Worrying statistics from Mintel show that 2/5 of Britons across all age groups suffer from back pain – including 34% of 18-34 year-olds.
“Too much time sitting” has been blamed for the sharp increase in young people developing back pain – with our sedentary lifestyles and lack of sport leading to poor posture and weak muscle tone, which in turn leads to back pain. It’s a problem more and more personal trainers are hearing from their clients as they work out – and often used as an excuse to skip training. But how to avoid back pain, or alleviate it with exercise? Add these back-protecting tips to your personal training regime.
1. Think about your posture in the gym:
Working out on the machines and pumping iron may be seen as strengthening exercises, but if you’re posture is all wrong you could a) Be doing a much less effective workout and b) Do potential damage to your back. Speak to a personal trainer about how to sit or position your shoulders and back when using weights – your shoulders should not be hunched over, but the muscles in the back should be squeezed together and down.
2. Try core-strengthening classes
Core strengthening exercises will keep the muscles that support your back strong – preventing injury. Pilates,Yoga, Ballet, Zumba – all these classes are fantastic for strengthening core muscles and stretching out a tense back and shoulders.
3. Repair after a session
After an intense training session, be sure to give your back muscles a break – stretch them out properly, focusing on your neck, shoulders and arms as well as your legs. Take a long hot bath if your back is feeling tight, and if you work in an office, don’t slump – make sure your chair and desk is positioned correctly, to avoid tensing at work. Your chair should be positioned so your feet can sit comfortably under the desk, and your eyes should be in line with the top of the computer screen. Finally, put your shoulders back, and try and squeezer your core muscles whilst at your desk – giving yourself a workout and protecting your back in the bargain.