A Jubilee Celebration of wellbeing and back care
In this Diamond Jubilee year, the importance of maintaining good health into later years is highlighted in no finer form than by our reigning monarch herself, HRH The Queen. As we all take inspiration from such a fine example of long life, health and wellbeing, it is important to be aware of how to preserve one of our body’s most important assets as we age: the back.
This is particularly pertinent as recent research, by the British Chiropractic Association, shows that 48% of Britons are currently suffering from back or neck pain, with 73% believing that they are less active than they were 20 years ago.
With 2012 being the European Year for Active Ageing, this is another reason to celebrate graceful ageing, so the British Chiropractic Association has teamed up with trusted TV doctor, Dr. Chris Steele to raise awareness of these important issues.
Dr. Chris Steele comments: “Throughout our lives our habits and activities change, impacting our bodies in a number of ways. This combined with the natural course of ageing means that our spine and back can be heavily affected, which is why it’s just as important to pay attention to your back care needs just as much as other, more visible parts of your body”.
Tim Hutchful, British Chiropractic Association (BCA) chiropractor comments: “It is a worrying reality that almost half of Brits currently suffer from back or neck pain with 24% claiming they have suffered for more than 10 years, and 29% of 18 - 25 year olds suffer every week. There are simple things you can do at any age to help preserve the health of your back, and the BCA is on hand with a wealth of practical advice”.
Whatever your age, see below hints and tips from the BCA for maintaining a healthy posture:
• When playing sport at school it’s a good idea to take care of your back even at this early age. As with any exercise, you need to warm up first. Don’t go straight into it; start with lighter movements like walking or jogging to lessen the chance of muscle strain. If you are exercising, why not throw in some stretches and exercises specifically designed to strengthen your back? Easy to learn and do, the BCA has developed a sequence of precise, slow stretches, each with a specific purpose. To see the exercises, watch them in action on a downloadable vodcast, view an online step by step guide or request free leaflets, click here.
According to a recent research report published in the Archives of Disease in Childhood which looked to investigate whether backpack weight is associated with back pain in children, 50% of children carrying heavy back packs had a higher risk of back pain.
• CHECK IT! This makes it really important to check a child’s school bag every day to make sure they are only carrying the things they need for that day. Also, make sure your child is using a backpack and ensure they wear it correctly; both straps on and tightened so the back pack is snug up against the whole of the back.
At this time in life we may find we are slaves to fashion. 2011 research from the BCA revealed that two thirds of men (66%*) have suffered from back pain. According to the study, three in five (60%*) men carry some sort of man bag. These man bags come in all shapes and sizes – from the traditional over-the-shoulder laptop case, to messenger bags and satchels.
• Lighten your load and try to carry any weight over both shoulders to prevent any strain on your back muscles.
‘Career Climbing Thirties’
At this time of life people are contending with long working hours and parenthood which can both be detrimental to back health!
• If using a laptop, don’t sit in the same position for long periods as you are looking down onto the screen with your head unsupported. Rest the laptop on a table not on your lap, arms should be flat and your elbows level with the desk or table you are using. Use a seat with arm rests.
33% of Brits aged 25-34 and 43% aged 35-44, surveyed in 2011** stated that neck or back pain prevents them from sleeping.
• Check that your mattress is giving you the support you need. When lying on your side, your spine should be in a straight line. The key thing when buying a new mattress is to TRY TRY TRY out as many as possible to find the right one for you.
‘Slow Down Forties’
It’s time to be aware of the initial signs of ageing. Ensure you keep active, as a sedentary lifestyle is the enemy of a healthy back. 44% of Brits between the age of 45-54** claim back pain prevents them from playing sports.
• It is important to take care of any back problems you develop. Mild strains can be handled by –staying gently mobile and using ice on the painful area. If problems persist, see your doctor or someone like a chiropractor.
• Muscles and joints are designed for movement where possible walk and exercise to keep fit. All movement and exercise will improve muscle tone, improve circulation and posture.
At this time of life our fitness levels wane. 51% of over 55 year olds* are currently suffering from back or neck pain, but could find this may be relieved with some light exercise.
• Try to take up a new sport which will give gentle exercise whilst keeping you moving and flexible.
• If you drive around rather than walk or cycle, follow as we are all different shapes and sizes, make sure you adjust car seats, head rests and steering wheels to meet your individual requirements. This will not only improve your comfort in the car but also your safety.
Whichever age bracket you are in, take action to make the best of life by keeping your back health in check. Visit the British Chiropractic Association’s website
, to find a registered chiropractor, to see exercises, watch them in action on a downloadable vodcast, view an online step by step guide or request free leaflets.
*BCA research from January 2012, conducted by Atomik
**BCA research of 2,000 respondents carried out in January 2011
Chiropractic is a primary contact health profession that specialises in the diagnosis, treatment, prevention and management of many conditions that are due to problems with bones, joints, muscles and nerves, particularly those of the spine.
The BCA represents well over 50% of UK chiropractors. Chiropractic is a statutorily regulated healthcare profession, regulated by the General Chiropractic Council (GCC). Members of the BCA must abide by the GCC’s Code of Conduct and Standard of Proficiency. The association only accepts from an internationally recognised college of chiropractic education. Chiropractic care offers hands on pain management and focuses on muscles, joints and nerves. Chiropractic is suitable for all ages and can help with a wide range of problems.
Chiropractic treatment mainly involves safe, often gentle spinal manipulation to free joints in the spine or other areas of the body that are not moving properly. Apart from manipulation, chiropractors may use a wide variety of techniques including ice, heat, ultrasound, exercise and acupuncture as well as advice about posture and lifestyle.
About Dr. Chris Steele
Dr. Chris qualified as a doctor in 1968 and has worked as a GP in South Manchester since 1970. Dr. Chris became interested in treating his patients who smoked in the early 70’s and became a pioneer in this field. Chris is now considered an expert in smoking cessation and nicotine addiction. Dr. Chris is soon launching his own website, which will provide people with information and knowledge about health, including how to lose weight and stopping smoking. These are Dr. Steele's specialist areas and he has written books and articles covering these fields. Dr. Chris wrote 'Quit Smoking with the Nicotine Phase out Program', and in 1989 he wrote the 'Fat Farewell Diet'. He is also the author of 'Babies and younger children'
Dr. Chris is the resident doctor on ITV's This Morning daytime magazine show. He appeared on the very first show in 1988 and still appears on the show every week. He also writes for Woman, At Home, the MEN and TV Quick. He was voted Health Journalist of the Year in 2007 and received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Guild of Health Writers in 2010.