SEVEN STEPS TO DEVELOPING THE PRACTICE OF DEEP BREATHING ON A DAILY BASIS FOR YOUR HEALTH…

Here is a great infographic from Develop Good Habits which I found on Pinterest and which explains in simple terms a seven-step process on how to develop the practice of deep breathing on a daily basis, something I think we could all benefit from during this COVID-19 outbreak.

SELF DIAGNOSING BACK PAIN…

The most common type of back pain that people suffer from is often acute back pain. This is pain that’s severe and happens out of nowhere, or at least it seems that way. In reality, there’s often a trigger that caused the pain, and you’ll be able to remedy the problem once you figure out what it is.

Chronic back pain, however, is recurrent and can last for weeks or months, and sometimes even longer. It’s usually related to diseases such as osteoporosis, degenerative disc disease, etc. The severity of your back pain usually dictates whether you’ll see a doctor or not. Most people with mild back pain, tend to just wait things out and rest. While this is understandable, if the pain is nagging and doesn’t go away, you must see a doctor as soon as possible so that any possible problems can be treated in the early stages, before it turns into some chronic.

SUDDEN ONSET OF BACK PAIN…

If you have sudden onset back pain, this could be due to an injury or a fall, or a strain. In some cases, the pain may only show up a day after the event, so you may have forgotten about it.

For example, if you strained your back while moving the couch, your lower back may start to throb or hurt a day later. By then you may have forgotten about the couch and be wondering why your back hurts. So, you’ll need to think back.

This is just one example. Working out at the gym, braking suddenly while driving, or even bumps to the back can cause back pain. In these cases, some pain killers and rest will suffice.

Usually, lifting heavy objects or twisting your trunk may cause sudden onset back pain. The facet joints get temporarily out of alignment and this will cause the joint to get inflamed. The surrounding soft tissues and muscles will get swollen and hurt. You may need to see a doctor.

GRADUAL ONSET OF BACK PAIN…

Another type of back pain is one that starts gradually. Sciatica is one such issue. If you have pain that’s located between your lower back and glutes, you might be suffering from ankylosing spondylitis. Pregnant women whose backs are strained will also display similar symptoms.

Another serious gradual onset of back pain arises when there is inflammation in the sacroiliac joints. In cases like these, you must see a doctor. Numbness around your back and buttocks, loss of bladder control, pain during bowel movements, etc. are all signs of back issues that require professional medical attention.

CHRONIC BACK PAIN…

With these types of back pain, it may seem like there’s no cause. The pain may come and go away. It’s episodic, recurrent and not as severe as acute back pain.

Usually, chronic back pain arises due to poor posture that takes a toll on the joints and muscles over time. Correcting your posture will remedy the problem. It could also be due to ageing, where your joints suffer wear and tear.

If the pain is persistent or worsens, there may be inflammation. It’ll be best to see a doctor.

These are the 3 types of back pain that generally affect most people. What you really need to know is that when assessing your pain, you must be honest with yourself. If the pain is getting worse, do not bury your head in the sand and expect it to go away. Keep a diary so you can explain in detail about your pain should you need to see a GP.

WHAT’S ALL THE BUZZ ABOUT PAIN AND NEUROMODULATION…

Harvard Health Publishing wrote that “ Chronic pain is an enigma for both pain doctors and their patients: difficult to understand (as everyone’s pain is different), challenging to treat effectively, and frustrating to live with. Desperate patients sometimes turn to drastic and irreversible surgical procedures, like amputating nerves to relieve pain, and unfortunately even those procedures may fail to provide the hoped-for results.”

Fortunately there have been great strides in research related to pain perception and our nervous system’s reaction to various pain treatments, and we’ve been able to develop novel devices that provide many people with much-needed relief and improve their quality of life.

Neuromodulation is “the alteration of nerve activity through targeted delivery of a stimulus, such as electrical stimulation or chemical agents, to specific neurological sites in the body.” Dr. Norman Shealy, a neurosurgeon, implanted the first device for the relief of intractable pain in 1967, and his work ushered in a new era for chronic pain management.

One of the most common examples of neuromodulation is the use of spinal cord stimulation (SCS) for chronic pain management. SCS consists of a very thin lead (or wire) that is placed in the space just outside the spinal cord (known as the epidural space). The lead is attached to a small generator device that is implanted under the skin and subcutaneous layer in the back or buttock. The devices will deliver frequent, low-voltage electrical impulses to the spine, with subsequent modulation of the pain signals in transit to the brain. Those impulses often feel like a gentle tingling or buzzing (which is called paresthesia) on the body.

