Health Related Fitness

By Sally Ann Quirke | Filed under: Fitness and Back Pain

What to think about health related fitness

A simple example of this came through my door recently. He was a young man who ran about twenty miles a week and his lower back was beginning to give him pain. After a detailed assessment, we realised that he NEVER stretched his muscles over the years he had been running. This was the main cause of his lower back pain. If he had stretched more regularly his back pain may not have occurred.

The message is simple. You must address all aspects of fitness in order to be truly fit! Strength, flexibility, diet and posture are some of the important aspects of fitness required to prevent back and neck pain. All back pain patients that I see have various degrees of muscle imbalance. This is where some of the muscles in your body are weak and others too tight. Weak muscles can alone be the reason for your back and neck pain. Commonly, your stomach muscles will be weak if you have lower back pain. To get rid of your back pain forever you would need to strengthen your stomach muscles, and stretch your tight muscles. Then, with professional guidance, you need to embark on your overall fitness programme.

So you might ask what is the ideal fitness programme for the prevention of neck and back pain? Of course, there is no one answer. Here are some components of a fitness programme that I share with my own clients:

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  • Stretching: Where you stretch your muscles in a specific way. If muscles are not stretched regularly they will tighten up. Tight muscles often lead to back or neck pain. Tight muscles may pull on an area of your spine. This pulling may eventually result in bones and tissues in your neck and back becoming strained and inflamed. The end result is pain! Use back stretching exercises on a regular basis.

  • Pilates: Is a wonderful programme to prevent back and neck pain. I teach Pilates in my physiotherapy practice for the past ten years. I encourage my back pain patients to attend Pilates once their pain has been resolved through mobilisation. Pilates, taught correctly, frequently prevents any re-occurrence of back pain symptoms. It also empowers you and provides you with exercises to perform at home without having to go to your physiotherapist!
    I had a very painful back some years ago and after many physiotherapy sessions I had improved greatly. However, Pilates was the key to my back pain treatment. I continue to do Pilates almost daily and have never had any re-occurrence of my symptoms! Thank you Pilates!!

  • Yoga: Can be very helpful in the prevention of back and neck pain. Like Pilates, it must be taught and performed correctly in order to achieve the desired result for your pain. Yoga improves body awareness and flexibility. If this is the underlying cause of your back or neck pain it would be a good programme for you to embark on. Seek advice on the correct type of yoga for your back pain from a chartered physiotherapist.

  • Physiotherapy: Is used to treat back and neck pain. If you have pain - then the source of your pain must be addressed and treated. Removing the cause is the key to the resolution of your pain. A chartered physiotherapist will assess your back and neck and explain your problem to you. Then your therapist will mobilise your spine into a good position and loosen your joints when required. Once the cause of your back pain has been resolved they may advise you on particular postures and exercises to reduce the chance of any further episodes of back or neck pain.

  • Posture: This is, in my opinion, the most important aspect in the prevention of back and neck pain. All back pain sufferers that I have treated over the past 16 years have had poor posture. I have never seen a back pain patient with perfect posture. Also, poor posture over time can cause back pain. This is the most common type of back pain that I see on a daily basis. Learning a correct sitting posture and how to stand correctly followed by a posture exercises such as Pilates is a main key in the prevention of further episodes. Think tall!

  • Diet: Is very important in the management and prevention of back and neck pain. A common cause of back pain is osteoporosis. This is where the condition of your bones can weaken and become more brittle - resulting in the bones affected breaking more easily. This can be prevented and helped greatly through exercise and diet. Prevention is the key here.

    Seek advice from a doctor or dietician with regard to the calcium-rich foods recommended to prevent and treat this condition.

Prevention is better than cure! So, get out there and address all aspects of fitness.

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The materials contained on this website are provided for general information and educational purposes only and do not constitute medical advice on any particular individual situation. Please see your Chartered Physiotherapist or other medical practitioner for full and individual consultation.

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