NHS explain the best ways to treat back pain

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From stiff necks to an aching lower back, many of us will complain of back pain at some point or another. Although back pain can tempt you towards sinking into the sofa, or crawling back into bed, this won’t do your back any favours. Although it may sound uncomfortable, gentle exercise is generally the fastest way to alleviate back pain. Here’s the “most useful” exercise for back pain.

Whether it’s from hunching over a desk, sleeping funny or injuring yourself through an activity, most people will suffer from back pain at some time in their lives.

Back pain can be really unpleasant; losing mobility in your back even for a few hours can have a huge impact on your day.

However, for most causes of back pain, some gentle stretching and exercise – plus some painkillers – will do the trick.

If you have severe back pain that doesn’t go away after a few weeks, go to see your GP who will be able to assess what could be causing it, and refer you to a physiotherapist if necessary.

What exercise should you be doing to soothe your lower back pain?

The reason back pain is so common is your back is made up of an intricate pattern of bones, joints, ligaments and muscles.

If you sleep in an odd position, or jerk suddenly, you can very easily pull a muscle or sprain a ligament, and this can cause pain across your whole back.

Back pain can also be made worse by stress or bad posture, factors that are definitely no stranger to many office workers.

Back pain can also be made worse by stress or bad posture, factors that are definitely no stranger to many office workers.

Doing regular exercise helps to strengthen your back muscles which in turn improves your posture and spine health, making you less likely to experience back pain.

Swimming is a fantastic exercise for back pain, because not only does it help strengthen your back, but the water means you don’t put any pressure on your joints.

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Why is swimming so good for back pain?

A unique exercise allowing you to submerge yourself in water, swimming boasts special benefits.

  • Relaxing: Humans love being in water from a very early age. This is partly because being in water causes your nervous system to relax, which can soothe back pain. Swimming also prompts the release of endorphins, also known as ‘happy hormones’, so it will put a smile on your face.
  • Kind on joints: If you struggle with joint pain, swimming is an excellent choice of exercise. Buoyancy from the water means you aren’t putting any pressure on your joints, and getting a great workout in the process.
  • Builds back muscle: The more muscular your back is, the better supported your spine is and the less likely you are to develop back pain. Swimming involves using your back to pull yourself through the water, and can condition and tone your back muscles.

Any exercise in water will help your back pain, so if you don’t feel up to swimming laps yet, building up by joining a water aerobics class, or even just walking around in the water will benefit your back.

Be careful not to do anything too strenuous, and be sure to do some back stretches before you set foot in the pool.

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