First Aid for Backs

Ever had that situation where you’ve done something small, like bend down to tie a shoelace, or lean over the sink to brush your teeth, and BAM! Your back goes into spasm, there’s a huge amount of pain, you feel like something’s going to snap, perhaps you even collapse on the floor…? It’s terrifying, isn’t it? But let me reassure you – although it feels serious, it’s not all that serious. Yes, it’s painful, and yes, it will take a few days to recover – but you will recover.

First Aid Steps

In the meantime, here’s a few things you can do.

·        Take the weight off. Lie down for a while – try and find a comfortable position. For most people, this will be lying on your side with either both knees bent up (foetal position) or one leg straight and one leg bent (recovery position).

·        Ice pack. Use a freezable gel-pack with a cover on, or a small bag of frozen peas wrapped in a damp tea-towel. Apply centrally in your low back for ten to fifteen minutes every hour.

·        Mobilise. Get your back gently moving. You can start this process lying on your back, knees bent and feet on the bed. Rock your pelvis back and forward so you’re flattening and exaggerating the arch in the small of your back. Go slowly and in a controlled fashion.

·        Once you can get up, mobilise in a standing position. Slowly rock your pelvis, as you were when lying down, or put your hands on your hips and turn your pelvis in circles (like slow-motion hula-hooping!)

·        A word about getting up from lying down – it can be troublesome, so try this method. Lie on your side as close to the edge of the bed as possible. Bend your knees, and get both hands on the bed near your shoulder level. Let your knees and lower legs move out over the edge of the bed, and in one motion, push up with your hands as your feet drop towards the floor. Imagine your body is a rod, pivoting about your hips. This gets you to a sitting position. Now get as close to the edge as possible so you’re perching, place your feet wide and tucked under you, and come up to standing by pushing up through your thighs and keeping your back straight. Try not to lean forward, but go straight up. There! You made it!

·        Get walking. Even if it’s only short distances. Walking is something our bodies are well-versed in, and this activity helps to return the system to normal – a bit like rebooting a computer.

·        Don’t worry. Back pain, though it can be severe, is rarely serious. Unless you start to develop symptoms of the extremely rare “cauda equina syndrome” (bowel or bladder problems, loss of sensation in the “saddle” area, and pain or weakness in the legs – these are symptoms that need dealing with quickly) then try to take things easy in the knowledge that it will get better!

·        When you’re able, get some treatment from an osteopath or therapist of your choice. They will be able to help alleviate the pain, give you some reassurance, and offer advice on steps you can take that will mean a future with a stronger, happier back!