Summer of sport
With a summer of sport fast approaching, Britons across the country are sure to be watching, travelling or taking part themselves. But in all the excitement of medals, podiums and cheering for your team, it can be easy to neglect your back. With 48% of the nation* already suffering from neck and back pain, the BCA is here to guide and advise against further harm during the summer’s festivities.
With one million extra visitors expected to descend upon London this summer, public transport is set to become busier than usual for those travelling long distances or commuting into work, both in London and across the wider transport network. To combat scarce seats and cramped compartments affecting your back health, the BCA has the following advice:
- If you mainly stand during your journey, make sure you wear comfortable shoes and loose clothing. Stand with your feet a shoulder width apart and find a rail or hand-hold that you can comfortably grab on to; don’t over stretch.
- If you do get a seat, relax when sitting into your chair, making sure you have your bottom against the seat back and your shoulder blades are touching the back rest of the chair. Avoid stiffness by doing shoulder shrugs, buttock clenches and foot circles
- If you carry a laptop use a rucksack design laptop case, carry it on both shoulders and adjust the straps so that the bag is held close to your back.
- Muscles and joints are designed for movement so, where possible, choose walking over buses or trains as it will help improve muscle tone, improve circulation and posture
An exciting array of exiting sporting events will be televised this summer, leaving many of us glued to our sofas and television screens. Inactivity for long periods of time, coupled with incorrect posture can have serious consequences for our backs and necks, as Rishi Loatey, British Chiropractic Association (BCA) chiropractor, explains:
“The nation already suffers the consequences of a sedentary lifestyle but, during televised sporting events, people tend to spend even more time gazing at widescreen TVs in pubs and clubs or in the comfort of their living room. Lack of exercise is our worst enemy and sitting for prolonged periods of time puts almost twice as much pressure on the back than when standing. I’d advise people take a break at least every 20 minutes; change position, get up and move around. In addition, excited sports fans should also be wary of over-exerting themselves jumping up from the sofa, whether it be in celebration of a stunning performance or agony at a missed opportunity. Sudden jerky movements should be avoided at all costs as these could also damage our backs.”
Rather than sit on the sofa, some Brits may be inspired to try a brand new sport out during 2012. Whether it be fencing, football or an entire decathlon, taking up a new activity may place extra strain on your back and necks. The BCA has the following guidelines for new sports stars to avoid injury and start their journey to gold medal fame:
- Warming-up before taking part in any kind of sporting activity is vital so as not to cause any damage.
- Start by gently moving/bending/rotating the joints and muscles that will be involved in your activity.
- Warm-down at the end of each session to avoid tight muscles and back pain the next day. You can et good advice on this from your chiropractor or qualified coach/fitness advisor.
- Always stay hydrated and drink plenty of fluids whilst exercising or playing sports.
However you are getting involved this summer, 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, watch one the useful vodcasts, download information or request free leaflets.
*research conducted in February 2012