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Back Pain | Your Health & Fitness TREATMENT Think before you liſt :


Heavy lifting is one of the main triggers for back strain. Therefore, before


embarking on any heavy lifting, it is worth considering how you are going to lift the item safely and whether it is manageable alone. When lifting, ensure that you get a good grip and bend the knees and hips as well as the back. Bending the back too far, straightening the legs too early and twisting the body rather than your feet to change direction during a lift can all put pressure on the back and cause a strain.


Sleep right: Although some people


feel a soft mattress is more comfortable, it is important to make sure your mattress is fi rm enough to support the weight of your shoulders and buttocks, keeping the spine straight as you sleep. Your head should be supported by a pillow but not forced up at an angle. Mattresses designed to provide this support are available for people who are particularly concerned about backache.


Drive healthily:


Driving for long periods of time in the wrong position can lead to back strain. Here are a few easy ways to avoid this. Firstly, make sure your leg is bent slightly when you press the pedal, with the depth of the seat allowing for a three-fi nger gap between the seat’s edge and the back of the knee. Secondly, your shoulders should be touching the backrest at all times with your spine supported all the way (from your shoulders to the base) by the seat back. This is usually impossible to maintain (unless you have great inner core muscles) because of gravity, which literally shakes you down in the seat. A way to overcome is to fi t a device which uses the lap section of the seatbelt to help you keep sat up properly. If you still feel like you are not getting enough lumbar support from your car seat a rolled up t-shirt can help keep that healthy S shape in your lower back. Lastly, it is important to take regular breaks and stretch your back, arms and legs. Try to plan these into your journey and you’ll really notice the diff erence.


If you already suffer from back pain, there are several things you can do to ease discomfort. Contrary to advice given in the past, doctors now believe that moderate exercises such as walking, swimming and yoga can greatly improve recovery time. Taking painkillers can reduce severe pain, and compression packs or pain relief gels can be purchased from your local pharmacy. Your GP can also prescribe you a muscle relaxant such as diazepam if you are experiencing muscle spasms. In chronic cases of back pain, specifi c exercises and therapies, acupuncture and in severe circumstances, surgery may be advised.


Many sufferers of chronic


back pain have also had c success using The Alexander Technique. Developed in the 19th century by Frederick Alexander, the technique teaches people to make small changes to their movements and posture, ‘undoing’ the everyday habits that put unnecessary strain on the back and joints. Your GP will be able to provide further information about all of these treatment options.


SHOFT is a deformable cover that slips over your existing car seatbelt tongue in two seconds. This device not only improves the look and feel of the seatbelt tongue, but also helps ensure the lapbelt stays in the optimal position for safety and comfort. Designed by back specialists and ergonomics experts SHOFT helps you drive every mile the way RoSPA recommend—’with no slack in the seatbelt’.


46 DEAR DOCTOR WITH DR CHRIS STEELE celebrityangels.co.uk


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