In later years it is important to look after those areas of the body which are vulnerable to aches and pains. The back is no exception and as it is such a delicate region of the body, a bit of tender loving care is required from time to time. So, comprising of a total of 24 bones connected together in-between a range of joints, the spine is a complicated part of the human anatomy.
To prevent inflammation from developing over the age of 50, apart from seeking medical advice, there are lots of other things one can do to ease the pain for the most common back complaints.
- Physical activity: Back pain is sometimes alleviated by physical exercise. Exercise will help loosen the joints through movement while making them suppler. However, you must be careful not to aggravate pain from straining the muscles too much. The NHS website has some good advice on the safest way for you to exercise: https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/exercise/exercises-for-back-pain/
- Physical Therapy: A prescribed programme of back exercise can be devised for you by expert Physio Therapists to increase strength, agility, balance and maintaining flexibility in your back. While supporting your abdominal muscles in this way, the spine will become more pliable and freer from pain.
- Medication: Taking painkillers at a regular time each day is considered far more efficient over taking pills on demand as and when the pain worsens.
- Ice packs: They can be effective when applied directly to the area of pain. Try pulses of 20 minutes on and then 20 minutes off to alleviate the inflammation and spasms. Failing that, a bag of frozen peas will do as a substitute.
- Heat pads: These can be introduced 2 or 3 days after the pain starts. Warm baths and heat lamps are equally effective both for relaxing the muscles and stimulating blood flow. To prevent burns, do not sleep with a heating pad on or prolong its’ use beyond 15 – 20 minutes. Stretching muscles is recommended which often prevents muscle spasms from occurring after the application of heat.
- Rest: As you get older, recovery from a back injury becomes longer. Gentle stretches are found to have a therapeutic effect. Resting in bed beyond 48 hours is more likely to exacerbate symptoms and extend recovery time.
If you are in any doubt always check in with the GP or health provider.
Try Livewell’s back pain web page with heaps of advice and articles about looking after your back.
Posture – The position in which someone holds their body when standing or sitting.
Age can sometimes bring mounting frailty and while for some of us, our bones and joints may stay relatively strong, lower back problems do develop from poor posture. Bad posture tends to bring added pressure to the lower back causing the muscles to alter position slightly and if it is not addressed, increasing pain stiffness throughout the spine could occur. Awareness and suitable standing/sitting postures are said to be more likely to create a greater mobility in later years. If you get into good practices earlier on, that care and attention will help your back to stay pain-free for longer. However, whatever your age, it’s not too late to start monitoring yours.
Here are 6 quick tips about posture to be going on with:
- If you are sitting for an extended period, have short breaks by getting up and stretching to keep the back joints supple.
- Do some regular stretching exercise encouraging flexibility between the back joints but don’t over strain muscles as this will cause cramp and spasming.
- Sit up straight to strengthen core muscles. Pilates, Tai Chi and Yoga are all good exercises to help you achieve improved muscle memory.
- Sitting hunched over a computer screen risks headaches and lower back pain. Make sure your eyes are level with the screen, arms and wrists as straight as possible then look straight ahead. Consider adding headrests to chairs, lumbar support for the spine with armrests to support the whole body.
- The spine weakens with old age, so the muscles must be kept in good shape as much as they can. Try researching some exercises you can do at home or at the gym which will strengthen the back muscles. Weight-bearing exercises are ideal such as walking and stair climbing to build up good posture
- Check your calcium intake. Calcium is important for building strong bones. Usually, a nutritious and balanced diet provides the requisite amount needed. Keeping hydrated is also beneificial as water facilitates a supple spine.