Don't break the bank to banish your back pain… instead try our affordable pick of products that really do help
21:00 GMT, 28 April 2012
As someone who spends much of the day helping people whose lives are made miserable by a bad back, I would welcome a miracle cure.
But after ten years of working as an osteopath, I remain cynical about most of the products out there. Many have no scientific research supporting them, despite their huge prices.
If you develop back pain, take some painkillers and keep moving or your back will stiffen.
Don't break your bank account to try and fix your back… try these affordable options instead
In rare cases, when a patient can’t even climb the stairs, I advise resting for no more than 48 hours.
If you suffer any trauma to your spine or shooting pains in the legs, seek medical help immediately.
Back pain usually gets better within three days. If it doesn’t, see a doctor.
A high-tech TENS machine
It’s important to work with a registered osteopath or physiotherapist to decide the right approach for you.
And here is my pick of the products that really do help – but don’t cost the Earth.
A SHOCK TO THE SYSTEM
A high-tech TENS machine, this device passes electrical signals through adhesive pads into the lower back, which blocks the body’s pain signals. It also causes the muscles to contract, which increases blood flow to the area and stimulates healing. Many of my patients have experienced good results with a cheaper TENS machine too, available in most pharmacies from about 40.
Vitality muscle-stimulator, 449.99, compex.info
A poor mattress is thought to be the cause of one in ten cases of back pain. I recommend mattresses or toppers that are made of ‘memory foam’, which moulds to fit the back.
Double mattresses from 1,275, toppers from 429. uk.tempur.com
A poor mattress is responsible for one in ten back problems
CUSHION THE SPINE
Many people slump so that the spine curves outward, which compresses the lower back discs and weakens muscles.
The McKenzie Lumbar Roll is an inflatable cushion that nestles into the lower back, encouraging you to sit correctly with your spine curved inwards. It can be attached to chairs or car seats.
Original McKenzie Airback Lumbar Roll, 15.99, healthandcare.co.uk
The McKenzie Lumbar roll is an inflatable cushion that nestles
into the lower back, encouraging
you to sit correctly with your
spine curved inwards
FEEL THE HEAT … AND THE COLD
Ice desensitises nerve endings, providing instant pain relief and reducing inflammation in the affected area. Heat increases blood flow, which
Ice desensetises nerve endings causing instant relief
Apply an ice pack wrapped in a light towel to your back for five minutes. Remove and apply a heat pack, also wrapped in a towel, for 20 minutes.
Physique hot and cold packs, 4.19 each, physique.co.uk
A Swiss ball, main picture, is a versatile piece of equipment. Try lying face-down on the ball so that your hands and your feet are both touching the ground.
Raising one limb at a time and holding it for 20 seconds works the core and spinal muscles.
For a stretch, lie with your back on the ball, your feet planted on the floor and your arms across your chest. Extend your arms behind you to decompress the spine.
Argos Value Range Gym Ball, 55cm, 4.99, argos.co.uk
Ergonomic chairs are a must
ARE YOU SITTING COMFORTABLY
Ergonomic chairs are a must, but you don’t need to pay thousands of pounds.
When sitting, your hips should be parallel and slightly higher than your knees. You can buy chairs with additional lumbar support but it’s just as effective to buy a separate cushion.
Remember: our bodies are not designed to sit for hours on end, so move around every 30 minutes. For anyone who spends all day working at a computer, a screen-raiser is important.
It’s a stand that increases the height of your monitor so that it is at eye level. This is essential to keep your posture straight.
Team operator chair, 49.99, staples.co.uk; Monitor-raiser, 33.08, online-ergonomics.co.uk
The BOSU balance trainer, also known as a wobble board, strengthens legs and improves balance and posture.
Standing or doing exercises on the dome will work the legs and muscles supporting the spine.
Flip it over, so that the curved side is on the floor, and you can lean on it to do exercises such as a plank.
BOSU balance trainer, from 79.29, physicalcompany.co.uk
The BOSU balance trainer, also known
as a wobble board, strengthens legs
and improves balance and posture