Easing back into it

Supporting your musculoskeletal well-being.

Staying home during lockdown has kept millions of us safe from COVID-19 but has sparked a secondary epidemic of its own: lockdown back pain. Poor home working set-ups, reduced movement and stress are inevitably a disastrous cocktail for our musculoskeletal wellbeing, but a staggering 63% have reported to have injured their back, neck, hips, knees or wrists as a result of poor homeworking practices.

Our kitchen tables and sofas were never intended to be work-stations and hunching over our laptops day in day out has taken its toll. Changes to exercise routines, reduced movement and stress have likely all played their part as well. Back pain is certainly not exclusive to the pandemic though; it is an extraordinarily common burden for many of us. A third of the UK adult population, suffers at some point, every year, from back pain.

As we get back to gyms, classes and hopefully a more normal way of life over the next few weeks and months, how can we keep ourselves healthy and pain free, and how can Health Insurance help?

Keep Moving

Sedentary lifestyles are the enemy when it comes to back pain, and when your ‘office’, ‘canteen’ and ‘commute’ are all within the four walls of your home, your step count can barely hit the hundreds, let alone 10,000. Sitting for more than six hours a day can seriously increase your risk of back pain, but luckily small but frequent movements can reverse the effects. Stand up to back pain! Keeping moving is one of the most reliable weapons in your armoury against back pain. If you work at a desk, ensure you stand at least every hour and wriggle and stretch in your chair as much as possible. It will have much more impact than you can imagine.

Stay Hydrated

A drink of water isn’t a magic cure for all your aches and pains but staying hydrated is an important soldier in the war on back pain. Drinking at least eight glasses/nearly two litres of water a day (more if you’re exercising, sweating or in the sun) helps to keep your muscles and spine healthy. Water keeps the spinal discs full of fluid so they can cushion the spine during movement. Water also prevents excess build-up of lactic acid in your muscles, which can cause them to become inflamed and tight and consequently compress nerves.

Breathe

Sitting at a desk, with stress levels high and activity levels low, it can be very easy to resort to shallow breathing through your mouth. Consciously aiming to breathe through your nose and take time out during your day to slow your breathing, can help back pain in a few ways. Nasal breathing forces us to use the diaphragm more to expand the lungs and draw air into them. The diaphragm is a huge part of your core, so activating and using it can keep it strong and supporting your back. Deep, intentional breathing can also help to expel tension which may be held in the muscles and cause issues in your back.

Massage

Massage can work wonders for pain relief and relaxation in sore muscles, but it doesn’t have to be restricted to a massage therapist. Lockdown has taught us to do more things for ourselves at home and massage can be one of them. Massage balls can reduce pain and improve range of motion by targeting trigger points in the myofascial system. Perfect for knots and tight areas, they can reduce muscle tension, improve blood flow and aid in injury rehabilitation. If you need some more power to your massage, handheld massage guns can also help, by repeatedly impacting the soft tissue they can increase blood flow to the area. Physiotherapists can also offer exercises and massage techniques for you to practice at home, to supplement treatments in the clinic.

Complimentary Therapies

Physiotherapy isn’t the only treatment option available. Have you tried treatment from a chiropractor, osteopath, or even an acupuncture session? Back pain can really get in the way of enjoying life and whilst most people tend to leave booking a treatment until it’s really bad, regular appointments can maintain your overall physical health and make sure it doesn’t get to that stage. Most Private Medical Insurance policies will include an option for complimentary therapies to be covered as part of your policy.

A study by Nurofen in October 2020, uncovered that 36% of British people have reported an increase in pain since the beginning of lockdown. ‘Low back pain is a major problem throughout the world and it is getting worse—largely because of the ageing and increasing world population.’ The Lancet

Back pain is the largest single cause of disability in the UK, with lower back pain alone accounting for 11% of the total disability of the UK population. Referrals for spinal surgery are increasing year on year and a growing number of patients are waiting longer than 18 weeks from referral to treatment. Prevention and cure can both be supported with access to private medical treatment. Providing affordable, regular access to a wide range of treatments, from acupuncture to surgery, without delay.

To find out more about how health insurance can help you be proactive about supporting your health, speak to one of our expert advisers today for free advice and a no obligation quote. Just fill in the short form below.

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