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back pain, Walking as exercise


Activity such as walking is encouraged especially if you have back pain. What if someone is not active or there is disability preventing the walk? What if there is no disability but there is no motivation to walk. How to stay motivated?


If you’re not very active but able to walk, increase your walking distance gradually. If your joints are a problem, check whether your local swimming pool holds exercise classes. The water helps to support your joints while you move and can help with muscle strength.

If you’re not active because of a medical condition, get advice on exercising with disability.


Make it a habit.
Think of ways to include walking in your daily routine. Example, include:

  • walking part of your journey to work
  • walking to the shops
  • using the stairs instead of the lift
  • leaving the car behind for a short journey
  • doing a regular walk with a friend
  • going for a stroll with family or friends

Listen to music.
Walking while listening to music or a podcast can take your mind off the effort. It can also get you into a rhythm and help you walk faster.

Join a walking club
Walking in a group is a great way to start walking, make new friends and stay motivated.

back pain, Why keep active?



  • moving around will prevent the joints in your spine from getting stiff
  • it will keep your muscles strong
  • you will feel more positive
  • it will reduce the severity of your pain
  • you are more likely to be able to return to work quickly


The type of exercise you should do will vary depending on your level of fitness. There is no perfect type of exercise for back pain. It is therefore much better that you do a type of exercise which you enjoy and you are likely to stick to. This include:

back pain


Most back problems start for no obvious reason, which can be very frustrating. At times back pain can be caused by:

  • staying in one position too long
  • lifting something awkwardly
  • a flare-up of an existing problem

Back problems can cause a range of symptoms, including:

  • stiffness
  • muscle spasms
  • hot, burning, shooting or stabbing pains in your back and sometimes into one or both of your legs
  • pins and needles sensation due to nerve irritation

In many cases, new or flare-up of long-standing back problems should begin to settle within six weeks without the need to see a healthcare professional.

When to get medical advice?


You should go to the nearest hospital or contact your doctor if you have back pain and:

  • numbness or tingling around your buttocks
  • difficulty peeing
  • loss of bladder or bowel control
  • chest pain
  • a high temperature
  • unintentional weight loss
  • swelling and deformity in your back
  • pain does not improve after resting or is worse at night
  • the pain started after a car accident
  • the pain is so bad you’re having problems sleeping
  • pain is made worse when sneezing, coughing or pooing
  • the pain is coming from the top of your back between your shoulders rather than your lower back.

The problems above could be a sign of something more serious and need to be checked urgently.

back pain, Good Posture


The spine is strong and stable when healthy posture is practised. When slouching the muscles and ligaments strain to keep the body balanced and this can lead to back pain.

Whether you are leaning over your desk at work or home, picking up a heavy box from the floor or staring down at your laptop for hours, maintaining a good posture is important.


  • Using a computer
    Your screen should be directly in front of you at arm’s length away at the correct level. The top of the screen should be just at or slightly below eye level otherwise this could lead to problems with your neck and back.
  • Sitting comfortably
    If you are going to be sitting at a table or desk, getting the right chair is very important. Start by sitting back in your seat so that you maintain contact between your back and the chair. Adjust your chair, making sure that your feet are not dangling and are instead flat on the floor and try to keep knees in line with your hips. When sitting on the chair, pull the shoulder back and keep the back flat against the chair.
  • Get a good mattress
    Getting a wrong mattress can be detrimental to posture, whilst choosing the right one can help to minimise factors that might lead to back pain as well as impact the quality of sleep. A supportive mattress is what you should be looking for but this varies from person to person. Too firm will put the pressure points out of alignment but too soft will not support the pressure points.
  • Get up and move
    As muscles tire, slouching and other poor postures become more likely, this, in turn, puts extra pressure on the neck and back. To maintain a relaxed yet supported posture, change position frequently. One way of changing position is to take break from sitting in an office chair every half hour for two minutes to stretch, stand or walk.
back pain, spinal stenosis


Spinal stenosis is a narrowing of the spaces within your spine, which can put pressure on the nerves that travel through the spine. Spinal stenosis occurs most often in the lower back and the neck.

Some people with spinal stenosis may not have symptoms. Others may experience pain, tingling, numbness and muscle weakness. Symptoms can worsen over time.

At times spinal stenosis can be caused by wear-and-tear changes in the spine related to osteoarthritis.

Types of spinal stenosis

  • Cervical stenosis. In this condition, the narrowing occurs in the part of the spine in your neck.
  • Lumbar stenosis. In this condition, the narrowing occurs in the part of the spine in your lower back. It’s the most common form of spinal stenosis.

