Back awareness week

If you have a bad back, you don’t need an awareness week as unfortunately it is ever present in your consciousness. However, we now seem to have special days and weeks that are celebrated that I don’t remember from my dim and distant childhood – was there ever a Grandparent’s Day? This time I am reminding you that it is Back Care Awareness Week from 4 – 10 October 2008 and its theme and focus is ‘staying positive and believing that’you can do it’.

Given that 52% of the population now gets back pain – a 5% increase on last year – a positive attitude seems to be definitely called for. You now have full permission to stow the vacuum cleaner as the most common causes of bad backs apparently are spring cleaning and housework. As Quentin Crisp famously observed ‘There is no need to do any housework at all. After the first four years the dirt doesn’t get any worse.’ You may feel that’s a bit extreme but as a principle I could get excited about it.

More worrying is the fact that a recent study found that between 13% and 50% of teenagers have already had episodes of back pain and as many as two in every class of 15-18 year olds experience back pain on a recurrent or chronic basis. It’s apparently a combination of too much time in front of a computer, not enough physical activity and the increasing ‘couch potato’ syndrome. There are many options for the management and prevention of back pain and the earlier you seek help then the better it is. Back pain as well as physically causing immobilization, can cause many people to feel trapped by back pain. Even something simple like getting in or out of a car can become an enormous and painful challenge, so much so, that some people stop doing it and become housebound. This can lead to a downward spiral of pain, depression, lack of self-belief and negative feelings about your ability to lead a normal life. It is a ‘can do’ attitude that the back awareness week wants to promote to counter this.

Personally I am a big fan of chiropractic, particularly McTimoney which is less invasive and bone cracking than the more widely known osteopathic practices. There are plenty of events going on around the country, kicking off with a major exhibition at Olympia. If you would like to now more then visit the website at

Three minutes a day for a better back

Suffering from back pain and poor posture is sadly all too frequent these days. We spend a lot of time sitting for long periods, whether at a computer or in front of a television and what our back needs is gentle and regular stretching and exercise.

Visiting a chiropracter is essential for serious or chronic back problems, but if you want a simple, preventive routine then the British Chiropractic Association have devised a three minute daily stretching routine that will improve your posture and strengthen your spine. The exercises have delightful names like Twirling Star, Humming Bird and Butterfly – or if you are feeling a little more warrior-like there is also Extending the Sword and Tightrope.

They also offer you some good advice, like checking the weight of your bag or briefcase and dumping any unnecessary items out and implementing the ten minute rule – if it takes less than that to walk, then do so and leave the car at home.

To get your copy call the British Chiropractic Association on 0118 950 5950 or download a copy straight from the web, it’s only a couple of A4 pages at and click on the downloads link. There are two leaflets, one for adults and one for children, just click on the one you want, print it out and off you go on your way to a healthier back.