Back Problems?

Back Problems: Do

  • Check your mattress. If you don’t have the right mattress on your bed or if your mattress is too old, it can harm your back health.
  • Stand up straight. Good posture is important and is not only attained by standing or sitting up straight, but also by maintaining the arch in your low back and neck, .To find the correct position for your low back while standing, place both hands on lower back muscles 3-4 cm either side of your spine then bend forward; you should feel these muscles contract. Now lean backward, arching your back until you feel these muscles go slack. Repeat these movements several times until you can pinpoint the exact angle where the muscles relax. This is the ideal position for your lower back.

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  • Sitting. When we sit in the same position for too long we start to feel uncomfortable. This is your body telling you to change position. Our bodies like to change position every so often and to give certain muscles a break or to use others. You should try to change the sitting position every 10 minutes or so to support your body in this function. An even better idea is to get up out of your chair every 30 minutes and move around to relieve your spine, lubricate your joints, and get the blood flowing to all parts of the body.

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  • Treat the cause, not the symptom. A common phrase, If the cause of an injury is not addressed then the results of treatment will be temporary at best. Many practitioners fail to get patients better because they treat the symptoms, and not the cause. You must understand that sometimes the focal point of the pain is not necessarily where the actual problem is. Particularly in the cases of back, shoulder, or foot pain. Anybody can treat somebody’s symptoms, that’s easy. A good practitioner will try to figure out why it hurts there, and fix the CAUSE of the symptoms, which will provide lasting relief.

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  • Get a good night’s sleep. Studies have shown that less than seven hours of sleep per night causes greater levels of cortisol in comparison to people who sleep eight or nine hours. However, people who slept more than 9 hours also had greater cortisol levels. ( cortisol is a hormone that affects nearly all organs and tissues of the body. It plays an important role in helping to: Respond to stress and regulate metabolism) 
  • Exercise. Start to build a regime that works for you, that you can fit into your day and work around said regime. It does not have to be done all at the same time! Maybe a stretch in the morning with some strengthening in the evening, at this stage you are aiming for a moderate level of exercise up to about 20 minutes a day.
  • Nutrition. A very important subject that needs to be addressed in more detail. This warrants its page later.

Back problems:  Don’t.

First a bit of bad news. Once a disc is damaged it remains damaged.

  • Don’t lift things in the first hour after waking up! Because the discs are thicker in the morning, the pressure inside the disc increases; which for those with damaged or unhealthy discs causes greater discomfort. One hour after getting up the discs have lost 90% of their gained thickness, which is good news for back pain sufferers, as they will begin to feel better.
  • Don’t stress! This is a big one. Studies have shown that when we are stressed the hormone Cortisol increases its levels in the bloodstream. Cortisol is one of the fight or flight hormones used by the body. It is a great hormone for getting a quick release of energy so we can run away from a tiger. However, a downside of cortisol is that it inhibits the immune system, therefore, putting us at greater risk of getting sick.

So don’t forget if you are sitting at your computer now reading this, its time to get up and move about!

It might be worth keeping a daily diary/journal of your problem, i.e when it feels worse and what you were doing at the time or what movements or exercises you do that relieve the pain. This will help you to build an exercise regime that works for you.  Bear in mind about 90% of adults will suffer back pain at some point.


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Exercise for relief (Backs)

If you suffer from back problems, let me be the first to sympathize with you. Back pain is one of the most debilitating pains you can suffer from and I have suffered on and off for the past 42 years. But I am here to tell you that there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Once you have assessed the cause of your back pain you can start to work with it. Assessment is vital! You can’t fight what you can’t see or in this case know.  The first thing that you need to do is to get on the floor on a rug or a mat and stretch, at this stage it is very gentle so don’t worry too much about a hard warm-up, some walking on the spot for about a minute or two will suffice.

  •  Full body stretch:  Inhale to the diaphragm through the nose and exhale through the mouth 3 times.

  • Next, from this position bend your knee so that your heels are close to your bottom, Inhale…. and as you exhale push your lower back down so that you are flattening the natural arch in the lower back to the ground hold your spine down for a count of 10 repeat 3/4 times…
  • The final stretch in this trio. Place your hands by your shoulders while lying face down. Inhale and then exhale as you pus your shoulder, chest, etc off the floor. Leave your hips on the floor and while breathing try to relax your pelvis and your glutes releasing tension in your lower back.


It is important to remember that your breathing is vital throughout all stretches. Inhale through the nose when relaxed into the diaphragm and exhale through the mouth when at the pinnacle of the stretch. while in position breathe normally. These are gentle exercises you can do even while you have pain! Remember that we have to maintain as much mobility as possible.

8 Steps to a Pain-Free Back:

One of the best books I have read on the subject of back pain is this one. The author Esther Gokhale writes from our perspective the one of the back pain sufferer.

  • Paperback: 244 pages
  • Publisher: Pendo Press; 1 edition (April 1, 2008)                     
  • Language: English
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  • ISBN-10: 0979303605
  • ISBN-13: 978-0979303609
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 0.7 x 11 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds
  • Customer Reviews: 4.5 out of 5 stars 1,082 customer ratings
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #11,150 in Books


    “The most lucid account I have read of how the human spine works, with handy lessons in how to stand, sit, walk, and sleep free of back pain.”  —J. M. Coetzee, Nobel Prize–winner in Literature

    8 Steps to a Pain-Free Back is the best back pain book on the market. I had significant problems with low back pain and sciatica for more than two decades before Esther Gokhale was able to help me. If I had found her earlier, it could have saved me a great deal of pain and grief.”  —Paul R. Ehrlich, author, Human Natures and Population Bomb

    “Esther’s technique for treating chronic back pain is unique and her research backs it up. This is a great tool for all of us.”  —Billie Jean King, winner of 20 Wimbledon titles

    “A great book for someone serious about achieving a pain-free back and willing to work to reach that goal.”  —American Association of Orthopaedic Surgeons

    “Every year, tens of thousands of patients undergo major back surgery without any benefits. By using Esther Gokhale’s novel techniques, many of these patients can avoid such needless and expensive medical procedures, and quickly return to a pain-free life.”  —John R. Adler, MD, neurosurgery, Stanford University Medical Clinic

    “This book . . . will eventually be recognized by the medical community as the greatest contribution ever made to nonsurgical back treatment in this country.”  —Helen Barkan, MD, Ph.D., neurology, Mayo Clinic

    “This is not only a stimulating self-help guide for relief of back pain through healthy posture but also a work of art that celebrates the grace and poetry of the human body.”  —David Werner, author, Where There Is No Doctor

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