Healing Hands Around Earth Distant Healer, Philip Chave, Spiritual Healer. Sharing the healing experience online since 2003. Phil Chave, healer, therapist and counsellor
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Back Pain: Facts and Solutions for Backache, Neck Pain, Scoliosis, Sciatica and Lumbago

Lifting tips to prevent backache and spinal injury



Pain - it's all in the head!... .. . But, so is the solution!
If you've ever suffered from chronic back pain or been off work for a week or two with acute back pain, you are in the company of around 5 million other sufferers in the UK annually who are forced to consult their GP about back pain or a related condition. This article is about developing a positive attitude toward lifting and shifting, and helping yourself to understand the back and it's limitations. A number of useful tips and advice for providing support, and to keep you in tune with your body.

Oh, yes.....and the pain thing? Well, pain is controlled by the brain. "Pain" is the body's own self defence mechanism, pinpointing an injury site so that you pay attention to it, protect it, and prevent further damage. Our bodies send a signal from the site of the injury to our brains, which responds by organizing the delivery of appropriate pain relieving chemicals and tissue repair products.

What kind of conditions are caused, or can cause, back strain?
Height/Weight ratio: If you are above the recommended weight for your height, losing weight can have a significant impact on reducing the strain you place on your back muscles. Back pain most commonly affects the lower, lumbar region of the spine. This is normally due to excessive strain on the muscles, ligaments and small joints of the skeleton. Quite often overweight people are also unfit, and have poor muscle tone, which puts them at increased risk, over and above having to support a heavier load. Remember: Putting on Weight is a Pain in the Back.

Rheumatoid Arthritis: This is an inflammatory disease which causes the synovial membrane linings in the joints to become thickened, inflamed and to produce excess synovial fluid leading to redness, stiffness, swelling and pain. Areas of inflammation cause bone to become worn and distorted. When trying to deal with pain in other areas, sufferers often lose site of how distorted they have become, and twisting awkwardly to avoid injury transfers the strain to the back, usually the lower back, with obvious consequences.

Sciatica: Sciatica causes, sometimes mild, but more often severe pain in the buttock, and down the back of one leg. This is the result of the sciatic nerve being compressed or damaged, usually at the vertebral level, by a prolapsed (slipped) intervertebral disc, which presses on the root of the sciatic nerve where it joins the spinal cord. There are two sciatic nerves, left and right, but usually sciatica only affects one leg at a time. Sometimes, in serious cases, it can affect both legs.

Back Facts: The Business of Backs
  • 80% of citizens will suffer some kind of back pain in their lives
  • In 85% of these, the primary site of back pain will be the lower back
  • Back pain is the second most common medical complaint, after the common cold
  • Back injuries cause an estimated 180 million lost days of work annually
  • Over 400,000 people in the UK receive Social Security payments for back injury
  • In the UK, 1.1 million people are disabled by back pain
  • The direct health care costs of back pain sufferers in the UK (1988) was over 1,500 million
  • Bending and lifting is the number one cause of serious back problems
  • Depression is often a major problem for people with chronic back pain
Back to Basics: Back Tips to Prevent Back Strain
Lifting Techniques: Examples of lifting include: Shopping, dustbin, washing basket, making the bed, children, vacuuming the stairs.
  • Never lift anything you don't have to
  • Never lift a box or container without first finding out what's inside it. Don't rely on the picture on the box
  • Check the size of the container and ascertain it's likely weight
  • Know where you are going with the load and check your path will be clear
  • Never be afraid to ask for help
  • Use a trolley, wheelbarrow or other mechanical device to transport loads
  • Stand square to the load and as close as is comfortable. Don't over reach and pull it toward you
  • Stand stable with your feet apart and solidly on the floor
  • Bend your knees to reach the load. Never bend forward at the waist (you'll take all the extra weight on your lumbar area)
  • Lift the load using the power of your legs
  • Never twist your body to the side when lifting, or lowering
  • Once you have the load, face the direction of your movement. Do not twist at the hips
Carrying Techniques: Examples of carrying include: Groceries, furniture, hot saucepans, laundry, luggage, children.
  • Wear sensible footwear to prevent slipping or tripping
  • Maintain a firm hold on the object
  • Keep the load close to your body
  • Don't twist
  • Look ahead to ensure your way is clear
  • Bend your knees when picking up and putting down again
  • Suitcases or bags that can't be divided should be switched from side to side. Not by swinging the load around to the other hand, but by putting down and picking up again
  • Stop frequently to rest and take note of what's going on with your back
  • Use a shopping trolley whenever possible
Carrying/Moving Heavy Objects: Examples of moving heavy objects include: Moving furniture (including sliding), changing a car tyre, mowing the lawn
  • Don't move what you don't have too, get help whenever possible
  • Use a trolley, wheelbarrow or other mechanical device if possible
  • Stand squarely to the object
  • Maintain a firm hold on the object
  • Bend your knees to give you power. Use your legs to push or pull
  • Never jerk a load to get it moving. Use firm steady pressure
Sitting: Examples of sitting include: Reading a book, eating a meal, computing, driving, watching TV.
  • Sit comfortably in the chair, so that you feel fully supported
  • Adjust the chair for your position or comfort
  • Distribute your weight evenly
  • Don't sit twisted or leaning to one side or the other
  • Feet should touch the floor. Use a cushion or platform if not
  • Avoid sitting with a wallet in your back pocket. It can force the sacrum out of alignment or encourage you to sit at an angle to relieve the pressure
  • Don't allow yourself to become locked in the sitting position. Get up and move around often
Ironically, forty percent more weight is placed on the spine when you are sitting as opposed to standing. So sitting for prolonged periods is not the best thing to do for your back.

