Straightening Up Britain – looking after your back

A couple of weekends ago I was invited up to London (see my photos at the bottom) to attend an afternoon in the company of the British Chiropractic Association (BCA) it was bang in the centre of Covent Garden – one of my favourite London haunts and in a swanky PR office too.

Backs aren’t something we think of very often, it’s a part of our body that is constantly taken for granted, over worked, over stressed and relied upon in so many ways. It’s only when you or someone close has a back problem that you realise just how important your back is. Without it in tip top order, you’ll be flat on your back and in agony, trust me I’ve seen it. My late dad suffered slipped discs that turned him from the strongest man I knew into a mouse unable to lift a teacup.

So I listened, I watched and I chatted with the experts and here I am passing on the message for their campaign Straightening Up Britain. Basically it’s all about posture, having good posture and maintaining it. This is a major step in preventing back pain. We lead such hectic lifestyles that the basic warning signs of back problems go unnoticed, you have to imagine ALL THE TIME you have a plumb line hanging straight through your ear, shoulder, hip knee and ankle to be used also when you are sitting. Stop slouching over your PC.

BCA fencing position

Use the side of the car to support you as you get a baby/child in and out of the car

Here are some tips to keep you straight

Give your posture a sporting chance

  • Any unaccustomed exercise can put you at risk of back pain. You might only play a relaxed, low-risk sport once a week, but you still need to prepare yourself sufficiently – mentally and physically.
  • Warming up and warming down is essential to ensure that your joints and muscles don’t get a shock. Strong abdominal muscles can potentially help to prevent a bad back.

Don’t just sit there

  • A lack of exercise is your worst enemy. Regular exercise is essential as the fitter you are, the less likely you are to injure yourself.
  • Simple activities such as stretching and shoulder shrugging can all help to keep your back in line.
  • Do not sit for prolonged periods.

Don’t drive yourself around the bend

  • Driving long distances for work, on the school run or picking up the monthly shop, the last thing on our minds is the state of our backs whilst in the driving seat. There is almost twice as much pressure on your back when you are sitting incorrectly than there is if you stand up. Relax – a relaxed driving position reduces stress on the spine.
  • Allow your seat to take your weight, try and make sure you are sitting as far back in the car seat as possible so it can support you fully.

Sit up straight in front of the TV

  • When you are relaxing in front of the TV, the tendency is to ‘slouch’ when sitting. The ideal sitting position is to let the seat take your weight and, if possible, keep as much of your body in contact with the chair so that your whole body is supported.

Carry with care

  • Be aware of the potential dangers of putting more strain on one side of the body more than the other.
  • Any bag that spreads equal weight on both shoulders is preferred, so if you can carry items in a rucksack – do it! Adjust the straps of a bag to keep it as close to the back as possible which ensures weight is evenly distributed across the back.

Footloose and fancy free

  • Having good footwear is an essential part of having a good posture. Soft-soled shoes, which are supportive and have a good grip, are recommended.

Perfect PC posture

  • A lot of people spend hours in front of a PC each day – make sure you are sitting comfortably and have your spine supported. Don’t forget to shift position from time to time.
  • Limit yourself to forty-minutes sitting at a time and take regular breaks. If possible, have your arms supported.

And so to bed

  • Try and adopt a sleeping position which creates less physical stress on the back first thing in the morning. For example, lay on your side and not on your front with your neck twisted. When you wake up, try some gentle stretches, such as drawing your knees to your chest, before getting out of bed.

and afterwards I spent a lovely twin free afternoon taking some photos of some of my favourite London spots

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