Harvard explain that another form of neuromodulation is the intrathecal pump, which is a device designed to deliver a desired medication directly into the spinal fluid surrounding the spinal cord.

Neuromodulation treatments have typically been offered to patients only after they have tried conventional treatment options such as medications, physical and occupational therapy, or surgery. Although the treatment is not without risks it is a cost affective option for managing chronic pain, in particular after failed surgery,

Guy’s & St. Thomas’ NHS Hospital in London have a Chronic Pain Management & Neuromodulation Centre. It is internationally recognised as a centre of clinical and academic excellence in the management of chronic pain.

They have a long history of providing traditional chronic pain management treatments such as day case procedures and outpatient treatments.

They have also established world prominence in the fields of spinal cord stimulation and other neuromodulation techniques, as well as in addressing the psychological, physical and social impacts of chronic pain with our pain management programmes. This is delivered through the INPUT pain management department.

The centre collaborates closely with spinal surgeons in the assessment and treatment of spinal pains, and similarly provides highly specialised, multidisciplinary assessments for conditions including chronic headache, facial pain and pelvic pain.

HOW TO IMPROVE YOUR POSTURE IN THE WORKPLACE…

Don’t ignore the warning signals if you feel stiff or sore, advises leading UK back-pain expert and ergonomist Nichola Adams, who offers you her 6 Top Tips on how to sit with the correct posture, wherever you are working.

As an ergonomist, my consultancy work takes me all over the country. I’ve spent the past 14 years travelling the UK, advising around 3,000 individuals and hundreds of British businesses on how they can minimise their risk of back injury in the workplace.

My role in the corporate sector, supporting both companies and individual employees, often involves me assessing people’s posture at work and I’m usually asked to conduct a formal Ergonomic Workstation Assessment to check whether someone’s workstation and chair are set up to support a healthy posture. This is so important when we are sitting down for hours at a time at our computers, to avoid tension and pain build-up and to keep our backs healthy.

As you may imagine, I’ve witness some pretty harrowing set-ups, meeting people who are blissfully unaware that their posture, seating arrangements and furniture are pretty much ‘an injury waiting to happen’.


Whether you are working from home or at your office, it is very important to maintain a healthy posture, especially if you are working for more than an hour or two.

The same rules and guidance apply whether you are working at your computer or your laptop: and the buzz words of the moment are “Motion is Lotion!”

My work involves advising employers on the risks of back injury in the workforce and how this can affect a company’s performance. I often say to people I meet: “Your next posture is the best posture!”. In other words, just keep moving.

When you have a sensitive back or a back injury, you also need to reduce the amount of time that you are adopting a bad posture and increase the amount of time that you are adopting a healthy posture.

This is because assuming the correct posture supports recovery from any back issues you may have, allowing oxygen and nutrients to reach your tissues and muscles.

So, here are my 6 Top Tips on How to Improve your Posture at your Workstation…

1. Avoid slouching by moving your screen up: The main cause of back tension build-up that I witness is people being slouched over their screens or laptops. Don’t be a ‘Slouched Potato’. When you are using your laptop, always try to raise the screen so that it’s closer to your eye height. Avoid slouching down over it. Instead, raise your screen up on something and use a separate keyboard and mouse. With a laptop, in essence you are trying to adapt it so that it is similar to a desktop computer set-up. With a desktop screen, you should raise it up to eye-level height and bring your keyboard and mouse close up to the front of your desk so that you are not having to extend your arms forward when using them.

Don’t be a ‘Slouched Potato’.

2. Adapt your desk to suit you, never vice versa: Take a fresh look at the whole of your desk set-up. The rules are that screens should be about arm-distance away, that your keyboard and mouse should be close to the front of your desk and that your chair should be nice and close to the front of the desk, too. What we are trying to achieve is that everything is close to you and you are not reaching or leaning forward to use them. You should adapt your desk to suit you, and not adapt to suit it.

Re-examine your chair set-up.

3. Re-examine your chair set-up: First of all, you should raise the height of your seat so that your arms are level with the desk and that you are not reaching up or reaching down to use your keyboard. If that means that your feet are raised off the floor, then use a footrest. The second most important thing is that your lower back curve is properly supported at the right height and depth to suit your body, so adjust the lumbar support of your chair accordingly or use a cushion. Once you have made this important adjustment, this will also discourage you from slouching and will make you feel like you are properly supported.

Take a break at the water cooler.

