Basics for keeping backs healthy is not always at the front of our minds
As I am writing this I have back pain. You would think I would be immune to this affliction that affects four out of five of us, having loosened and straightened out many hundreds of achy backs over the years, but no. Karma still owes me on that one.
Fortunately I can self diagnose and the main reason for my discomfort is my own doing. I am typing away at the dining table and perched on a dining chair that is barely adequate for seating me comfortably through to my pudding, let alone a cheeseboard.
The addition of a fish course is unheard of in this household and I blame the chairs. I should, and do know better.
I do, of course, have an office chair upstairs in the study, matched to a desk set at the correct ergonomic height and I will concede that this dining chair is nearer the kettle, but why have I chosen to give myself backache with this particularly uncomfortable seating arrangement?
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Well, the five minutes to check my e-mails has turned into over an hour of replying to them. And then there is my Ebay habit...
We all know at least some of the basics of how to keep our backs healthy; keep it straight and supported when you are seated, get up and move around as much as possible to mobilise, avoid having your lunch aldesko, that sort of thing.
All good advice, but as I have proved it is not always practical or at the forefront of our minds.
We wait for the pain to remind us and the damage is done (by the way, I am now correctly ergonomically installed in the study, with a slice of humble pie).
I would however recommend that you stretch. Stretching your muscles back to their original efficient working length should not be exclusively for athletes; arguably it is more important for those of us using our bodies through incorrect ranges of motion opposed to an athlete's perfect running form.
I do not have the space here for thorough instruction but there is plenty of advice out there. If you only do one thing make it the standing reach down hamstring stretch, as it is easy to learn and practical to do anywhere, therefore you are more likely to use it.
This one is effective for stretching the calf muscles, the hamstrings, one of the gluteus muscles and some of the back muscles that attach to the spine.
Stand with feet shoulder width apart, relax, chin to chest extend arms and allow your hands to run down the front of your legs.
Take it slowly to the point of slight discomfort, hold for 20 seconds, then breathe in and lower further on the exhale, again to the point of discomfort for 20 seconds.
Very slowly return to the upright posture and enjoy the slight head rush and a hint of smugness.
If you have tried this while continuing to read the paper and have now toppled over I apologise (usual disclaimers apply) but you hopefully get the gist.
National Back Care Awareness Week, October 7 to 11, is nearly upon us and it's bizarrely only five days. Let's see if we can stretch it out for a bit longer this year.
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