New consumer research from the BCA has found that two fifths (41%) of people have been prevented from exercising due to back or neck pain.
Furthermore, a quarter (25%) of respondents reported their back or neck pain has deterred them from physical activity for up to a month, with a further 9% stating their back or neck pain has led to them avoiding exercise for over half a year. An unfortunate 34% felt it was exercise itself which triggered their pain.
With so many people potentially being put off sport this summer the BCA is urging more people to be aware of the benefits of exercise for improving their back health.
Les Ferdinand, Director of Football at Queens Park Rangers and former footballer, is supporting the BCA’s campaign and comments “Chiropractors have been a massive help to me throughout my professional football career. The chiropractors I have seen have managed to keep me going and avoid more invasive treatment on a number of injuries. They have also allowed me to continue training and resolve the underlying issues which might have prevented me training or playing.”
This year Ferdinand had a new challenge: “I was invited to take part in the fifth annual Football to Amsterdam ride raising money for Prostate Cancer UK; a charity close to my heart after losing my grandfather to the disease.”
In preparation for tackling the 145-mile cycle from Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park’s Lee Valley VeloPark to Amsterdam, Ferdinand worked on his pedal power, which was a totally different challenge for him.
“I started to experience different problems with my back and hips. I had given myself three months to train for this and I was worried that this would stop me from taking part. Seeing the Queens Park Rangers chiropractor, Catherine Quinn, regularly through that time allowed me to sort these problems out and continue my training. We worked on my back and hip mobility and she gave me an exercise plan to work on in the gym alongside my training. This meant I could complete the ride with the only discomfort being from the saddle.
“Now I’m back to my usual regime of boxing and weight training and Catherine still keeps me able to train fully.”
BCA chiropractor Catherine Quinn, who specialises in treating sport related back pain, comments: “We really want as many people as possible to get out there and enjoy sports this summer. Moderate exercise is essential to build and maintain strength and flexibility, improving posture and protecting you from any further pain.
“The spine is naturally strong and stable so it’s worrying to find that so many people are being prevented from staying active due to back pain. While total rest may seem like a good way to recover, often continuing moderate physical activity will help in the long run. Your local chiropractor will be able to advise on what is right for you.”
To help people of all ages and fitness levels back pain-proof their work-out routines this summer the BCA has developed these top tips:
• Know your equipment: When trying a new activity, it’s always best to make sure you ask your instructor how your equipment should be set up, and make sure it’s right for you. For example, if you’re cycling or spinning, you need to set your saddle and handlebar to the correct height so that you are in a comfortable position that isn’t putting tension on your neck or back
• Know your limits: Even professional athletes aren’t born ready, it takes time to build the intensity of your practice. If you try a new sport, or want to intensify your workout, it’s important to take a slow approach and not to push your body’s limits. It is always advisable to visit a professional who can assess your body’s capabilities and advise on a safe way of training based on your body’s limitations.
• Warm up and cool down: Before starting any form of physical activity, you should warm up any muscle groups which might be affected whilst you exercise. If you use them without preparing them first, your muscles could get a shock, causing you pain which could have been prevented.
• Reduce the impact: If a previous injury is causing you pain, adapt your exercise to reduce the impact on your joints and muscles. Activities such as swimming, walking or yoga can be less demanding on your body keeping your muscles mobile!
• Not all exercise is the same: The fittest of athletes will still find it difficult to adapt to a new sport, as each sport uses some muscle groups more than others. With this in mind, always approach a new activity with care and don’t assume that you can jump in at the deep end!