Standing for long periods: Examples of standing include: Waiting in a queue, showering, waiting for a bus, washing dishes, ironing.
  • Change position frequently. Shifting your weight from one leg to the other
  • Relieve the pressure on one leg at a time by resting it on a step, stool, or position one foot 'ballet' style, to keep your balance
  • Stand on a rubber mat or carpet
  • Wear sensible footwear, avoiding high heels
  • Pay attention to your posture
  • Try not to strain arch your back, especially when looking up. Fatigue will quickly set in
Sleeping or Lying: Examples include: In bed, on a therapist's couch, settee or floor.
  • Change position frequently. Shifting from left to right. This avoids the spine straining, especially on an old mattress
  • Get appropriate advice about whether you need a soft or a firm mattress.
  • Firming up a mattress is easy, place a board underneath it
  • Don't sit up from lying down by squeezing your tummy muscles, unless you are used to this movement
  • To get out of bed, roll to the side, pull knees up, swing legs over the edge and push up with both arms. When sitting at the side of the bed it should be possible to just stand up
Kneeling or Bending: Examples of kneeling and bending include: Gardening, washing floor, finding lost items, dressing, playing with children.
  • Bend your hips and knees, NOT your back
  • Pay attention to your back if bending or kneeling. Check for signs of pulling, pain and squelching, or unexplained clicks
  • Over weight people can strain their back when kneeling because the spine is forced to sag
  • Consider using a reach grab (like the park keepers litter tool) for picking things up
  • Consider using a long handle trowel, fork or rake, rather than bending.
  • Scrape or sweep multiple items into a pile, then, if light enough, pick them all up at once
  • Use both your knees and one hand and establish a 'tripod' to support yourself when working
Reaching: Examples of reaching include: Hanging out the washing, changing a light bulb, washing windows, making the bed, fetching from the top shelf of a cupboard, painting, lopping trees.
  • Make sure you are on a firm floor
  • Do not over-reach
  • Use steps, ladder or scaffolding to allow you to work at a height that avoids reaching too far
  • Position yourself so that you are close to your work
  • Use long handles tools to avoid straining, such as for paint rollers or when dusting
  • Keep both feet firmly on the ground or step of your ladder. Don't over-reach so that you have to balance on one foot
Use Easy Reach Tools: Many hardware shops now sell long handled tools. Examples of their use includes: Sweeping with a brush, raking the lawn, digging, lopping, window washing, mopping.
  • Choose good quality, light-weight tools
  • Make sure you are standing squarely to the work, feet apart and in a stable posture
  • Hold the handle close to your body, so that you aren't unbalanced by leverage
  • Never over-reach, twist or use your trunk or back to apply pressure to a tool. Unbalanced twisting is a major cause of back injury
  • Some tools are dual purpose and have long handles that screw into shorter tools such as paint rollers, dusting mops or long handled dustpan and brush
  • Use your legs to give you power, not your back
Driving: Examples of driving aids that are available include: Lumbar rolls, cushions, wedges, heated seating The Vertebral Column
  • Always wear your seatbelt
  • Use any of the above accessories to make your driving position easier and more comfortable
  • Make sure you are able to adjust the seat in any position, vertically or horizontally, for comfort, and correct placement
  • Make sure your lower back is supported squarely in the seat. Badly designed or broken car seats are a major cause of postural distortion in a car, mainly because you can't adjust the wheel or pedals to accommodate the new seat position. What does alter, is YOU!
  • Avoid sitting with a wallet in your back pocket. It can force the sacrum out of alignment or encourage you to sit at an angle to relieve the pressure
  • On long journeys, stop regularly to move and stretch as often as you can
  • If you have back problems or get regular attacks, give some thought to an automatic car
  • Use your mirrors (interior and exterior) to full advantage, to avoid twisting
  • Use the local car wash. Swishing a soapy mop around, and up, and under, is no job for a matchstick back. (You can probably tell, I'm talking from experience now!)
Unfortunately, in this country, addiction to painkillers is becoming a tragic side effect of persistent back pain and failed back surgery. To cope with extreme back pain, doctors are prescribing large doses of addictive painkillers and patients are finding themselves having to "kick a habit" they never dreamed they could fall victim to.

