Why we’re in a back pain epidemic

  • Great feedback on this electro-magnetic back pain device
  • Why the most recent back pain stats are so extraordinary – it’s a ticking health time bomb
  • Could this muscle problem be the hidden cause of your pain?

Following on from my email on Wednesday I have more of your stories to share.

It’s one of the most rewarding aspects of writing this newsletter…

On a gloomy morning, I open my inbox…

And there are your emails, with loads of great suggestions for research, stories about your health experiences and sometimes just a lovely “Hello Ray!”

But best of all are when I see that products we research and recommend are out there working for people.

For instance, this week I received an email about Painsolv.

If you recall, I recently wrote about a pen-sized device which uses ‘pulsed electro-magnetic field technology’ (PEMF) to reduce pain.

It can help with backache, sciatica, frozen shoulder, repetitive strain injury (RSI), joint injuries, sprains, muscular cramp, arthritis, sports injuries, circulation problems, knee pain, period pain, painful jaw, foot or heel pain.

All you have to do is press a switch and apply it directly where it hurts. It encourages your body’s natural painkillers to begin to work. Over time this can also help damaged tissues repair themselves.

Anyway, one of my readers emailed me to say:

“I have had one of these Painsolv things for a couple of years, and I have to say that mine is really great. I have polymyalgia (similar to fibromyalagia) and when my aches get bad, this device really helps. Just in case anyone is wondering whether they work – well, mine does!”

Thanks so much for that.

If you’ve had a great experience with Painsolv, or any of the recommended therapies, then do write in and let me know.

A lot of emails I receive each week are from people looking to alleviate and control pain – even from younger readers.

The biggest of these problems seems to be chronic back pain.

Why these back pain stats are extraordinary

A survey in 2018 showed that an estimated 2.5 million British people get back pain every day, at the cost of £1 billion a year to the NHS!

Almost half of those surveyed reported that they’ve been having this pain for over five years.

Worryingly, this is only going to get worse…

You see, while over 60% of the over 55s in the survey had back pain at least once a month, the statistic for 18-24 year olds was even higher, at 71%.

That’s extraordinary isn’t it?

A whole generation of young people is going to grow up with back pain as a part of life. Just think what will happen when that generation reaches 55 years old.

It’s a ticking health time bomb!

So if you’re suffering from back pain that you cannot shake, no matter what you try, then this might interest you.

Could this be the hidden cause of YOUR pain?

At the beginning of 2018, a study was published in the Journal of Biomechanics which examined chronic back pain in runners.

It found that runners with weak deep core muscles were more at risk of getting lower back pain.

Now, the core muscles aren’t the ones that get ‘ripped’ when you go to the gym or do 100 sit-ups every day.

They’re not the fancy external muscles that people like to show off.

They’re the deeper muscles that keep your body stable and ensure all your moving parts are working in synch.

These include:

  • Transversus Abdominis – this is a muscle that works like a corset around your spine and pelvis. It tightens to guard your spinal joints, ligaments, discs and nerves as you move around.
  • Pelvic Floor & Diaphragm Muscles – these work together to keep your lumbar spine supported and in synch with your pelvic floor.
  • Multifidus Muscles – these are short muscles aiding back stability, fine-tuning your postural movements.

The study concluded that, for most of us, these ‘deep core muscles’ aren’t strong enough to keep our skeletons working as they should.

This is the hidden cause of a lot of unexplained chronic pain.

You see, when your core muscles are weak, they force other muscles to work harder. These include the famous ‘abs’, which look nice but don’t really stabilise your body.

Abs are sometimes known as ‘superficial muscles’ – because they’re not the main powerhouse of your body’s movement.

So when abs and other superficial muscles are forced to take responsibility for your posture, things start to go awry.

Those muscles are just not up to the job, long-term.

It’s not what they’re designed for.

Meanwhile, your core muscles are screaming out for a proper job. But the longer they stay dormant, the less they can help.

This is why, as the 2018 survey showed, a super-fit athlete might still have weak core muscles which cause back pain issues over time.

Of course, this applies to everyone, not just athletes.

If you have weak core muscles then every time you walk, stand for a long period or sit at a desk, you’re pushing the responsibility for stabilising your posture onto the wrong muscles.

Over time, this affects your ligaments, joints, spine and nerves.

Eventually, it causes pain.

So what can you do?

How to re-awaken your core muscles

One of the best ways to build and address bad posture is through Pilates.

If you can find, and afford, a local class, it’s well worth trying it out.

It’s low impact and designed to ‘re-awaken’ those sleeping core muscles so that they support your body.

Another option is to visit a physiotherapist and ask them to look at your posture to spot any problematic areas, then give you basic exercises for core muscles.

Or look up some videos on YouTube by typing ‘deep core muscles’, (although refer to a physio or medical professional before you do anything too strenuous).

One of the easiest things to try on a daily basis is pelvic floor exercises (this goes for men, too). Check out this NHS page.

I’ve got some more suggestions, but I’ll leave them for another letter.

Have a great weekend!