Some older people suffer in silence with back pain, (some not so silent!) but the common point is that a lot of older people do suffer. They don’t need to.
People say things like, “I have a little back pain every now and then, but I am getting on now. It’s to be expected.” – No!
It is of course true to say that the older we get, the thinner our muscles get. But this isn’t something we have to live with; we can build and maintain their strength again with a few simple rules to living well.
Rule 1) When you’re sitting or standing, remember not to slouch. Remain as upright as possible because, if you lean to one side, you put pressure on the disks in your back. This is a major cause of back pain.
Rule 2) Always make sure any work surface, whether standing or sitting, is the right height for you. Chopping veg in the kitchen, working on your computer, eating your dinner… your elbows should ideally be at a right angle and, if seated, you should use armrests. Shoulders back and down helps with posture.
Rule 3) Don’t stay in any position for too long as we tend to ‘seize up’. Our joints and muscles stiffen and make movement uncomfortable. Keep the muscles warm and flexible by changing position and walking round at intervals.
Rule 4) Don’t try to lift objects that are too heavy for you… that includes people! Lifting children or grandchildren who are getting a bit big, is a very common mistake in many families.
Rule 5) Maintain a good and proper diet – more healthy, less weight, better back. And when you look good, you tend to feel good too!
Rule 6) If you suffer from a bad back and you’re a smoker – my advice is to quit. Smoking reduces blood flow to the lower spine and causes spinal disks to degenerate.
All of the above are just nice and easy ways to help reduce pain in your back on a daily basis.
On top of that, there are exercises you can do for extra strength, extra stability and extra comfort.
Next time, I’ll chat you through some of the simplest exercises that can be done anywhere, anytime.