Osteopath Expert James White Explains
Back pain can get in the way of everything from the first morning stretch to your office commute. Choosing the right mattress and other simple lifestyle changes could help reduce the irritating pain and eventually nip it in the bud.
What causes back pain?
Back pain is incredibly common, especially in middle age. Research shows it is one of the top reasons those 45 – 65 can lose mobility, making daily life challenging. “Several things can cause back pain, ranging from disc damage, muscle tightness, pinched nerves to arthritis. Though for many people, it is a lack of movement through their spine,” explains James, who treats clients with all levels of back pain. Some back pain can also be caused by underlying conditions such as fibromyalgia, which can cause widespread muscle pain and fatigue.
Symptoms of back pain
Experiencing back pain can be more than just an inconvenience; it’s often a signal from your body that something’s amiss. If back pain is becoming a part of your daily life, you might recognise some of these common symptoms:
Aggravated Pain with Movement: Ever notice a spike in pain when lifting something or bending over? This increase in discomfort can be a clear indicator of underlying back issues.
Persistent Ache, Regardless of Position: Whether you’re up and about or lying down for a rest, the pain seems to linger, suggesting that your back may need more attention.
Radiating Discomfort: It’s not just your back; the pain has a journey, often travelling from your back down to your buttocks, legs, or hips, indicating a possible nerve involvement.
Unusual Sensations in Lower Extremities: Numbness or a feeling of weakness in your legs or feet isn’t just peculiar; it can be a symptom pointing towards a significant back condition.
How can back pain impact your daily life?
Back pain can vary in intensity from mild and annoying to debilitating and severe. Depending on the severity of the individual’s pain, it can interfere with daily life differently. In some cases, back pain can “stop you enjoying life the way you want to”, says James. From not being able to jump out of bed in the morning to being able to exercise comfortably, back pain can zap the joy out of daily activities. This can sometimes lead to less movement, which can worsen problems. The good news is there are plenty of ways to reduce back pain, which can be easily implemented into your life straight away.
Let’s start with bedtime, as, after all, we do spend a third of our lives sleeping – we might as well make it as comfortable and supportive as possible.
What is the best mattress for back pain?
According to James, “The best mattress for anyone is one that combines the two qualities of comfort and support. Being soft enough so the individual feels comfortable, but at the same time being supportive enough to provide orthopaedic support for the spine during the whole night.”
When it comes to soft enough, every sleeper is different. Some sleepers prefer a firmer mattress, such as memory foam, while some enjoy settling into a softer surface, such as pocket springs. The Hybrid Bamboo Mattress is the perfect option for those who like the best of both. This blends the most popular mattress fills, providing a full range of comfort and support.
The firmness rating of 7 suits most sleepers, while the combination of BioCell Foam™, OrthoAlign Foam™ and 1200 bespoke pocket springs optimise breathability, support and comfort in one mattress. The orthopaedic grade memory foam allows the mattress to naturally contour to your sleeping position, keeping your spine and neck in perfect alignment.
Meanwhile, the seven zones of pocket springs relieve key pressure points; they also work to isolate movement, reducing waking in the night and providing comfort as individual as you are.
How do you find the right mattress for you?
Choosing a mattress is a big one; pick right, and it will be with you for at least ten years of comfortable sleep. It can seem overwhelming with the heaps of choice you can find when searching for mattresses online. The key is to choose one that suits your specific preferences; if you enjoy a cool sleep and struggle on Summer nights – look for thermoregulating, breathable fabrics like bamboo. Our Hybrid Bamboo Mattress is infused with fresh bamboo in the upper layer of foam, optimising airflow and breathability, while our removable bamboo cover regulates body temperature throughout the night.
As for support, if you prefer a firmer mattress, go for ratings that are seven or above and have a memory foam orthopaedic layer to provide sufficient support. For a softer surface, go for pocket springs, which can provide cushiony comfort for your joints and muscles. Making sure you are as comfortable as possible will ensure the best night’s sleep, further assisting with recovery and allowing your body to get the nourishing rest it needs. To ensure you find the best mattress, go for one with a free trial. This way, you can be sure you’ve found the perfect match before you commit.
What are some other lifestyle changes you can make to reduce back pain?
Bedtime sorted, the next thing to do is to look at simple day to day changes you can make that can help prevent and reduce back pain. Quite often, repetitive habits we are unaware of can cause back pain, such as sitting too long and not getting enough movement. To take the best care of your spine, James recommends the following:
Moving more – James explains that taking regular breaks from your desk to avoid muscles becoming stiff can help prevent pain. Try taking a ten-minute walk a few times throughout the day or even standing up and stretching every hour.
Strengthening the spine – There are specific exercises to improve the stability and strength of your spine that James recommends learning and implementing into your weekly routine.
Mobilising – James also suggests a range of mobilising movements you can do in the morning and evening to increase the range of motion and freedom through the joints of the spin.
Ergonomic Workspaces – For those spending long hours at a desk, an ergonomically designed workspace is crucial. Ensure that your chair supports the natural curve of your spine, your feet are flat on the ground, and your computer screen is at eye level. Ergonomic keyboards and mouse pads can also reduce strain.
Core Strengthening – Specifically focusing on core muscles can provide better support for your back. Simple exercises like planks, bridges, and abdominal crunches can be done at home to strengthen these vital muscles.
While back pain can be a debilitating experience, the power to alleviate it lies in a combination of informed choices and proactive lifestyle changes. Remember, selecting the right mattress is more than just a comfort choice; it’s a crucial step towards ensuring long-term spinal health and pain relief. However, don’t stop there. Embrace the journey towards a pain-free life by incorporating ergonomic practices, regular physical activity, and mindful habits into your daily routine. By making these adjustments, not only can you enhance the quality of your sleep but also improve your overall well-being. Take the first step today towards a more comfortable, active, and joyful life. Your back, and indeed your entire body, will thank you for it.