Free Back Pain Tips Report

7 Things to do to keep your back healthy

According to Clinical Sports Medicine, back pain is something that will affect up to 85% of the Western population at some point in their lives. The vast majority of the time the back pain you experience would be classified as “Mechanical low back pain”. This simply means that your back pain is due to the way you move or the positions you put your back in during the day causing too much stress on the structures of the back like the joints, discs or ligaments. Therefore, to fix your pain we first have to fix some of your poor habits that are causing you to put too much pressure on the ligaments, joints or disks of your back. Here are seven tips to help avoid or treat back pain.


  1. Take regular breaks from sitting.

One of the principle reasons people get back pain is that their back is kept in a rounded position for too long. When in a flexed or rounded position it causes excessive stress and strain to be put on the ligaments, joints and discs of the back. Here is an example, pull your finger back towards your wrist. After a few seconds in this position your finger starts to feel very uncomfortable. Why? Because you are straining the ligaments at your finger and the joint is at its limit of movement, which causes discomfort and pain.

It is the same at your back.

Keeping your back in such a rounded position will cause the ligaments to become strained and over worked. A recent study by Stuart McGill reported that office workers with back pain reported that their back pain got progressively worse throughout the day if they were sitting for 8 hours. However, there is good news from this study. Those workers with back pain who got up regularly (every hour or so) didn’t report back pain. Take away message; giving your back a break from the rounded position even for a few minutes every hour or so allows your back to nearly reset itself and can massively reduce the chance of back pain.

Regular breaks

Action: Try to stand up regularly as you can (once every hour would be ideal) for a few minutes to give your back a break. Arch your back a few times or stretch your arms over head. This will allow you to take the pressure and strain off the passive structures (ligaments, joints and discs) of your back and will help to prevent the pain before it begins. Make sure you take the break before your back starts to ache. Get up regularly even if your back is not hurting. Do not wait for the horse to bolt before you close the door!


  1. What if I can’t stand or I drive a lot?


The main thing with sitting is that your back is in that rounded or flexed position we discussed. This puts too much pressure on the ligaments, joints or disks of your back. If you cannot avoid sitting for long periods then the best approach is to try prevent your back going into this position in the first place. If you can keep your back in a neutral position then none of the structures we talked about will be over worked or strained.

Action: Get a rolled up towel and put it in the small of your back when sitting in the car or at your desk. This should stop your back going into this rounded position. Try this for 2 weeks and you will see big improvements in your back pain.


  1. Switch the core muscles back on


A strange thing about the back is that once you suffer back pain the small core muscles that keep the back in a good position can switch off. The same is true with knee pain. The body perceives danger and so it gets the bigger muscles of the trunk to try keep everything stable. In the short term this might be ok but long term you need the core muscles switched on and keeping your spine in a good position. If the core muscles are not activated then again it means that the ligaments, joints and disks are doing too much work to keep your back in a good position, which can lead to excessive stress and strain. Studies by Paul Hodges and the Queensland Group in Australia have found that patients with low back pain who undertook 4 weeks of core training were 12 times less likely to sustain further back pain than those who did not do any rehabilitation or exercises. Twelve times less likely. This highlights how important it is to do some exercises to switch the core muscles back on if you have had back pain.

Two exercises I recommend are all 4’s leg lift and the side plank. For the all 4’s leg lift, start in an all 4’s position with your hands and knees on the ground. Draw your bellybutton up towards your back. Holding this position try to lift your leg back out in line with your body for 2 seconds. Make sure there is no movement of your trunk during the action. Repeat 10 times each side.

The second exercise is the side plank, which gets the core muscles on the side of the trunk (the obliques) switched back on. Start on your side with your elbow and knees on the ground. Lift your hips up in the air so that your shoulder hip and knee are all in a straight line and you are facing the wall. Hold this position for 10 seconds and repeat 3 times on each side.

  1. Use Ice not heat

Use Ice (Not Heat) Ice is by far the best way to ease back pain. My tip, use ice whenever you’re feeling achy or painful, such as at the end of a very busy day. Apply an ice pack for 10 minutes or so, little but very often (every hour). And when to use heat – my tip would be to apply a hot water bottle on a morning when your back is likely to be feeling more stiff than painful. Again, 10 minutes should do it.