There is another irony of English law that deals with Health and Safety for children. When I was at my first school, I had my own desk, then, when I went up to the big school, we moved from class to class, so we all had lockers to keep our books and PE kit in. That meant I didn't have to lug heavy bags backwards and forwards to school every day. For whatever reason, probably to save money, lockers seem to have disappeared in many schools. Not surprisingly, back problems among the young showed a sharp increase which continues to get worse. The law protects adults from having to lift heavy loads at work - but says nothing about children carrying heavy bags to and from, or around, school.

If you have had major or minor back problems for any length of time, and you've tried everything else, perhaps you may like to try Spinal Touch Therapy. I'm a fully qualified Spinal Touch Therapist and run a busy practice here at The Haven Healing Centre. If you would like to know more about Spinal Touch Treatment Options, please go here. Appointments are available if you are within travelling distance, or you may prefer to find a practitioner in your own area.

The benefits of exercise are well documented and accepted within the medical community. In addition, it has been suggested that increased levels of fitness may reduce an individual's risk for developing low back pain and spinal injury. People who are fit tend to recover from injuries more quickly than those who are not active physically. It is a good idea to develop strength in the abdominal and back muscles as when properly exercised, these muscles form a 'brace' which protects the spine, and in particular, the lower vertebrae, from stress and strain.


The Exercise in a Chair program CD
Gentle Armchair Exercises
The Healing Garden Meditation CD
Creating the Perfect Healing Space
Pre and Post-operative Surgery Help & Healing CD
The Exercise in a Chair Program CD by Philip Chave The Healing Garden Meditation CD by Philip Chave The Surgery Assistance CD by Philip Chave



All These Areas Are Within Easy Reach of The Haven Healing Centre, Blagdon, Bristol
Abbots Leigh, Ashwick, Avonmouth, Axbridge, Babington, Backwell, Badgworth, Bagley, Banwell, Barrow Gurney, Bason Bridge, Bath, Beckington, Berrow, Biddisham, Bishop Sutton, Bitton, Blackford, Blagdon, Bleadon, Bleadney, Bradford-on-Avon, Brean, Brent Knoll, Bristol, Burnham-on-Sea, Burrington, Butcombe, Cameley, Catcott, Chantry, Chapel Allerton, Cheddar, Chelwood, Chew Magna, Chew Stoke, Chilcompton, Churchill, Clapton, Claverham, Claverton, Cleeve, Clevedon, Clutton, Cocklake, Coleford, Compton Bishop, Compton Dando, Compton Martin, Congresbury, Coxley, Cranmore, Cross, Downhead, Draycott, Dundry, Dunkerton, East Brent, East Harptree, East Huntspill, Easton-in-Gordano, Edithmead, Emborough, Englishcombe, Evercreech, Failand, Farmborough, Farrington Gurney, Felton, Flax Bourton, Freshford, Frome, Glastonbury, Godney, Green Ore, Gurney Slade, Highbridge, Highbury, High Littleton, Hinton Blewett, Hutton, Inglesbatch, Kelston, Kenn, Kewstoke, Keynsham, Kilmersdon, Kingston Seymour, Langford, Litton, Locking, Long Ashton, Lower Weare, Loxton, Lympsham, Mark, Marksbury, Mells, Midsomer Norton, Monkton Combe, Nailsea, Nempnett Thrubwell, Nettlebridge, Newbury, Oldmixon, Paulton, Peasedown, Pensford, Pilton, Portishead, Prestleigh, Priddy, Priston, Pucklechurch, Pudlow, Puxton, Queen Charlton, Radstock, Redhill, Rickford, Ridgehill, Rodney Stoke, Rooks Bridge, Rowberrow, Saltford, Sandford, Shapwick, Shepton Mallet, Shipham, Sidcot, Somerton, Stanton Drew, Star, Staverton, St Georges, Stoke St Michael, Ston Easton, Stone Bridge, Stowey, Street, Temple Cloud, Tickenham, Timsbury, Trowbridge, Ubley, Weare, Wedmore, Wellow, Wells, West Harptree, West Horrington, Weston-Super-Mare, West Pennard, Whatley, Whitchurch, Winford, Winscombe, Wookey, Wraxall, Wrington, Yatton
For all enquiries please call Phil on: 01761 462722 Also you can: Email this page to a friend.


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Copyright  ©  Philip Chave 2003-www.distanthealer.co.uk -- www.thehavenhealingcentre.co.uk  All rights reserved.
DISCLAIMER: This information is not presented by a medical practitioner and is for educational and informational purposes only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read.

The Haven Healing Centre is located at: The Haven, Street End Lane, Blagdon, Bristol, BS40 7TW