Why Exercise is Vital for a Healthy Back

Staying active and taking part in regular exercise is crucial for a healthy spine, and the symptoms of chronic back pain can usually be mitigated with physical activity. It’s understandable that some sports and activities involve risk, and it is possible to suffer a sprained muscle or hurt the back with too much physical exercise – but a back injury is not the same as ongoing back pain. You can recover from a pulled muscle in the back caused by playing sports, yet chronic back pain is difficult to treat.

This is why even if you suffer from back pain, you should still take part in physical exercise. Keeping the back mobile is vital for spine health, and will stop the back muscles losing their strength. People often self-medicate a bad back with bed rest but this is in fact the opposite of what health professionals now recommend. Sitting down too much and inactivity can cause lower back pain or make it worse.

If you have a tense, stiff or sore back, you should complete an exercise regime which aims to mobilise and strengthen the spine and the muscles. Every case of back pain is different and you should speak to a doctor and physiotherapist about the best exercises and stretches to do to help ease the pain. However, in general, these physical activities are recommended to prevent and treat back pain.

Swimming and other water activities

Swimming is a low impact exercise, which means it’s easy on the joints. Doing some lengths in a swimming pool a couple of times a week can keep the back mobile. However, if you prefer to swim with your head out of the water this can sometimes cause neck or back issues. In this case, try water aerobics or another water based activity.

Walking

Going for a brisk walk, even if it’s just round the block can help to keep your back mobile. From walking the dog to walking to the bus stop, short but regular walks can boost energy and keep you active.

Cycling

Tell back pain to “Get on yer bike!” Cycling is a gentle activity which can be enjoyed by all ages. Always wear a helmet and stay safe on the roads – you may wish to stick to woodland cycle paths. Going for a leisurely bike ride can do wonders for your back.

Yoga

Many chronic back pain sufferers recommend yoga for easing pain. The series of stretching, poses and breathing exercises helps to improve mobility and flexibility, and is reported to be more effective than painkillers and back exercises according to The Daily Mail.

Staying active is key to easing the symptoms and improving your condition.

Top Myths About Back Cracking and Other Joints

Sometimes our bodies make strange noises, from a gurgling tummy to popping joints and bones. Many people are able to purposely crack their joints, with the most common being the knuckles, neck and back. Back cracking and clicking of the joints can be alarming whether it’s deliberate or not, and the rumour is that it can even cause arthritis.

Before we debunk the myths about back cracking and joint clicking, let’s find out what’s actually happening when we move the joint and hear a crack.

Why do our joints crack?

It took decades for researchers to figure out what’s happening inside our bodies when our joints crack. Some people feel the need to crack joints, and experience relief once they have ‘popped.’ When muscle joints are pulled apart, the pressure is reduced and small bubbles of gas are released from the joint fluid. It’s almost like creating a vacuum within the joint, which makes a popping noise as it collapses.

The gas takes a while to dissolve in the joint fluid, which is why when joints are cracked they can’t be re-cracked straight away. It’s also been found that joints temporarily increase the range of motion after they have been cracked, thanks to lowering the pressure.

Myth Number 1: Knuckle cracking causes arthritis in the hands

This is an old wives’ tale that has been passed around for decades, however there is no evidence to support it. People are often grossed out by knuckle cracking, but studies have proven that it doesn’t cause long term damage or arthritis – and could actually be good for you. It’s strange that this common belief only applies to the knuckles, as plenty of other joints get cracked regularly including knees, hips, toes and the spine.

Myth Number 2: Back cracking is painful

The cracking that occurs in the back is the same as the joint cracking in the hands, and any knuckle cracker will tell you that it’s painless and actually brings relief. Professional spine adjustments by a chiropractor may look and sound painful, but they do not cause any immediate pain in the affected joint.

Myth Number 3: Only old people get joint pain

It is definitely widely perceived that you only suffer from joint pain as a part of ageing. While many people do develop arthritis and aches and pains as they grow older, joint pain, back pain and arthritis can actually occur at any age.

If you feel like you need your back cracking, find out about professional spinal adjustments at Canary Wharf Chiropractic.

Does Back Pain get Worse in Winter?

Many people who suffer from chronic pain in the spine will report the symptoms getting worse as the weather gets colder. Similarly, people who don’t have regular back pain may also experience some aches and pains in their neck, upper back or lower back during the winter months. Sciatica sufferers also seem to experience symptoms at this time of year. Why is it that pain seems to increase as the temperature drops?

There is no proven link between sudden lower back pain and changes in the weather, including cold temperatures, humid conditions, wind and rain. However many studies have been carried out across the world to try and find a medical reason as to why more people suffer musculoskeletal pain during cold weather.

With the UK facing a back pain epidemic and bracing for a cold winter, we need to understand why symptoms can suddenly appear or become worse. Here’s why your back or neck pain may get worse in winter.

Tight and tense muscles

When we are exposed to really cold temperatures, our muscles tense up. The spine’s muscles may become tight and tense for a long period of time, which can result in back pain further down the line. Tension in the back can also increase the risk of a muscle sprain, which will also cause short term pain.

Extra stress

It’s also possible that the challenges winter brings could put extra stress on the back muscles, and increase the injury risk. Shovelling snow, pushing trapped vehicles, falling on ice or slush and carrying around Christmas trees can leave you pulling, twisting or damaging your back. Sometimes, the mental stress of the holiday season can also cause tension in the body.

Inactivity

You’ve probably heard doctors, physiotherapists and chiropractors say that the best way to relieve back pain is by staying active. When we sit still for long periods of time, muscles stiffen up so it’s really important to keep moving and stretch back muscles often. However, during the winter’s cold, dark days, exercise is the last thing you feel like doing. It can be tough braving the cold weather and the short gloomy days make you want to stay in bed for longer. This decline in physical activity in winter can trigger back pain.

Many people do experience back pain symptoms at this time of year, but there are ways to prevent it. Wrapping up warm every time you go outside and staying as active as possible is a good formula. If you’re suffering with lower back pain or neck pain, visit a chiropractor for some manual therapy and expert advice.