Is back pain normal?

Back pain is common, but it isn’t ‘normal’, and it certainly shouldn’t be considered simply an inevitable part of aging. Back pain affects around a third of adults in any given year. Almost everyone will experience back pain in their lifetime. Worryingly, after experiencing a first episode of back pain, 62% of people will still experience pain one year later. The ONS has stated that last year, 31 million work days were lost due to back, neck and musculoskeletal complaints.

So this type of pain certainly isn’t unusual but it can be particularly debilitating and can mean time off work. ‘Twinges’ in the back or neck sometimes self-resolve but they can be a warning sign. If your back suddenly ‘goes’ or your neck ‘locks up’ for no particular reason or from something as simple as bending, it can be an indication that there has been pressure building up for some time.

“Sitting is the new smoking”

This is a phase that I’ve come across a few times now. It relates to studies that show an increasingly severe risk of mortality from cardiovascular disease with more hours of the day spent sitting. Many of us now work sat down in offices in front of the computer. Then add in the morning and evening commute, time on the sofa, and being sat up in bed with a book or tablet. It’s easy to see how some estimates say that we spend on average 15 hours a day sat down. Consider that this is in fact something very new. In the 1950’s few people had cars, they walked to work and to the shops. A hundred years ago most people worked the land or did physical factory work. Our bodies are designed to move; for millennia we were all hunter-gatherers.

There are also more immediate problems than heart disease with a sedentary lifestyle. Sitting for extended periods puts up to 3 times more weight on the cartilage discs of the low back. The low back, neck and shoulders pick up a lot strain from the seated position. Our spines become deconditioned and this increases the risk of injury. If your back feels ‘weak’, then look first to your sitting habits.

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The antidote is simple but requires perseverance. Sit straight, take breaks, move around and if you feel that you need to get your back corrected, strengthened and stabilised, then call in to Chiropractic UK Hinckley for a check up and an adjustment.