- Drink water – or tea, squash, or whatever takes your fancy (except alcohol! And go easy on the caffeine and fizzy drinks!) Your whole body needs water – it fills each cell and facilitates body processes – and for your back in particular, it keeps the discs nice and fat and spongy. This allows your spine to move well and helps with shock-absorption. Think of your back as a bike chain that needs good lubrication to stop it seizing up.
- Move regularly – I’m not talking taking to the gym or sprinting out the door with your trainers on (though feel free to do those things too!). Just move; especially if you’re in a situation where you’re sitting a lot. Muscles that stay in one position learn to adopt that position, which means they can’t then lengthen fully when you need them to and they’ll hold your spine in a less-than-ideal posture. Get up frequently (every 15-20 minutes), stretch your back, walk up and down. If you’re drinking plenty of water, of course, you’re probably needing to visit the loo fairly often – you might find this irritating, but it’s a plus-point for your back if it keeps you moving!
- Do a little back-strengthening – the small muscles around the spine are really good at weakening and wasting if they’re not used enough. Keep them in tip-top shape with some gentle exercise – try yoga or Pilates, or ask your personal trainer or therapist for advice on some easy home-exercises.
- Walk more – this is good in so many ways. Not just for general fitness, circulation and muscle toning; but the motion of walking is deeply programmed into our systems, and reinforcing that loop between brain and body helps maintain good function and balance as we get older.
- Look after your pelvic floor – sounds crazy, I know! But that muscular sling at the base of the pelvis is in constant dialogue with the back and abdominal muscles. If it gets weak, your fine motor control of the whole area diminishes, putting you at higher risk of back pain. This is not only for women – it’s just as important for men too! Do “squeeze” exercises to tone the pelvic floor muscles – there’s a link below.
Simple, eh? But these small steps will pay dividends in keeping back pain at bay and keeping you functioning better for longer.
Pelvic floor exercises – NHS