the muscles above and below the painful site (however it can be as far away as your big toe). There are also many unknown factors that can cause back pain, it isn’t an exact science.

It can be a terrifying thing to experience, but you mustn’t lose hope when it comes to pain management. Once you experience pain, you need come terms with it. This is the hardest thing. You need to accecpt that it is a part of you and will be for some time. Until you get to this point, you will be constantly looking for that one good crack or stretch to sort it out. Quick fixes rarely work with back pain.

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Here is our guide to back pain management:

Any back pain requires a long-term management programme. Take it on a month by month basis and see if things are improving.

Get your situation assessed by a professional. Only they will have an idea about what could be causing the pain and how to manage it better.

Assess everything that could be contributing to your pain and do what you can to manage it.  The main culprits are: posture; your driving position; your sitting postion; your working position (maybe get stand up desk); and your sleeping position.

You need to put aside some money to pay for treatments or ergonomic aids to assist with the pain. You might eventually want to get a new bed to help with the pain. A good mattress doesn’t cost the earth but it isn’t cheap either.

Know and understand which exercises to do on a regular basis. Having a few physiotherapy sessions will not solve your back issues. People often stop doing their exercises once the pain has stopped. If you stop feeling pain, the issue isn’t fixed. You just don’t feel the pain anymore and it can come back at any time.

Let go of what you think you should or shouldn’t be doing. I used to scoff at people doing Pilates or Yoga. However, since experiencing back pain, I incorporate Pilates exercises into my daily routine. One thing that your back needs is regular movement. This is why Pilates and yoga are a great way to help manage back pain. However, you need to ensure that you address other factors too.

We often get asked questions about this, so we are creating a daily exercise routine to help people who are mainly sedentary but experience back pain. It will help manage back pain better and stop back pain ruining your life. If you are interested, get in touch and we’ll contact you when the programme is up and running. Ignoring back pain, taking pain killers or resting it for a bit is not the answer. Nor is doing bootcamps (this is another topic for another day)! So before you try any of these, try addressing some of the factors we have mentioned above.

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ABOUT FIT SCHOOL:
Fit School is run by Chris and Karen Laing. Chris has been Personal Training since 2002. He re-trained after he completed his degree in Business Studies as he was fascinated with the human body and how your health is affected by diet. 

Chris was always fascinated with body transformations and fat loss and was about to learn more about it as In 2008, he was hired to train and present a celebrity fitness DVD for Claire Richards. Claire was also getting married so he had 3 jobs in one! 

For years, Chris and Karen were saying that gyms need to focus on creating programmes for people that deliver results, but gyms weren’t interested. Chris and Karen came up with Fit School, a system for people to get results through group exercise programmes which isn’t gym centred.
Fit School creates a structure for people, where they only need to turn up and enjoy themselves.

Karen co-directs Fit School with her husband Chris. They run fitness classes, ladies only training camps and Pilates classes in Epping and Essex.
TWITTER: @fitschoolessex
FACEBOOK: ccfitschool
WEBSITE: http://www.alittlefitter.com

Is your baby positioned for an easy exit?

Optimal baby positioning. Doesn’t sound sexy does it? But when it comes to giving birth, the position your baby starts in can make the difference between a speedy 3 hour home birth or a C-section.

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The optimum position for a baby before delivery is Left Occiput Anterior (LOA) which means head is down, baby’s spine is outwards (towards mummy’s navel) and baby’s back and body are on the left side of mum. In this position baby can apply pressure to the cervix, which helps stimulate contractions and with its chin tucked in, has the easiest exit through mum’s pelvis and the birth canal.

What can go wrong?

Baby’s can get themselves into tight spots. Breech (bum down), tranverse (lying across mum’s abdomen) or back to back, where baby is lying spine to spine can all cause issues when it comes to delivery.

What can mum do?

During pregnancy consider the following:

Stay active … it’s thought that a sedentary, seated lifestyle is one of the leading contributory factors to the increased number of back to back presentations before labour.

Avoid sitting for long periods in comfy chairs or long car journeys, especially after week 35. Aim to have your hips higher than your knees, or sit on a high and firm chair.

Classes like Pilates and Yoga where instructors know tricks for getting your baby into position for birth are fantastic. Especially if you have a stubborn baby who doesn’t seem to want to move.

Lie on your left side in bed. This is not only the best position for your circulation but also to encourage baby’s body to the left. If you put a chunky pillow between your legs you can also get your tummy facing left and downwards to further encourage baby to move.

What if baby is not in LOA presentation?

Even if your baby has got themselves into a less than optimal position, there is still lots mum can do to fix it.

Don’t panic! I’ve known babies to move after a class or even immediately before a planned C-section, enabling mum to deliver naturally. Sometimes babies leave it until the last moment to get themselves ready for the exit.

Work with gravity … baby’s head and body are its heaviest components. Use gravity to encourage baby towards an LOA position. Consider swimming, getting on all fours or any forward posture where your hips are higher than your knees. I often get my participants to get on all fours and gently swing hips from side to side or in circles, this is nice on the back and also great for gentle pelvis mobility.

Karen Laing is a pre and post natal exercise specialist and journalist. Karen teaches Pilates (including pregnancy specific classes) in Epping, Essex and London and blogs about fitness, women’s health and wellbeing at http://www.alittlefitter.com.
Karen co-directs Fit School with her husband Chris. They run fitness classes, ladies only training camps and Pilates classes in Epping and Essex.
TWITTER: @fitschoolessex
FACEBOOK: ccfitschool
WEBSITE: http://www.alittlefitter.com