ILLUSTRATION - Orthopaedists recommend standing up and stretching two or three times an hour when working in an office. Photo: Christin Klose/dpa
ILLUSTRATION - Orthopaedists recommend standing up and stretching two or three times an hour when working in an office. Photo: Christin Klose/dpa

Back pain is without a doubt one of the most common ailments worldwide. But sufferers are often to blame themselves, health experts say, because a lack of exercise is a major risk factor.

Regular physical activity will strengthen your back muscles and ease strain on your spine, points out the German Society for Orthopaedics and Trauma (DGOU).

Your intervertebral discs and joints will also benefit from a regular alternation of stress and de-stress.

Here are five of the most important things to watch out for if you want to keep your back healthy.

 Exercise daily: How you choose to exercise isn’t really important, according to the DGOU. Be it going for walks in the park or climbing hills near your home, any kind of exercise is good for your back. You should exercise for at least 30 minutes daily, though.

Since even a half-hour of exercise may seem like a lot to some people, the DGOU suggests breaking it up into three sessions of about 10 minutes each.

 Keep moving at work: While some jobs involve plenty of physical activity, many people who do desk work get too little of it. There are two ways to remedy this somewhat, namely by constantly changing your sitting position and regularly standing up to stretch.

 Watch your weight: Too little exercise – and more snacking than usual from being cooped up by coronavirus restrictions – can make you gain weight. The excess poundage puts added stress on your back muscles.

If you maintain a healthy weight, you’ll also eliminate a risk factor for many illnesses, points out orthopaedist Dr Holger Holtschmit, president of ANOA, a working group of non-operative orthopaedic manual medicine acute clinics in Germany.

 Have a fixed morning routine: Doing something for your health right after you get up in the morning will provide motivation for the entire day – and your back will thank you too. You needn’t overdo it, though. Ten minutes of callisthenics and stretching exercises are enough.

5 – Regularly unwind: Poorly conditioned muscles aren’t the only trigger for back pain. Your mental state can play a role as well, remarks Holtschmit. If you can, by all means avoid constant stress and regularly relax. If yoga or autogenic training aren’t your thing, you can take walks in the woods, for instance.

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