October 26, 2017

What Is Safe To Do With a Bad Back?

Monica Franke

This is a bit of a ‘How long is a piece of string?’ question. There are so many different types of back pain, and so many activities people need to do in their day. And for people that we treat at the Clinic, it’s incredibly important that they know what they can keep doing.

So, here is a general list of how to approach daily life when your back hurts!


Getting in and out of a car is probably the most annoying thing to have to do, and sometimes downright impossible! It’s best to start facing out the door, so sitting sideways, then try to move both legs in to the car from there. You’ll have the seat to support your weight and back, and you won’t be putting too much rotation/forward bend into the spine. You may have to use your hands to help move your legs, as a sore back has very, very little tolerance for load. 
It can also be helpful to fold a hand towel and put this under your bottom – it will lift your pelvis a bit and reduce the flexion in your back as you drive.


Stuff it! Washing dishes, hoovering, laundry…all require you to be semi-bent all the time, so leave it for a few days or get someone else to step in – yes, you can have this in writing! 
If it has to be done, try to keep twisting and reaching to one side to a minimum. And my golden rule about protecting your back in semi flexion – stick your bum out! This is easier to keep in mind than the old adage “use your knees”, but has the same effect.


Let them know that you’re delicate and need some extra consideration from them. Keep your back straight and kneel if you want to talk to them – get down to their level in a safe way that means you can keep your voice even. It will conserve your energy which is essential as back pain is exhausting, and so are children! For babies in cots, use the bum out rule. It really does help.

Working out

If it’s comfortable to do 30% of what you normally do, then do it. 
If you cannot stop yourself from doing more than 30%, don’t do anything.

Swimming (breaststroke especially, but front crawl too) is often unhelpful for a sore back, and the buoyancy can disguise aggravation which only becomes apparent when you get out. 
Stretching is great – keep the movement in the joints pure (so not flinging limbs into position – use bands or dressing-gown cords/belts to help move your limbs into position). Focus on glutes, quads and hamstrings. 
See my Youtube videos for help with these if you need it.

Back pain
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