If my back could talk, what would it say? It would reprimand me for years of neglect and abuse. I did aerobics on hard floors, I did Jane Fonda’s Workout (complete with leotard and leggings!), I ran for miles on tarmac roads, I rushed out to play sport without properly warming up, particularly in my early adult years.

I visited chiropractors and physios on and off in my 20s until eventually at 32 years of age, following four months in bed in constant pain, I had no option (as my neurosurgeon told me) but to have a discectomy. Luckily, it was a success and I was able to return to sport (tennis) and was relatively pain-free for years.

But five years ago, I had an MRI scan which revealed two bulging discs, stenosis and degeneration in the lower back.

I was recommended to see Andrew Smith (www.willowsclinic.com) – I’ve gone in crooked and sore and come out straight and painless. I go for ‘maintenance’ every 4-6 weeks – money well spent, as I reckon he’s keeping the surgeon’s knife at bay. The treatments vary from deep tissue massage, gentle spinal and pelvic manipulation, manual stretching, G5 mechanical massage and ultra-sound treatment.

If like me you have used and abused your back (or have the beginnings of a problem there), here are some tips based on my experiences over the years:

  • Take anti-inflammatories…and if the pain persists, see your GP
  • Get an MRI scan – you need to know what’s wrong and there’s no point in guesswork
  • Find a professional back expert, whether it be a physio, chiropractor, physical therapist, etc. – ask your friends for recommendations. Remember that therapists will have different techniques and strengths…and bring your MRI scan with you
  • Find the best exercises for you to strengthen your back so you can avoid further injuries and keep pain away, e.g.
  • Pilates is recognised as one of the best ways to strengthen your core, although it’s vital you go to classes first before doing it at home
  • ‘Foundation Training’ – a friend loaned me the DVD which I have found to be invaluable – check out foundationtraining.com, see some exercises on YouTube and do your back a favour.

I particularly like the Foundation Training as it has definitely stretched and strengthened my back. The basic exercise – The Founder – needs no equipment and can be done anywhere (well perhaps not on the street where you might get some odd stares).

Exercises1 Exercises2

You need to start slowly and build up…and the best news is that even one sequence of exercises (approx.. 6 minutes) can help your back instantly. I’m always interested to know what’s worked for others so get in touch with any tips or helpful info that you have.