Mind Your Back!

I’ve never had any problems with my back – lucky me, I know – but a week ago I got up from the PC and must have twisted in a funny way. In just a couple of seconds I ‘did’ something to my back. Ouch! I had quite a pain for a while (although I still managed to play tennis, so it wasn’t that bad…) and then a dull ache for a few days afterwards.

So, I started doing some back exercises, found in the trusty Woman’s Weekly (taken from Lexie Williamson’s The Stretching Bible)

This is for ‘niggling lower backache’ which, apparently, just sometimes needs a few simple movements to ‘unlock muscular tension’. And the best thing about this exercise, is that you can do it in bed!

NB: if you’re experiencing lower back pain rather than a muscular ache, consult a medical professional before attempting any stretching. (I have to put that, so you don’t all end up in traction and try to sue me).

This is a double leg hug. You lie on your back and hug both legs into your stomach and rock a little from side to side across the lower back. Hold for 20 seconds.

Ah, it has really helped! My back is almost back to normal but it has made me think about protecting my back. Especially having read this nightmare from Belinda Pollard (scroll down to the bit about her back – although the rest is good reading too). All because she had bad posture and sat for too long…. and another writer, Elizabeth Spann Craig had a similar problem, which she writes about here.

She reports that, if you want to protect your back, “The best practice seems to be to sit with your feet on the floor and your laptop on a desk or a table of some kind. Sit with your back straight. And take frequent breaks.”

ANOTHER TIP: Apparently, when you sneeze, you can jar your back, so you should always bend your knees! (that sounds like the start of a poem..)

Anyone else got any back stories (good or bad?)). Or tips for keeping healthy as a writer?

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21 Responses to Mind Your Back!

  1. simonwhaley says:

    Being tall and (relatively thin) I’ve always had a susceptible lower back. And that is why I make a point of going for a 45-minute everyday. Anything to get us out of that chair, away from the computer! And it’s good thinking time, too!

  2. Lynne Hackles says:

    I do that exercise every day as part of my physio regime. Last time I had a day without back pain was in autumn of 1985. Not many people know that but this morning I woke up in a bad way and am feeling sorry for myself. Hence the confession.

  3. Derek Baker. says:

    In my humble opinion you should do “Pilates”.
    Have a lesson,learn the basics,and then work on your own Every Day.
    That’s what I do. I wish I had found it earlier in my life.

  4. I get lots of students with bad backs coming to yoga classes. There’s really no secret: just keep moving. Stand up every 30 minutes and have a stretch and a walk. If you sit at work all day, you should have your feet flat on the floor, spine alert but not rigid. Use a foot rest if you’ve got little legs! You should be able to look straight ahead at your screen, so as not to give yourself a crickin the nect. My favourite back stretch, apart from the one in your pic, is to hold on to the kitchen work top and work backwards until I’m parallel to the floor, with my feet under my hips, like an upside-down capital L, and then to push my weight backwards, visualising space opening up between pairs of vertebrae.

    • Yes, I’ve been contemplating yoga classes recently as I’m sure all that stretching will help (and, must admit, it appeals to me more than pilates!). I will keep you posted and in the meantime, I’ll give that exercise a go! Thanks Julia

    • By the way, you could write a great article for one of the writing mags on keeping your back healthy…! (I can’t do it because I don’t feel qualified! I know Alex will disagree with that, esp. given his last blog post about not fearing the expert! But you could do it!)

  5. Linda Casper says:

    Pilates is my saviour! Also use an ergonomic chair and table to write at, which I don’t always practise.

  6. Patsy says:

    I badly injured my back in my twenties and do regular stretching and physio in order to keep it strong and pain free. Just a few stretches, done whenever I remember, make a big difference.

    • Good for you, Patsy. My OH also suffered a back injury when he was younger and has to do lots of stretching and have occasional visits to the chiropractor too (he’s also tall which doesn’t seem to help with backs!).

  7. Like Linda, pilates for me. Every morning. Stretches and other movements periodically during the day. Swimming is good. Rolling a tennis ball pressed against a wall, up and down my spine’s sides, is very soothing …

  8. Lynne Hackles says:

    For all those contemplating Pilates. Be sure to find a good teacher. Years ago, I was in hospital regularly and on Wednesdays at least three patients were sent home. ‘It’s to make room for the Pilates class,’ the nurse said. And sure enough it was.

    • Good advice, Lynne. Whenever anyone asks me about yoga (or Pilates), I always tell them to ask their teacher where he or she trained. It’s funny: you wouldn’t go to an unqualified osteopath, say, but people will happily go along to an exercise class without checking that the teacher has at least a nodding acquaintance with anatomy and physiology. My yoga diploma is the result of 500 hours of top-notch training; it makes me so angry that people can go away for a weekend, learn a few postures and then call themselves a yoga teacher.

      • I’m not surprised, Julia (that you are angry about that). It’s a bit like that with creative writing teaching. I know it’s not quite the same: you can’t ‘damage’ someone (at least, not physically) by being a useless creative writing teacher but you can a) take money under false pretences b) bore people c) put them off writing for life d) crush what little confidence they might have e) teach them incorrect things…! And anyone can set themselves up as a creative writing tutor, or course leader, or critique-giver. That annoys me too!!

    • Interesting, Lynne (and quite frightening!!).

  9. Wendy Clarke says:

    Luckily my back is a part of me that hasn’t caused me problems so far (touch wood). Don’t get me started on hips and knees! Glad you’re okay now.

    • Thanks for your comment, Wendy. Glad it’s not just me who suffers with ‘knees’! I know I should do some exercises (and, ahem, lose a bit of weight!) and that will almost certainly help – but it’s just making the effort!

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