Symptoms of spinal stenosis

For cervical stenosis, symptoms include:

  • Numbness or tingling in a hand, arm, foot or leg
  • Weakness in a hand, arm, foot or leg
  • Problems with walking and balance
  • Neck pain
  • In severe cases, bowel or bladder dysfunction (urinary urgency and incontinence)

For lumbar stenosis, symptoms include:

  • Numbness or tingling in a foot or leg
  • Weakness in a foot or leg
  • Pain or cramping in one or both legs when you stand for long periods or when you walk, which usually eases when you bend forward or sit
  • Back pain

Treatment for spinal stenosis

Treatment for spinal stenosis depends on the location of the stenosis and the severity of your signs and symptoms.

Talk to your doctor about the treatment that’s best for your situation. If your symptoms are mild or you aren’t experiencing any, your doctor may monitor your condition with regular follow-up appointments. He or she may offer some self-care tips that you can do at home. If these don’t help, he or she may recommend medications or physical therapy.

Surgery is often recommended if other treatments haven’t helped or if you’re disabled by your symptoms. The goals of surgery include relieving the pressure on your spinal cord or nerve roots by creating more space within the spinal canal. Surgery to decompress the area of stenosis is the most definitive way to try to resolve symptoms of spinal stenosis.

Examples of surgical procedures to treat spinal stenosis include laminectomy, laminotomy, laminoplasty, minimally invasive surgery.

Alternative medicine

  • Massage therapy
  • Chiropractic treatment
  • Acupuncture
back pain


Cognitive behaviour therapy is a talking therapy that can help you manage your problems by changing the way you think and behave.

CBT is based on the concept that your thoughts, feelings, physical sensations and actions are interconnected, and that negative thoughts and feelings can trap you in a vicious cycle.

Unlike some other talking treatments, CBT deals with your current problems, rather than focusing on issues from your past. It looks for practical ways to improve your state of mind daily.


If CBT is recommended, you’ll usually have a session with a therapist once a week or once every 2 weeks. The course of treatment usually lasts for between 5 and 20 sessions, with each session lasting 30 to 60 minutes.

During the sessions, you’ll work with your therapist to break down your problems into their separate parts, such as your thoughts, physical feelings and actions.

You and your therapist will analyse these areas to work out if they’re unrealistic or unhelpful and to determine the effect they have on each other and on you.

Your therapist will then be able to help you work out how to change unhelpful thoughts and behaviours.

After working out what you can change, your therapist will ask you to practise these changes in your daily life and you’ll discuss how you got on during the next session.

The eventual aim of therapy is to teach you to apply the skills you have learnt during treatment to your daily life. This should help you manage your problems and stop them from having a negative impact on your life, even after your course of treatment finishes.

back pain, Safe Handling Tips


Lifting heavy objects using wrong technique can cause injury to your back. Below are safe lifting and handling tips.

  • Adopt a stable position. Your feet should be apart with one leg slightly forward to maintain balance (alongside the load if it’s on the ground). Be prepared to move your feet during the lift to maintain a stable posture.
  • Think before you lift. Plan the lift. Where is the load going to be placed? Will help be needed with the load?
  • Ensure a good hold on the load. Where possible, hug the load close to the body. This should help you make a stronger and more solid lift.
  • Keep the load close to the waist. Keep the heaviest side of the load next to the body.
  • Do not bend your back when lifting.
  • Do not bend the back any further while lifting. This can happen if the legs begin to straighten before starting to raise the load.
  • Do not twist when you lift. Keep your shoulders level and facing the same direction as the hips.
  • Look ahead. Keep your head up when handling the load. Look ahead, not down at the load once it has been held securely.
  • Move smoothly. Do not jerk as this can make it harder to keep control of the load and increases the risk of injury.
  • Know your limits. Do not lift or handle more than you can easily manage.


Osteopathy is a way of detecting, treating and preventing health problems by moving, stretching and massaging a person’s muscles and joints.

Osteopathy is based on the principle that the well-being of an individual depends on their bones, muscles, ligaments and connective tissues functioning smoothly together.

Osteopaths use a range of techniques but not drugs or surgery. They use physical manipulation, stretching and massage with the aim of:

  • increasing the mobility of joints
  • relieving muscle tension
  • enhancing the blood supply to tissues
  • helping the body to heal


Most people who see an osteopath do so for help with conditions that affect the muscles, bones and joints, such as:

  • lower back pain
  • uncomplicated neck pain (as opposed to neck pain after an injury such as whiplash)
  • shoulder pain and elbow pain (for example, tennis elbow)
  • arthritis
  • problems with the pelvis, hips and legs
  • sports injuries
  • muscles and joint pain associated with driving or work
back pain


(1) Exercise. Regular low-impact aerobic activities; those that don’t strain or jolt your back. Walking & swimming are good choices.

(2) Build muscle strength & flexibility.

(3) Maintain a healthy weight.

(4) Quit smoking. Smoking increases the risk of low back pain. The risk increases more with the number of cigarettes smoked per day.

(5) Take care when lifting.

(6) Check your posture when sitting, using a computer or tablets & watching television.