  1. Choose Sensible Footwear

Avoid bizarre choices of footwear include high heels, sandals, flip-fops and plimsole style trainers or shoes. Why bizzare? Because they’re all proven to ADD to your back pain. Wearing high heels will increase the pressure through your back by about 25 times. Reverse that, and it means if you wear a nice soft cushioned pair of shoes instead, your lower back would be experiencing 25 times less pressure and force placed upon it. Imagine how much relief you’d feel if you could take that type of stress of your lower back right now? But understand that it’s a cumulative effect. This pressure builds up from wearing the wrong footwear over a period of weeks and years and results in a weak and stiff back somewhere around the age of 40. All other shoes I mentioned are poor because there’s a lack of cushioning to absorb shock with these types. So your lower back has to take all of the impact every time your foot lands on the floor (not good for your knees and hips either). If you can absorb some of the shock by wearing nice soft, well fitted and cushioned shoes/trainers, then you could reduce your back pain by as much as 20-25


  1. Good sleeping habits

Sleep With A Pillow Between Your Knees

This might be difficult at first, but if you can persist, it lowers the amount of rotation/ twisting in your spine. Your lower back hates to be twisted. If you sleep on your side, try a pillow between your legs to keep your spine aligned and this will reduce tension at your lower back.

6b. Avoid Sleeping On Your Stomach There isn’t a more effective, faster route to self-inflicted damage to your spine/lower back. Avoid this position like the plague. Every part of your spine is twisted and in the wrong position and if you sleep like this, it’s no wonder you are suffering from back pain.

7. Get Physical With Physiotherapy

There isn’t a faster way to END back pain that by going to see a physio. Getting to see a hands-on specialist physio means you’re going to get very fast access to care that will soothe and relax those tight aching muscles, loosen and lubricate stiff, stuck and painful joints, and strengthen your body so that you can go back to doing the things that you love. You can often leave a good physio with concerns eased and physical pain reduced, inside 40-50 minutes. Combine all of the “tips” in this Special Report with a trip to see a hands on private physio, and you will see a dramatic drop in the back pain and stiffness you are currently suffering from. I

Simple habits can make a big difference, one way or the other. Doing these simple things can dramatically help your back pain. Good luck.

If interested in physiotherapy email



10 Laws of Health and Fitness- Part 2


The 10 Laws of Health and Fitness- Part 2

(Originally Written for the Kilkenny People, for similar articles check the Sports section of the Kilkenny People each week)

Welcome back. Today I will continue with the 10 laws that should be followed to ensure better health and fitness. If you missed the first article, the first 3 were: 1. Purpose- What is driving you? For me it is better health and vitality, improved fitness over time increased quality of life (training helps release powerful endorphins in the brain and gives more energy long term than it takes) and finally it keeps me less vulnerable to injury and illness in the future. 2. Consistency-  The more you do, the better you get! 3. Variety- Change up the type of training, intensity, duration etc. to keep fresh.

So today we look at the next 2 laws of health and fitness.

  1. Intensity- You are tougher than you think!

This one is key for the person who is now one month, two months or even more into a fitness routine. The initial gains have started to slow down and we wonder why we are not getting the same benefits as we once did? The answer is that our body adapts to the stress we place it under. What is hard on the first day of training will feel relatively comfortable by day 28.

It is easy to get stuck in a rut and keep doing the same walk or run that you have done since the start. It is easy to keep lifting the same weights for the same number of repetitions. You are tougher and able to handle more than you think! Constantly try to push the line of your fitness. Add more weights or extra reps in the gym. Start adding 1 minute runs into your walk every 5 minutes. Add surges into your runs if you are comfortable running. As you get fitter and stronger push yourself a little bit more each week. Try to stay in a range of 6-8 out of 10 for your training sessions. If you are getting serious about general fitness I recommend a heart rate monitor and come up with training zones. For more information about this email me on

A word of warning with this, monitor yourself. If you are feeling very tired for about a week it is a sign that you have over-trained and need to back off a little before you increase your training again. I generally go 3 weeks of hard training then 1 week relatively easy to make sure I stay fresh.

  1. Reality- The truth will set you free!

One problem I see in relation to people’s perception of fitness is that they are either stuck in the past, dreaming of a future or trying to live up to other people’s expectations. Two major factors with reality. The first, face up to who you are and the position you are currently in rather than thinking of a fantasy version of yourself. If you are 55 and haven’t trained in the last 20 years you cannot drop back into the last hurling training session you did and not expect problems! You have to start slow, start a programme designed for someone in their 50’s and in that way you will see incredible results without breaking down and getting serious injuries. On the flip side if you are 55 life is not over! I specialise with people in their 40’s, 50’s and 60’s to get painfree and fit again. Sometimes this group come to me and believe they cannot do the exercises or treatment needed to get health,  painfree or get fit again. We get great success with this group when we accept the current level of fitness and go from there. Alex Wilsdon is in his 70’s and still successfully sails boats in different, exotic parts of the world and he also drives racing cars around Mondello and beyond! The secret? Accepting where you are and then working with someone who is specialised at formulating a programme to help you. .

