It could be a constant niggle or an on-off ache, but back pain can affect all of us, young or old, fit or unfit.
Around four in five people suffer from back pain at some point in their lives, but what can you do about it, other than taking pain relieving medicine?
Here are seven natural ways to relieve those annoying aches and nagging pains:
1. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate
“Because your joints and spinal discs are partly made up of water, chronic dehydration could start to cause pain and stiffness,” explains Shona Wilkinson, Nutritionist at SuperfoodUK.com.
Try to drink around 1.5-2 litres of water a day, topping your intake up with herbal teas.
2. Get stretching
The right stretches will loosen up those tense muscles and strengthen the ones that need a hand.
“Keep your spine mobile. Exercises such as waist twists helps to ease out unwanted kinks and also works the muscles,” Lynne Robinson, founder of Body Control Pilates, explains.
“Pilates exercises are perfect for ensuring they do their job properly. To locate your core muscles, sit tall, breathe in and as you breathe out gently engage your pelvic floor muscles and draw them up inside, you should feel your abdomen hollow. Hold this internal zip for a few seconds breathing wide as above,” she adds.
3. Sit up straight
Sitting at a desk or computer all day or hunched over your tablet or phone can have an adverse effect on your spine. Try to sit up with the correct posture, so the bones of your spine are lined up and your feet are flat on the floor.
Lynne explains: “Just standing tall works the deep postural muscles, which hold you up against gravity. When you slouch, not only does it look awful (bulging stomach, round shoulders) but also it puts pressure on the spine and reduces the efficiency of your breathing and the ability of your core muscles to support the spine.”
4. Vitamin D is your friend
A study has shown that over 80% of people between 15 and 52 who had chronic lower back pain were Vitamin D deficient; choose from supplements or spray to up your intake.
5. Make mine a magnesium supplement
“The mineral magnesium has many important roles in your body, and one of them is to support healthy muscle function.
“Muscle weakness can contribute to back pain, as can having tense and tight muscles. So make sure you’re getting enough magnesium,” explains nutritionist Cassandra Barns.
You can top up your magnesium levels with supplements or add more magnesium-rich foods to your diet – these include green vegetables, nuts, seeds, fish and whole grains.
6. Banish back pain with omega-3
“As well as having known benefits for your heart, brain and eyes, omega-3 fats such as those found in oily fish have been studied for their potential role in reducing pain and inflammation – including back pain,” explains Shona.
Try to eat two or three servings a week of oily fish, including salmon, mackerel, trout and sardines. Flax seeds and chia seeds and their oils are also good sources of omega-3.
7. Slow things down
Aches and pains often occur when we don’t listen to our bodies – and end up pushing ourselves that bit too hard. Make sure you take regular breaks from any activity if you’re in pain, and listen to what your body is telling you.
Share the ways you beat back ache in the Comments box below.