Maggie Hayward   email: webcontact@fightingbackuk.com
tel: 020 8337 4410   

This information should be used as guidance only and should not replace professional medical advice you may have received. If in doubt, contact your GP or other qualified healthcare professional.

Tips to help at home work or play

Acceptance - It would be wrong to say there is a cure for back pain. However, as you can see there is plenty to help you live a better life with back pain – look forward and start living again.

Ask for assistance - Back pain is often invisible – if you can’t do something ask for help.

At Home - Spread your housekeeping duties over the whole week and don’t do it all in one go.

Avoid being overweight - Keep a healthy weight to avoid excessive load on your spine.

Back packs - When carrying a load, consider using a back pack worn on both shoulders. This avoids any discomfort from carrying loads a-symmetrically.

Beds and mattresses - A bed that suits your back is probably the most important item in the home. Don’t buy a bed without trying it first - the choice is individual. The most expensive is not necessarily the best. More information www.sleepcouncil.com

Deep Breathing - Great stress buster, especially in the outdoors.

Driving - Take regular breaks when having to drive long distances and if needed use an extra lumbar support. An even better option may be to take the train which allows you to move around regularly instead of being in one position for a long time

Employed - Back bad - discuss with your manager if you can temporarily work different hours, do different tasks or get help with those activities that exacerbate your back pain.

Footwear – You will walk twice as far (in comfort) if you wear a pair of trainers or sensible shoes. Keep fashionable shoes for smart occasions.

Gardening - The use of long-handed tools can prevent much bending and twisting – for more information visit www.thrive.org.uk

Get comfortable when working - Adjust your work station, i.e. is your computer screen at the right height? Do you have to do (too) much reaching? Do you have the correct chair?

Healthy eating - Having a good diet and drinking plenty of water is essential and can be life changing.

Hot packs & Cold Packs - Try applying a hot pack to the painful area. Available in most pharmacies and larger supermarkets or if you prefer ….
Apply a cold pack to the painful area. Special cold packs are available but a bag of frozen peas works as well. Wrap the cold pack in a towel or cloth and apply to painful area.

Pace yourself and set achievable goals - Back pain often comes and goes and you may experience flare ups. You may find that you can extend the periods of less pain by pacing yourself and setting realistic goals.

Physical activity - It is very important in keeping your back, and the rest of your body, fit and healthy. Choose an activity or exercise you enjoy doing.

Posture - Avoid long periods of being in one position, move around regularly, stretch and exercise your back muscles.

Prioritise and planning - Make a list of the things you have to do and prioritise. Don’t try to do everything in one go spread your workload over a longer period.

Relaxation - Learn relaxation techniques or find activities that you find enjoyable and relaxing.
E.g. meditation, reading, music, walking or dancing it’s your choice.

Remember - It’s your pain and by looking after yourself you are less likely to need the help of others.

Say No - be assertive - don’t say yes when you don’t want to.

Seating - Find a chair that gives good support and stability and is not too low. The ‘seat part’ should be from the back to the front and support the thighs to bend in the knees.

Seeking medical help - Most back pain disappears within days or weeks. If your pain persists, gets worse or you experience any other symptoms (e.g. feeling unwell) you should see your GP or healthcare provider.

Shopping - Using a high trolley reduces the need to bend too much. Try carrying your shopping in several bags instead of one big one or have it delivered.

Sitting - Sitting can be uncomfortable but by putting a rolled up towel in your lower back, can make you a lot more comfortable. There are also special lumbar supports available.

Sitting too long – Avoid sitting too long using a simple kitchen timer. Set it for no more than an hour to remind you to stretch or walk for a few minutes.

Sleeping well - Find a position that gives you most comfort. Use pillows to provide extra support. You can place a pillow under your knees when sleeping on your back or a pillow between your knees when sleeping on your side. If you really can’t sleep – get up for a short while – have a drink and return to bed.

Standing - In one position for a long period try resting one foot on a small step.

Stay Active - When you experience back pain it is important to stay as active as possible to help improve your recovery. Prolonged bed rest is often counter-productive in managing back pain.

Stop smoking - It can increase your chances of developing back pain since it restricts blood flow.

Stretching - Stretching regularly can reduce your discomfort. Try to incorporate stretches in your daily routine, for example when you get out of bed or when you have been sitting for a long period.

Take regular breaks - Take regular stretch breaks when doing repetitive work.

Taking sick leave - If you do have to have time off work, try to limit you time away, the longer you are off; the more difficult it is to return. Ask if you can reduce your hours for a short period.

Use of computers - Browsing the internet or playing computer games have become popular leisure time activities for many. To reduce discomfort when using your computer, you should set up your monitor at eye height, make sure you can easily reach the keyboard and mouse and use a chair that provides good support. Don’t forget to take stretch breaks.

Use correct lifting and handling techniques - Handling heavy goods can put a big strain on your back. Lift by bending from your knees, and use manual handling aids when available. Lift in stages.

Use of medication - Consider using over-the-counter pain killers. If you do, take them regularly according to the instructions; don’t wait until the pain is unbearable.

Using buses/trains/planes - Take a seat near the aisle so you can get up regularly for a walk and a stretch. Even better try and get a seat with extra leg space so you can stretch a bit more.

Watching TV - Most people tend to slouch when watching TV – try lying or find the most comfortable position for you.