Herbfacts
A black and white picture of a man's back with the spine and lower back highlighted red to represent back pain

Back to basics: how to take care of your back

Back Care Awareness Week happens in October each year, but year round taking care of our backs is essential for long term strength and flexibility.

Medical herbalist Gabriella Clarke shares her top back care tips. 

An astounding 80% of us will suffer back problems at some stage in life. Injuries can occur at any age and our early lifestyles can determine the probability of any problems that may occur in later life. Back pain can significantly affect our quality of life but with a few protective measures we can help reduce the risk of it in the future.

HERBAL HELP

There are some wonderful herbs that have great anti-inflammatory actions that will help reduce pain and inflammation. Great choices include devils claw, turmeric, ginger, white willow bark and frankincense.  Supplements such as glucosamine and chondroitin can also help maintain the integrity of our joints and reduce further damage.

MASSAGE

Many of us don’t realise that regular back and neck massage can help ease muscle tension as well as maintain the health of our backs and reduce the severity of any injury. Even if you don’t currently have a back problem it is a good idea to visit a chiropractor or osteopath a couple of times a year to help iron out any potential issues.

SITTING MATTERS

In today’s world, many of us spend our working days sitting behind a desk only to come home after a long day to slouch into the comfort of our favourite armchair or sofa. But how many of us are mindful about how we sit and how it can affect our posture and back health?

Sitting hunched at a desk all day can cause tension and pain, especially if our chairs and computer screens aren’t positioned correctly.  This problem can be exacerbated by environmental factors such as air conditioning blasting down onto our shoulders and necks.

Instead of sending an email to your colleague in the office across the hall, get up from your desk and walk over to talk to them. Regular breaks and stretching can help prevent problems down the line.

BE POSTURE PERFECT

Stand straight, chest up, shoulders back is the message here.  Maintaining a good posture throughout life can prevent myriad problems. Bad posture in childhood can lead to problems in adulthood so teaching our little ones good posture early on will help install good habits for life.

LIFTING AND HANDLING

Those of us who do physical work are often more aware of the potential injuries that can be sustained in the work place. The rest of us don’t really give it much thought, but even carrying your toddler around can result in injury so always lift with care and remember if an item is very heavy don’t attempt to lift it. Never be afraid to seek assistance from a friend or colleague. When lifting, always bend from the hip or the knees, never the back.

HEAVY HANDBAGS

Do you really need to carry the kitchen sink around with you all day? Go through your bag and ensure you are only carring items that are absolutely necessary. If your bag is still too heavy you might want to consider using a backpack to take the strain off your shoulders.