We seem to spend half our lives sitting - and often with bad posture.
As kids we spend hours sitting in the class room hunched over a desk writing, then we go home and spend more hours sitting doing homework and studying, followed by a couple of hours sitting in front of the TV.
As adults, many of us spend hours sitting at a desk hunched over a computer, then there's the trip home sitting in a car, bus or train, and when we finally get home - more hours sitting in front of the TV or on the computer (again). How many hours a day do you spend sitting - and is it any wonder so many of suffer from lower back problems?
When your back hurts, getting up off the couch may seem like the last thing you want to do - but you should probably make it the 1ST thing you do. Research shows that getting moving is exactly what you need - provided you go about it the right way! Did you know that exercising will...
- strengthen the core and back muscles that support your back
- increase your flexibility and range of movement
- improve your overall mobility
- improve your posture and spinal alignment
- reduce the chances of developing arthritis and osteoporosis which can cause back pain.
- release pain killing Endorphins (the feel good hormone)
Let me start by saying, I am not a doctor, physiotherapist or anything like that, and I definitely recommend that if you experience back pain you should consult your doctor or health care professional before undertaking any new form of exercise to ensure you don't aggravate the problem. In saying that however, most health care professionals will advise that you avoid high impact and full body contact activities like running, netball, weight lifting and football - any activity that involves heavy, sharp, high impact movements.
What kind of exercise SHOULD you do if you suffer with back pain? Answer: Low impact activity that will increase overall strength (particularly core, back and pelvis), flexibility and range of movement - think swimming, yoga, low impact strength and resistance training.....OR you could try pole dancing and aerial yoga :-) As a 41 year old Mum, I had experienced Sciatica and lower back problems for many, many years. I'd seen Doctors, Physiotherapists and Chiropractors, all of whom had provided minimal, short term relief, but the pain always returned. I was popping several "over the counter" pain killers EVERY day and still suffered from a great deal of pain.
I spent a great deal of time protecting my back by avoiding any moderately strenuous activities, and even general housework, gardening etc had become a nightmare. As mentioned in one of my previous articles "I'm too _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ to Pole Dance" I discovered Pole Dance back in 2004. At that time there were only a few schools here in Australia – and who had the time to travel 1.5 hours (each way) to do a 1 hour class? PLUS I knew that I was too old, too unfit and too weak, so who did I think I was kidding?
For some reason which I still have trouble explaining, the voices in my head would not give up on this pole dance thing – and as with all things that you just HAVE to do, I found a way to make it happen - and thank God I did! I got a dance pole at home and hunted down some DVD's (rather dodgy ones, but never-the-less) and in those early days I struggled a bit (read a lot), but I persevered and eventually nailed some pretty cool spins and tricks. I noticed pretty quickly that my back pain was starting to become A LOT less frequent, and I was waking up in the morning feeling refreshed and revitalised, rather than dragging my aching body out of bed to try and face another day.
Before I knew it, I was hanging upside down and then worked out I could do crunches hanging upside down on a dance pole - only a couple at first, but it didn’t take long before I was doing 10 and more! In those early days I quickly noticed that my back wasn’t giving me as much trouble as it had and I was moving more freely than I had in ages! All that hanging my own body weight off a vertical pole was actually helping to decompress my spine as well as build my upper body and core strength. The pain killers were down to only a couple a day (generally after a day at work).
Over the next few months I was able to do more advanced moves which continued to build my overall strength - including my core and back. I was off the pain killers completely by this stage - and I was feeling fitter, stronger and more self confident than ever before.
Another excellent example is our business partner in Adelaide, CHRIS MEASDAY.... Chris was a competitive gymnast and coach. He started doing gymnastics as a young boy and continued through his teenage years and into adulthood. While training for an upcoming competition, he was performing a triple back flip with a double twist (or something equally as impressive) but didn't quite make it. He landed badly as was rushed to hospital with suspected spinal injuries. Fortunately, there was no spinal cord damage, but he had managed to break his back in seven (yes I said 7) places. A lengthy recovery and rehabilitation followed - and his lifetime of gymnastics was suddenly out the window!
Once he was recovered Chris started looking at other low impact activities he COULD do that held the same interest as gymnastics had. It was then that he discovered Pole Dancing. As one of the first men in Australia (and probably the world) to show an interest in this predominantly female industry he found it hard to find a studio that would accept a male student. Like myself, he ended up getting a dance pole and playing around at home.
He re-built his old strength and with his knowledge of gymnastics was able to develop some pretty cool moves. Fast forward seven or eight years and Chris is now the Ultimate International Men's Pole Champion and has won and placed highly in many national and international competitions. He is well known around the world for his fun, gymnastic inspired routines which are often mingled with a little comedy.
He is Director and co-owner of Pol-arise Fitness & Dance in Adelaide (SA), where he and his team teach both ladies and guys to Pole Dance for fun and fitness and at 32 years of age, he continues to perform, compete and judge in competitions around the world.
Don't get me wrong here - I'm not saying that EVERYONE is going to get the same results as either Chris or myself - but from our experience I will say that many people suffering from back problems and lower back pain CAN and DO get relief from exercising - and Pole Dance and Aerial Yoga are both FUN ways to get fit, build overall body strength and you will SEE and FEEL the results quickly! It is a low impact sport with no hard landings or sharp movements making it ideal for people with back problems.
So stop sitting around - get off your arse, and get moving and grooving....whatever your style of fitness is. Your back will thank you for it :)
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Yours in health and fitness -