5b- Reality- Don’t lie to yourself.

If someone comes up to me and says I haven’t lost any weight and I have been exercising all the time and only eating healthy foods..They are lying. Hopefully just to me but sadly probably to themselves. Face up to reality. All progress starts by telling the truth. I would much rather people say I have been trying but I am still going out and drinking two days in the week or on Friday’s I am having a take away, or I still have sweets or treats after dinner. Be 100% honest with yourself. When you have a treat, enjoy it, but own up to it. Otherwise life gets frustrating as you are blind to why you are not improving.

There’s so much more to say but for now remember the key points; Have a purpose, have consistency, have variety, have intensity and be real about where you are and you are half way home to great health and fitness this year. New Pilates and Physio Fitness classes start again soon. If you want a class to keep disciplined to achieve better health and fitness in a way that gets you moving better then email me on

10 Laws of Health and Fitness


There are two things that I really like – quotes and lists!

Whether it’s a top five or 10, lists resonate with me as they help break any problem or challenge down into manageable, achievable steps.

Health and Fitness is no different. It can be broken down into a manageable, achievable steps. It should not be some mystery that only the chosen few get to experience.

That is why I want to present the 10 Laws of Health and Fitness in this article. There are certain irrefutable laws or facts that need to be adhered to in order to attain a great level of health and fitness.

In this three-part series I will explain these laws and try to highlight why they are important. I will have articles that expand on each of these in more detail in the future, but to start I think it is important to have a good general overview on how to attain better health and fitness in 2016.

Purpose – What do you want to achieve?

When I see people make a breakthrough it is because they finally had a purpose and found they wanted to get fit and healthy.

In my physio clinic I see a lot of people who have been in pain for months or years. The pain can affect their day-to-day activities and stops or hampers activities they once loved. I help a lot of people like this, especially those in the 40s, 50s and 60s to get out of pain and become active again.

But it starts with them WANTING to get out of pain and become active. Something finally clicks and they decide enough is enough. That is always the starting point, otherwise they don’t come to see me.

Exercise and eating right can help you feel better. When you feel better, you do more. When you do more, you meet other people.

A healthy lifestyle gives us the energy to be better than before. We want to participate, share, communicate, and build a community that has purpose in our lives. Get a goal for 2016, something that motivates you and makes you want to start.

Consistency – ‘Some of the time’ never changed anything, good or bad.

If I eat ice-cream some of the time or as a treat, that’s fine it is not going to really affect that much. If I ate ice-cream every day, I probably would not be in great shape!

It is the same with training. Someone once told me training twice a week is like throwing yourself down the stairs – it hurts a lot but doesn’t do much good.

You have to train or exercise at least four times per week. This can be four walks initially but, ideally, it would be a conditioning/Pilates class, a walk/run and two intense cardio sessions (a hard walk or run where you go fast for a minute then easy for a minute for sets of 10 minutes).

A word of caution on this: for people in their 40s, 50s or 60s, make sure if you are going to do a class it is measured and designed to keep you injury free also.

Variety – Don’t be afraid to mix it up!

Once you have consistency and you are training at least four times per week you need to add variety to it – mix it up!

There are so many reasons why this is important.

From a health and injury prevention perspective, too much of the same thing causes pressure on the same joints and strain on the same muscles. This can lead to stiffness and ultimately breakdown. It can also cause boredom in your training.

Variety doesn’t mean you have to change the type of exercise you do (although that does help) but you should change things such as the intensity levels, duration of exercise and terrain.

I am a competitive runner so I need to do a lot of running. I make sure I have good variety in my training by doing some sprinting type of training sessions, some longer sessions and some in the middle!

I also run a functional fitness class in St Fiachra’s Parish centre twice a week to make sure I help reset and restore my joints and muscles.

By changing up your training you avoid plateaus and keep improving your fitness, shape and ultimately your health.

I will continue this theme in next week’s column with the next four laws of health and fitness.

If you are interested in a safe and effective class to improve fitness and tone muscles email for further information about physio Pilates and functional fitness classes.