Another New Year has arrived. This brings new enthusiasm and commitment to improving your health through exercise. But, after a lull of lazing about over Christmas, launching yourself into a full-on physical programme could put you at risk of back and neck pain.
You should, however, take a cautious approach keeping exercise as risk free as possible. We have to remember that exercise can place added pressure on your joints and muscles, which could cause issues for your back and neck if not introduced to your body in a safe way.
It’s All in the Prep
• Before you begin any exercise programme, it is really important to check that there are no medical reasons why you cannot commence the activity, particularly if you are not normally physically active. Consult your GP if in doubt.
• A BCA Chiropractor can advise you on how to approach a new exercise routine. They can tell you what signs to look for if you’re overdoing it.
• Make sure you get the right attire for your chosen activity. If you wear clothes that are too tight when exercising, this could constrict your movement and result in injury. Make sure you have the appropriate footwear for the type of exercise you are doing – most specialist sportswear retailers will be able to guide you on this.
• With all 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.
Use Equipment Properly
• When using weights, ensure sure your legs are at least hips’ width apart and lift with bent knees. Never keep the knees straight, as this could lead to over-stretching and cause damage to your back. Avoid bending from the waist too, as it will increase stress on your lower back.
• A weight held at arm’s length can have the effect of being up to five times heavier. Try to work with weights closer to the body to help avoid injury. Always face the direction you want to carry the weight and lift using a relaxed, straight back without twisting.
• If using machines, make sure the seat is positioned correctly for your height. You want to avoid stooping or reaching when using equipment, or you could over stretch your back.
Dedicate Time to Your Back
• Whilst you are ‘in the zone’, why not throw in some stretches and exercises specifically designed to strengthen your back? Easy to learn and do, the British Chiropractic Association has developed a sequence of precise, slow stretches, each with a specific purpose. To see the exercises, click here.