Seems there’s a ‘Day’ for everything these days, but being in the trade it felt wrong to let this one pass without a few words.
First, I had to head over to www.worldspineday.org to find out what it’s all about. And it seems they have it pretty well covered in the title, but here’s the first paragraph anyway:
“Taking place on October 16 each year, World Spine Day has become a focus in raising awareness of back pain and other spinal issues. With health professionals, exercise and rehabilitation experts, public health advocates, schoolchildren and patients all taking part, World Spine Day will be celebrated on every continent.”
Ok, so i’m being a little glib here. We all know that our spines are important, and brilliant. With 33 separate vertebrae connected by ligaments and muscles it’s a remarkable and complex structure. It’s also prone to going wrong, as demonstrated by the need for a #worldspineday.
worldspineday.org says that 1 billion people suffer from back pain. I guess it depends on how you define ‘suffer’, but I reckon the true figure is nearer 7 billion. I don’t know anyone that doesn’t suffer from back pain sometimes. I wouldn’t say that I ‘suffer’ but it does ache sometimes. I never get an arm ache.
The theme for World Spine Day is “get spine active”.
I’ve seen first hand the effect that failing to look after your spine can have on a life, so it’s always been close to the front of my mind. I don’t stress about it, but I do remain mindful of my back and the forces being exerted on it. So if something needs lifting and I don’t think I can safely, it stays right where it is until a safe solution can be found.
I don’t do much in the way of ‘exercise’, I try to build activity into my routine. If I’ve got time, I walk. If I haven’t got time, but don’t need to carry anything, I cycle.
Like most people, I spend a lot of my time sitting. And for a lot of people this is the cause of their problem. The spine doesn’t like to sit. There’s a reason every skeleton you’ve ever seen has the legs hanging off the bottom, not perched up at right angles. It doesn’t like to sit, and it doesn’t like to be still. But I bang on enough about sitting, here and elsewhere so I’ll spare you this time…
I don’t enjoy resistance training. There was a time when I was younger when I thought you had to go to a gym, engage with weird machines and lift stuff. It always hurt something eventually. Fortunately, this phase of my life passed quite quickly, and without serious injury.
I’m not saying don’t go to a gym. If you like it, go. I didn’t, so I don’t. I do enjoy walking, mountain biking, swimming, kayaking and rock climbing. While it is of course possible to hurt yourself doing any of these things, they all require the whole body to move in a natural way, while exerting very little pressure on any one area. I should probably say that kayakers are prone to shoulder injuries. But swimming in particular is a brilliant way of moving everything without exerting undue pressure anywhere.
So what do you do to keep your spine active?