4. Take a break at the water cooler or stand up for phone calls: Listen to your body when you feel uncomfortable because it’s your body telling you that it is time to move. At the very least, you should be moving once an hour. Even just standing up is good as the physical act of standing gets everything moving through your body. The flow of blood and nutrients will nourish your discs and muscles. Optimally, I would try to take a breather every 20 minutes. But even if you’re just taking a standing break for a minute or two, just the act of standing is beneficial. Some clever tricks for remembering to do this include standing up whenever you are on the phone; or remembering to drink lots of water, which means having to wander over to the water cooler or bathroom. Then rest breaks will also help your hydration. Even better, take your laptop or papers over to a higher surface so that you can stand while you are looking at your screen. Just try and break things up.

Stroll round your office for exercise.

5.     Stroll on! Take regular exercise: Always try to build in some regular exercise into your working day. Get off one stop early if you are commuting to work and walk the last section to your office. The same on the journey home. Take a lunchtime stroll. If you can’t get out, you could even take a short stroll around your office. When you’re working from home, unfortunately the temptation is just to sit down and start working, then to work all day and forget to exercise. So be extra-strict with yourself and make sure that you take a break, for example at lunchtime. Just get up and go for a walk around your home or, better still, get outside for a bit and soak in some valuable Vitamin D, too.

6. Breathe deeply to lower your stress levels: Don’t forget to breathe as breathing can really help us to reduce our stress levels. It can also help us to re-focus. So, take a few moments out of your busy day to remember to take some deep breaths. It’s not always easy to remember, so set your watch on a timer. Then do some deep breathing. The routine that works for me is to take a deep breath IN, for a count of four beats, and then exhale that deep breath OUT slowly for a count of eight beats. That helps me to re-energise my brain and body. I recommend it to you, it is quite invigorating!

Take a moment to breathe deeply.

In summary, if you stay static, adopting a poor posture for too long, your body will tell you what’s wrong immediately. 

Your body will start to feel sore and stuff. This amounts to an oxygen depletion in your body, which is sending signals to your brain that you need to move. 

So, take note of these signs: watch your posture and move whenever you can. Listen to your body, stretch up and upright as often as you can and keep moving.

And above all, don’t ignore the warning signals.

Combining the Greek words ‘ergon’ (meaning ‘work’) and ‘nomoi’ (meaning ‘natural laws’), ergonomics is the science of making products and tasks comfortable and efficient for human use.

· Nichola Adams, MSc Health Ergonomics, Tech CIEHF (Technical Member of The Chartered Institute of Ergonomics and Human Factors), Reg Member ACPOHE (The Association of Chartered Physiotherapists in Occupational Health and Ergonomics), is one of the UK’s leading back-pain experts and the Founder of Inspired Ergonomics (inspiredergonomics.com)

Pictures : Giles Barnard

FOR ME PERSONALLY, PERCKO IS THE BEST POSTURE TOP BY FAR…

PERCKO is a French Company who sell three different types of posture tops to help correct your posture and relieve back pain. Their website states their posture tops have given 50,000+ users less back pain. Just reading their story on their website of how it all started inspires you to give this product a try.They say that you will get benefit from day one of wearing one of their posture tops. They have three different tops to choose from, LYNE UP is for daily life, LYNE FIT is for sporting activities and LYNE PRO is ideal for manual activities or gardening.

As my readers will have seen from my previous posts I was given the LYNE UP posture top which they state is for daily life but I found the top to tight and uncomfortable but I did explain that maybe they were not designed for ladies who are top heavy. It was suggested I tried the LYNE PRO which they say is ideal for manual activities or gardening.

The fit of this posture top was much better with a seat belt like fasten at the front. You can immediately feel your shoulders being straightened when you put this top on. My worst shoulder arms and neck pain comes on quite quickly if I am at my desk blogging or making cards so I was hoping this would help.

It is quite amazing the difference it makes to my pain. I’ve had two spinal neck fusions so I’m pretty restricted on how low I can look down but wearing this posture top has meant I can quite happily sit at my desk for quite a while before I need to give it a rest or move around. I can now gets lots done in a morning or afternoon which would have taken me days before.

Whenever I’m doing housework I pop this posture top on as dusting and hoovering involves moving your neck around lots so this helped with this job as well. With my back problems I won’t be doing any gardening or manual activities but I’m sure it would work amazing for that. I cannot thank PERCKO enough for letting me try out this posture top.

PERCKO have kindly offered my readers a promo code backpainblog that will give 15% off to anyone who purchases a posture top from them :).