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The dos and don'ts of back pain

The dos and don'ts of back pain

You’ve put your back out and you’re in agony. The first step is obviously to seek professional advice, but, according to the latest research, here’s what works and what doesn’t when it comes to getting relief.

DO exercise

stretching is good for bad back

Exercising when you can barely move off the sofa seems counterintuitive, but being active can reduce pain and improve physical function just as well as painkillers.

Exercises such as pilates and aerobics that strengthen, stretch or stabilise your core muscles—the ones around your middle—are good options. At the office, look at certain desk stretches that can encourage blood circulation and movement to your back even while you work.

A US study found that yoga and stretching also both brought benefits, while research from Israel found walking for 20-40 minutes two or three times a week helped.


DO practise mindfulness

mindfulness is good for bad back

New research from the Group Health Research Institute in the US found that adults with chronic lower back pain who underwent mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) were more likely to see improvement than those who stuck to their usual treatment.

MBSR involves increasing awareness and acceptance of what’s happening in the present moment, including stress and pain. Books, videos and online courses are available.


DO try osteopathy

osteopathy for bad back

According to research from the University of North Texas Health Science Centre, patients who’d suffered backache for at least three months had less pain and better function after
six sessions with an osteopath.

What’s more, the worst affected saw the most improvement.


DON'T take to your bed

back pain bed ridden advice

This was standard advice for decades—but not now.

Researchers evaluated 11 studies involving nearly 2,000 patients with acute lower-back pain and found that people told to rest in bed actually recovered about 30 percent less function than those who stayed active.


DON'T take paracetamol

paracetamol back pain

Research published in the British Medical Journal found that taking paracetamol for lower-back pain was no better than a placebo. Worse still, it could damage your liver.


Don't bother with insoles

insoles for back pain

Those cushioned inserts that slip into your shoes are supposed to realign your spine and reduce back pain. Alas, a review of all six available studies failed to show any benefit.

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