New consumer research from the BCA has found that two fifths (41%) of people have been prevented from exercising due to back or neck pain. Furthermore, a quarter (25%) of respondents reported their back or neck pain has deterred them from physical activity for up to a month, with a further 9% stating their back or neck pain has led to them avoiding exercise for over half a year. An unfortunate 34% felt it was exercise itself which triggered their pain.
To help people of all ages and fitness levels back pain-proof their work-out routines the BCA has developed these top tips:
• Know your equipment at the gym: When trying a new activity, it’s always best to make sure you ask your instructor how your equipment should be set up, and make sure it’s right for you. For example, if you’re cycling or spinning, you need to set your saddle and handlebar to the correct height so that you are in a comfortable position that isn’t putting tension on your neck or back
• Know your limits: Even professional athletes aren’t born ready, it takes time to build the intensity of your practice. If you try a new sport, or want to intensify your workout, it’s important to take a slow approach and not to push your body’s limits. It is always advisable to visit a professional who can assess your body’s capabilities and advise on a safe way of training based on your body’s limitations
• Warm up and cool down: Before starting any form of physical activity, you should warm up any muscle groups which might be affected whilst you exercise. If you use them without preparing them first, your muscles could get a shock, causing you pain which could have been prevented
• Reduce the impact: If a previous injury is causing you pain, adapt your exercise to reduce the impact on your joints and muscles. Activities such as swimming, walking or yoga can be less demanding on your body keeping your muscles mobile!
• Not all exercise is the same: The fittest of athletes will still find it difficult to adapt to a new sport, as each sport uses some muscle groups more than others. With this in mind, always approach a new activity with care and don’t assume that you can jump in at the deep end!
The British Chiropractic Association (BCA) recommends that, if you are experiencing pain for more than a few days then you seek professional help, as an undiagnosed problem could lead to longer-term problems if left untreated.