Tips and exercises for back pain

Back pain is a common complaint in the modern world. Around 80% of adults in Switzerland will suffer from back pain at least once in their life. We spend too much time sitting down and don't move around enough. Back pain can be linked to poor posture, which is often caused by weak back muscles. Make sure you take action to tackle back pain before it becomes a chronic problem. Preventive measures can be very effective.


What can cause back pain?

Back pain can be acute and last for a few days or weeks at a time. But it can also manifest itself as a chronic ailment lasting for months or even years.

Back pain is merely a symptom and tells us little about its causes. It is often a reflection of the modern society in which we live, with hours spent sitting in the car or at a desk in the office. Many of us take too little exercise in the course of a normal day. Muscle strain and tension, or muscle cramp caused by mental stress are possible causes of back pain.

85% of reported back pain is deemed unspecific due to the absence of any clear medical diagnosis. In rare cases, the cause will be obvious i.e. when a slipped or “herniated” disc or a trapped nerve is causing the back pain. Inflammation of the internal organs, illnesses such as Bekhterev’s disease (ankylosing spondylitis) and other forms of inflammatory rheumatism can also be causes of back pain.

What can alleviate back pain?

Acute back pain is normally the result of harmless tension in the muscles of the back. Simple household remedies can help: taking a hot bath, applying hot/cold compresses. A massage, ointments or even a walk in the fresh air can also help. By contrast, excessive lying down can exacerbate the pain and delay recovery.

It is worthwhile visiting the doctor if the pain continues over a long time.

Everyday help for your back

A well-trained back is better able to withstand the stresses and strains of everyday life. With some simple exercises and by following a few everyday tips, you can strengthen your back and prevent pain from developing in the first place. Tips for everyday life:

Exercise is the best medicine for a healthy back. Try to incorporate as much exercise into your everyday life as possible and take time out for a brief spot of exercise . If you can, keep changing your working position and avoid remaining seated for lengthy periods at a time.

Ensure that your workplace is set up correctly and avoid unilateral strains and postures in everyday life. If you need to lift heavy loads, always keep your back straight and your knees bent.

Give your spine a workout every day to maintain flexibility. You can perform the simple exercises right away in the morning or use them to loosen up during your working day. Repeat each exercise 10–20 times:

Lumbar spine or lower back (perform while sitting):

  1. Alternate between tilting your pelvis backwards and then forwards
  2. Alternate between pulling up your right and then your left hip
  3. Push and stretch one leg forward, then the other

Thoracic spine or mid back (perform on all fours):

  1. Cat stretch (alternate between arching then hollowing the back)
  2. Alternate between moving your right and then your left shoulder towards the hip (side bending)
  3. Alternate between moving your right and then your left shoulder down towards the floor (rotation)

Cervical spine (perform while sitting):

  1. Sit up with your head straight, then alternate by tilting your head to the left and to the right
  2. Alternate between rotating your head to the left and then to the right
  3. Rotate your head (while lowered) in a semi-circular motion from right to left

One of the causes of unspecific back pain can be problems with the fascia becoming restricted and sticking together. The fascia are the muscular connective tissues that bind together muscles and organs in the human body. They need to be exercised, otherwise they can become thinner, less elastic, and lose their natural ability to glide smoothly over the structures in the body. This is why it is important to train these connecting tissues regularly. An effective means of training is based on the “Blackroll”; alternatively, a tennis ball can be used. The rolling movement massages the fascia and helps avoid the build-up of water in the tissues of the body.

Stress can lead to tension in the whole body and can exacerbate back pain. Make a point of taking time out to relax. Relaxation techniques can also help. It is also important to get a good night’s sleep.

Our benefits to keep your back strong

Back and full-body exercise courses

Under the SANA and COMPLETA supplementary healthcare insurance policies, you will receive 75% of the costs up to CHF 200 per calendar year for selected back and full-body exercise courses.

Helsana Primeclub

Benefit from a 30% discount on the “Blackroll Standard” and relieve your muscular tension.More about the “Blackroll”

Further information


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