Reducing Back Pain: Exercise with the Tuffit
Reducing Back Pain By Heather Oakes, BSc PGCE PGDip
Back pain is the most common cause of daily discomfort with approximately 80% of people suffering at some point in their lifetime.
1. Warm up like a pro
How many people do you know who do relatively little weekly exercise, but then go at it full throttle when they want to see a quick change on the scales. Although it is great to take advantage of any sudden enthusiastic urges to workout, remember, if you want to see results, you need to train like a pro – which means you need to warm up, cool down and stretch like a pro too. Every Tuffit programme has compulsory Warm Up and Cool Down sections – Jenny’s programmes ensure that you’re doing all the right things to keep you safe and on track.
2. Think good posture thoughts
Many people don’t see DIY or gardening as a physical activity, and would go from their office job, to a hugely ambitious gardening or DIY task. This can pull on their back in all sorts of awkward ways. And let’s not forget the parents of small children out there – particularly mums who do a lot of carrying ‘on the hip’. Fit for Keeps’ very own Sarah Lambley has an on-going issue with her lower back from lifting and carrying small children for the best part of 6 years! Being aware of posture, even when you don’t think you need to be, is what makes the difference.
As a parent, it is impossible to avoid lifting and carrying your little ones, but remember to never bend and twist while carrying a child, as this increases the pressure placed on the disks in your back by 400% (*). If your disks cannot cope with this sudden pressure, this leads to a bulging, herniated or slipped disk, which can also lead to sciatica. Ouch! Protect yourself, and consider your posture when you pick up the car seat, try to carry it in front of you with both hands on the handle, have a rucksack as a changing bag rather than a single shoulder strap bag, think about your back as you place them in the car. Try to keep your posture as perfect as you can. Bend with caution. Twist if you need to. Try and avoid doing both at the same time with the additional weight of a child. It’s worth taking the time to prevent back pain. If you injure your back, who will look after your child then?
3. Sit tall
Whether you’re commuting or computing, how you sit affects your posture, which places stress on your back. When was the last time you saw anyone use public transport or drive with excellent posture? Or sit at an office desk without slouching? If you can make small changes to the way you sit, it will make a massive difference to your future back pain status.
Move more. Keeping moving is vital for back health. Here are some exercises on the Tuffit to help you strengthen your back and core. Remember to warm up, and stretch to keep yourself safe, and have fun – all warm up & stretch information can be found in the ‘Find Your Fit’ Guide or in any of the online programmes.
Using your CoreCurve with the narrow end towards your thighs, lie face down and engage your core. If you’re not sure how to do that, imagine your CoreCurve is really, really cold. It should feel as if you are holding your belly button in. Make sure you don’t hold your breath in. Keep that contraction and gently lift your upper body, keeping your eyes looking down. If you have current back pain, you can place your hands on the floor for support.
Seated Low Row
Start by engaging your core. If you are not sure what it should feel like here, imagine a camera crew have just burst into the room. Sit tall, draw in your core muscles and look your best! Again, make sure you don’t hold your breath, and check your posture often. Start with your arms outstretched, pull the handles in towards your waist while squeezing your shoulder blades together and thinking ‘good posture’ thoughts. Try not to hold tension in your neck.
Reverse Oblique Twist
Another CoreCurve cracker to strengthen your abs and the sides of your waist. To really help reduce back pain, make sure you engage your core. Start sitting up with your CoreCurve behind you. In this position, engaging your core will feel like you’re trying to squeeze into your tightest jeans. Don’t hold your breath though. Gently lean back to the position shown, keeping those tight jeans on. Your belly button will want to push out, but don’t let it. To strengthen your core, keep it in.
* Nachemson, A. L. 1981 Disk Pressure Measurements. Spine Vol6:1