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I Have A Bad Back And I’m Scared To Do Exercise


So many of us suffer with back pain at some point in our lives. Knowing what it is and what to do for the best can be very confusing and scary for fear of making it worse.


We get asked a lot in clinic “What exercise can I do when my back is hurting?” This is an easy question to answer and one that is very important to understand.


Historically doctors told people to rest when they had a bad back, meaning people took to their bed or the floor for a few days to weeks but the truth is this is the worst thing you can do to help ease your back pain.


Exercise or the right exercise has been proven in many studies to be the best thing to help back pain.


I totally get it when our clients are very fearful of moving when they have back pain as I am a fellow chronic back pain sufferer. Being in pain wondering if your back will “go” is a scary place to be but trust me when I say moving is the best therapy.


What you don’t want to do is go to the gym and do a body pump or body attack class when you have back pain as this could aggravate it but doing nothing could mean you won’t be able to get out of bed in the morning or be able to get in the car to get to work.


Equally an aching back doesn’t mean you need to take to the sofa or reach for the painkillers. Movement really is one of the best therapies.


I’ll explain why….


If you suffer from the type of back ache or pain that comes and goes then walking combined with exercises that are designed to improve your movement and strength can really be of benefit.


Walking keeps your entire body moving keeping joints mobile and muscles working. As it works your trunk, legs and arms it will help to keep those back joints and muscles moving too.


Even just 5-10 minutes a day if that’s all you can manage, will be of benefit if you are struggling with back pain. Ideally you want to build up to a 30-40 minute walk at least three times a week but walking daily is really the best medicine and when I say walking I mean going out for a proper meaningful walk.


If you can’t manage walking outside then try walking in a swimming pool as the buoyancy of the water will help support your body and make movement more comfortable.


Walking also releases the chemicals called Endorphins. Endorphins help to block pain and work in the brain in a similar way that some pain medication does. So, if you commit to a regular walking programme it should help reduce the need to take medication.


Exercises designed to improve your spinal, hip and lower limb movement combined with specific strength and core control exercises are another key to success but please don’t just try any exercises you stumble across on the internet as they will not be specific to your problem and could make things worse.


So, what should you do? I hear you ask….


Let me introduce Pilates to you. Lots of people know about and do Pilates but have you tried it?


Lots of people think you need to be super flexible and fit to do Pilates but this is a myth! Pilates is for everyone old and young, male and female. A lot of men think Pilates is for ladies who lunch but even the most rugged of rugby players does Pilates these days to stay injury free.


In fact, we have quite a few men who come to our classes and they end up loving it.



So, let me tell you why Pilates is good for back pain.


Pilates requires you to focus on how your body moves so you learn to move well. It also requires you to focus on specific muscles in your body when holding positions and when moving during an exercise.


Pilates also has a big emphasis on the correct posture whether you are standing, sitting, laying or kneeling, which is why it is great, as it allows you to transfer what you learn in class in to everyday activities. This results in you moving better and will mean you will get less pain.


Another benefit of Pilates is relaxation. Pilates will help reduce any tension in the stress-carrying muscles (in other words your back!) The breathing emphasis in Pilates also helps improve your back mobility as locked up tight stomach muscles will stop you breathing properly and will stop your trunk and spine moving well too. I know this one all too well!


I work on my stomach muscle movement and flexibility and breathing properly daily and bingo my low back pain and stiffness feels ten times better!


For people who struggle with low back pain and aches, stretching and moving your body is important. Stretching tight muscles in your legs will help improve your flexibility in your back and hips which in turn will take the strain and stress off your back.


Movement in general increases blood flow and healing nutrients so this can only be a good thing right! Yes right!


So, there you have it my recipe for exercise when you have a bad back. Gentle walks and Pilates.


IF you want any tips for easing back pain, here’s a special free report with 7 top tips to help you keep active with less back pain. Just click the link to get your free copy:  http://www.wdcphysio.wpenginepowered.com/physiotherapy/back-pain/


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About Wendy McCloud

Wendy is the founder of The South East’s Leading Specialist Private Physiotherapy Practice for People in their 40’s, 50’s and 60’s, who want to keep healthy and active.

Wendy’s background includes working as an Extended Scope Practitioner Physiotherapist working as part of Mr. Ali Al-Sabti’s Orthopaedic Consultant’s team specialising in Shoulder Pain.

Wendy has treated royalty for Shoulder pain through referrals from her close links with a top Orthopaedic Shoulder Surgeons. More recently Wendy has been the sole choice physiotherapist for all Essex based referrals from London Shoulder surgeon Mr. Matthew Sala.

Wendy worked in National Level Rugby Union for 11 years, working with players who achieved county honours and representative honours for various countries such as England, Samoa, Australia and New Zealand. Wendy resigned from her position as Head Physiotherapist at Southend RFC in June 2011 to open WDC which has become the fastest growing clinic in the South East of England.

WDC is now a large multi-therapist speciality practice in Southend-on-Sea, Essex.

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Wendy founded WDC in September 2006. She has worked in both the public and private sectors. Within the NHS, Wendy worked as a Senior Musculoskeletal Physiotherapist and an Extended Scope Practitioner Physiotherapist as part of an Orthopaedic Consultant’s team specialising in Shoulder Pain. Wendy has treated royalty for Shoulder pain through referrals from her close links with a top Orthopaedic Shoulder Surgeon. More recently, Wendy has been the sole choice physiotherapist for all Essex-based referrals from London Shoulder surgeon Mr Matthew Sala. Wendy also worked within the national rugby union as the head physiotherapist for Southend Rugby Football Club. She led the medical service at the club for 11 years, working with players who achieved county honours and representative honours for various countries such as England, Samoa, Australia, and New Zealand.
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