Andrea Lucchetti owns Wymondham Chiropractic Clinic and through a mixture of chiropractic and acupuncture, he has restored the backs, and much more, of a huge number of people. Half Italian, Andrea appreciates the flavours of true Italian cooking, believing that it nourishes the soul. In this first of his columns, he talks about simple stretches to stop back pain from spoiling the pleasures that life has to offer.

Enjoying food is one of life’s many pleasures – being half Italian, I would say that! Other pleasures include gardening, doing DIY, enjoying sporting activities, and so much more. Ideally, you would enjoy these without suffering back pain. So can we avoid, or at least minimise, this ultimate party spoiler?

In this article, I will be exploring back pain and hope to give you, the reader, some useful tips and advice. For the last 30 years, I have been clinic director of a chiropractic clinic. In that time, I have seen many different ideas come and go. Believe it or not but there are fashion trends even in musculoskeletal care! Who remembers being told to lie down for a week or so on a bed with a door underneath it? That was a bad fashion moment, as was being placed in a plaster cast for a few weeks for lower back pain. 

Low back pain can have many causes and reacts differently to the same treatment at different ages. It’s a confusing problem. People get better with very different treatments. But here are some common denominators: reasonable sitting posture helps keep your back muscles strong; and good bending techniques are also so important in preventing disc damage and sciatica. Reasonable core muscles and buttock muscle strength is really important too. 

Does losing weight help? Yes and no. I treat lots of skinny people with chronic low back pain. I think that it’s more important to have good core strength. Developing trunk strength is trendy at the moment, but it’s also best practice advice. 

Does your mattress make a difference? Yes! Generally speaking, a soft mattress does not give you enough support, but also a mattress too hard cannot give you enough. For most people, that middle ground works well so I advise my patients to buy a medium sprung mattress. While we are talking about sleep, I have to say that sleeping on your front is seriously increasing your chance of low back and neck pain! We spend around a third of our lives lying on a bed, so it is a serious investment to get right.

There are really some simple exercises that can help improve your back strength and flexibility:

For most people, lying on their backs on the bed in the morning and bringing both knees up into a ball, holding this position for around 45 seconds, can help warm the back up for the day. 

Another safe exercise is to lie on the bed with both knees bent and feet on the mattress. Then, with both knees together, slowly allow the knees to lower one way to around 45 degrees towards the mattress, hold this position for a few seconds and then slowly allow the knees to twist 45 degrees the other way. Doing this ten times from side to side in the morning can help stretch your back.

In the next issue I will explore what different treatment options people with back pain have. We will look at chiropractic, physiotherapy, acupuncture, and massage. 



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