Winter care- let’s talk spines! Are you creating space in your back? Or compressing it?
Help with back pain – let’s talk spines. In Western europe in particular we have some of the worst back pain statistics in the world. 1 in 5 people Europeans according to SIP (Societal impact of Pain) will suffer from back pain. The W.H.O also say that the lifetime prevalence of non-specific (common) low back pain is estimated at 60% to 70% in industrialized countries.
This is an incredible statistic!
It is my personal belief that the human body has an incredible capacity to self heal given the right tools. It is also a belief that most back pain issues can be resolved without the need of back surgery.
Let’s talk about why, and what you can do to support your back.
Help with back pain….
Posture– from the tips of your toes to your fingertips. Each time you lift a bag, bend down poorly, sit at a desk, practice sport, walk, you could be adversely affecting your spine (that’s before we have even gotten to the complex movement patterns in something like a HiiT class!). It would only take a slight bit of misalignment in the way you walk, for example, to mean your entire body is out of line, thus putting pressure on your spine. (You can learn more about checking your walking/posture patterns in links 2 and 3 at the end of the article) . The alexander technique is also amazing reminder us to stay RELAXED when we are sitting/moving throughout the day. If you need help with this please feel free to contact me.
Stretching– as someone who has experienced severe lower back pain in my life- I can’t emphasise enough the importance of stretching! As many of us are lugged in a chair all day or hunched over our phone- many of us have short hamstrings and tight glutes/hip flexors which will affect space and pressure in the lower back. I have a stretch routine I do every day before any yoga/training/ any other physical practice that day. I’ve shared the stretch class here. (if you are in a period of pain please go see the best physio/osteo that money can buy before doing anything!) Remember your body is a healing machine, and given the right tools and right practice is able to heal itself. Once you are out of pain you can then start to look into strength building to protect and pressure off your lower back (message me for details of 8 week Strong and Lean programs) FREE stretch CLASS BELOW please email for more info.
The problem with yoga…Yoga is very spinal- so it is critical that you have a really experienced yoga teacher to check your alignment and that you are moving well and safely. Personally I would avoid larger classes and head to small and personal sessions where the teacher can really watch, correct and advise. The key again is really creating length through the hamstrings and space through the hips in order to free up the lower back before even considering complex movement patterns. Any yoga practice should seek to build the foundation first of all correctly, before stepping into anything more intense. During periods of back pain issues – Avoiding forward folds (use a chair, wall instead) and never rolling up the spine would be two key principles to begin with! . You are welcome to get in touch if you need more help! Dru Yoga and Restorative yoga, and alignment focussed practices are the best (Iyengar and Anusara for example). Using a meditation practice that helps you to relax and focus your awareness on healing is also highly recommended. Pilates can be a great option for strengthening up the core too.
Getting 2 advanced opinions. When I chose to have back surgery 11 years ago- it was because I genuinely felt that was the only option left for me. Over the past 10 years I have learned SO much more about healing / body and in my opinion it should be a very very last resort for the long term health of your spine. Get at least 2 opinions of senior physios/ osteos who can have a look at your movement patterns/ scan if they feel you need it. If is something serious- it will need a huge bucket load of PATIENCE to solve (take my word!). If you want to find out more- recommend checking out the work of Professor Peter O’Sullivan whose advice saved me a second back surgery. You can read about him in link 7.
BOOZE, SUGAR and OTHER FLARERS! Cutting out alcohol, sugar, processed foods and anything else that INFLAMES your system will help with spines and reduce pain considerably. Adding in anti-inflammatories from turmeric to blueberries, omega 3 oils, to spinach and kale (anything dark green is generally the one) will make a difference. You can check out link 4 for more information.
WATER THERAPY The biggest life changer for me was when I discovered water therapy. Somebody recommended I try it when I was in hospital in Costa Rica and it was some months later that I tried it and it completely changed my world, from healing my physical injury, to emotional pain and learning how to really relax. I also practice jogging on my toes in water – strengthens up those inner arches of the feet and rebalances overpronation which can affect the lower back! You can learn more about water therapy in link 5.
SLEEP How do you sleep? We spend half our lives in bed (maybe more for some this year!) so making sure you have a high quality bed with pillows to keep your back healthy whilst you are in the land of nod. Lots of research suggests either sleeping on your back with pillows under your knees, or if you sleep on your side placing pillow/s in between your knees will help your lower back. Invest in a leg wedge if you are looking for something special. Link number 6
If you need further help or recommendation please contact me. Free offering at the base of the page
- 8. Alexander technique video
- article by peter o’sullivan lower back studies
My name is Katie, I’m a Holistic Wellbeing and Healing Coach. Officially I’m a PT , Yoga/Mindfulness teacher (combining elements of Dru, Hatha, Flow, Anusara), and Water Journey therapist, and I blend each of these and many years of experience of working with people 1-2-1 / small groups. I am passionate about helping people FEEL BETTER, both from mental health challenges to physical wellbeing. (ranging from improve physical strength, flexibility, cv fitness, and managing their minds, overcoming trauma, rediscovering relaxation and deep inner peace).
Together we can create a bespoke 8 or 10 week programme depending on YOUR needs & goals, so where are YOU at on your journey to optimum health and wellness? Whist we have no idea how the external world is going to be- why not invest in you + your interior world??!
You can read more about OM!FitnessandWellbeing on my website here
You can learn about Water Journey Therapy here
Free 37 minute pure stretch class….