Back pain is so common that almost three out of four adults would have experienced it at least once in their lives.
It can come on suddenly or gradually; the pain can be sharp, stabbing, dull or radiate down your leg.
Some inflammatory and medical conditions, such as a slipped disc or sciatica (trapped nerve), can also lead to backaches.
Statistics from the United Kingdom show that one in five people with Covid-19 (as a result of SARS-CoV-2 Omicron viral variant infection) have back pain in the early stages of infection.
It could be due to all the coughing, sneezing and muscle contractions.
During my second attack of Covid-19 earlier this year (2023), I also suffered from lower back pain.
Although I was not coughing or sneezing, I was going to the toilet constantly for the runs.
The pain disappeared after two days of hot packs and ointments.
Not only does back pain impair your quality of life, it also affects your mobility and the type of work you can do.
The top occupations that lead to chronic back pain are nursing, surgery, dentistry, construction, vehicle repair, driving and anything that involves sitting for long hours.
Often, bad posture, combined with weak abdominal and back muscles, makes it worse.
Unfortunately, most people either self-medicate or pop painkillers to soothe their ache.
Very few actually do anything to stretch and strengthen their back muscles.
Worse yet, they don’t know the difference between the two!
Strengthening involves repeatedly contracting the muscle until it becomes tired, while stretching lengthens muscle tissue and helps increase flexibility.
By gaining flexibility, you can perform strength-building moves with greater range of movement, making the exercise more effective.
Without stretching, the muscles shorten and become tight.
And when you work the muscles hard, they can tear as they are weak and unable to extend all the way – a tight muscle is a weak muscle.
When you experience backache, contrary to what you may believe, you shouldn’t be completely resting in bed because that will only make it worse.
Try to stay active, even if it means just taking a light stroll.
On the other hand, you should scale back on strengthening exercises until the pain subsides.
Instead, you should be stretching your back daily to release the tightness and tension.
I’ve highlighted six easy (difficult for some) stretches in the gallery below to help with backaches.
Do try them out – slowly – and hold them for 30 seconds each.
Once the discomfort is manageable or subsides, then you can start on simple strengthening exercises.
If the pain persists or gets worse, stop and seek medical advice as you may need further intervention.
Revathi Murugappan is a certified fitness trainer who tries to battle gravity and continues to dance to express herself artistically and nourish her soul. For more information, email [email protected]. The information contained in this column is for general educational purposes only. Neither The Star nor the author gives any warranty on accuracy, completeness, functionality, usefulness or other assurances as to such information. The Star and the author disclaim all responsibility for any losses, damage to property or personal injury suffered directly or indirectly from reliance on such information.