A Quick Story About Back Pain

I’m no stranger to back pain, and have spent most of the last two and a half years having the odd flare up – that was until this weekend just gone. I felt like it was a good time to go through my treatments as well as seeing where we go next.

On Saturday morning as I was getting ready to go to BritMums, I sat on my hotel bed. The familiar shooting pain arrived, my back was playing up. I could walk, it was just hurting. As the day progressed  so did my back pain and I knew I couldn’t do much, so cut my losses and left by 11am, gutted. I spent most of Saturday in bed resting before eventually calling the NHS 111 line for more information.

They suggested I try some Co-Codamol which can be bought over the counter. That doesn’t stop the back pain but stops you feeling it, so I went with that.

The following day I headed to my local Walk-In centre and was prescribed stronger Co-Codamol as well as a prescription-only anti-inflammatory. I asked for advice about whether I should be thinking about an operation and was given good advice. I’ve had back pain for long enough and hate the big flare ups.

Today I went to my local Osteopath and had a treatment. £40. One off. If I need another it’s free of charge. My bones were checked, and I have a twisted pelvis – and it has probably been long-term too. My body is telling me that it can’t deal with it right now. Several clicks and twists and though I went into the office almost in tears (as I have most of the weekend, ugh), I came out smiling. While I’m not 100% I’m definitely feeling an improvement.

Which makes me think of the types of back care I’ve received with my problem.

Initially it’s over the counter. When it’s bad it’s call the doctor. The doctor doesn’t do home visits, so it’s dial 999 (honestly, I felt terrible doing that). On being admitted to hospital, I was pretty much looked at like I was wasting time. I felt like I had too. I was given a painkiller which worked and sent home. I kind of wish I’d had an ambulance car do that for me at home rather than being blue-lighted to hospital. (n.b. this was almost three years ago)

When it happens again you get pain medication from a doctor. You get stronger medication if you go to see them. If you visit a chiropractor you get an x-ray so you can see what’s happened, but they get to keep it. You also have to keep going back, paying every time. I got my first three visits on a Groupon deal which I probably wouldn’t have done, were it not for the deal.

When you go to a Chiropractor, it’s a one-off treatment and they really hope you don’t come back. No medication is usually needed. You might even find out what the problem you’ve had is.

When you’re a blogger you get lucky sometimes and get a Backlife to use. I still use mine a lot and it helps – I thought that was worth a mention. As were the spiky balls I got from my Pilates instructor. They both help with pain relief, but not the problem. I’ll still be using both, anyway.

British Chiropactic Association

I’m still not 100% but feel like I’m closer to my problem. A twisted spine fits in perfectly with everything that was covered here at an event I went to with the British Chiropractic Association – six months after my first major back problem but full of useful tips and hints. If you’re not sure, give it a read. It makes you think about the everyday things you do and how to do them differently. I know I will now.

Backlife. How To Improve Back Pain at Home.

Backlife is a device which has been clinically proven to relieve back pain. I’ve had a lot of trouble with back pain these last couple of years. I’ve been using my Backlife daily for over a month now, and this is my review.

Backlife is a device which is clinically proven to relieve back pain. I have back pain daily, hourly – all day and every day. I jumped at the chance to review this, and was intrigued – could a device like this really make a difference?


It works in a really simple way. Firstly, set the height of the leg rest according to your height – it’s set in 5cm increments using the blue button on the top of the machine. I’m five foot ten so 177cm – which rounded to 175. Plug it in, get comfortable and make sure you have a cushion or two for your head, simply press the button near the base and lie still for twelve minutes.


Backlife lower back

In that time your lower back will have gentle exercise – a bit like when a chiropractor rotates your legs to get the joints moving without the clicks that usually come with it. It lifts your legs up and down in a really gentle way, and not so you’d notice. This is called Continuous Passive Movement (CPM) and is used to work your muscles and mobilise your spine.

You lie on the ground with your legs draped over the Backlife and it gently rotates your knees which in turn rotates your pelvis, which gets the vertebrae of your lower back working. And this gentle motion loosens up the stiffened muscles which cause bad backs. Backlife uses accepted clinical techniques and is clinically proven to work.

It’s really relaxing too. My legs have felt tingly afterwards in a good way. I’ve found that it works best for me in the evenings (the guidance recommends twice daily but I don’t have time in the mornings) and it is making a huge difference to my life. I do still have minor back aches from time to time but nothing like it was a month ago.


I am taking Devil’s Claw to help with my pain (one a day) and am now swimming several times a week. However, using the Backlife machine made things feel ‘normal’ again – a feeling I’ve not had in my back for a long time. I feel like I can swim better as well as move around much smoother – it has helped me to feel normal again.

The Backlife machine retails for £299 and is currently on offer for £235. I have a code to share with you which will take £70 off the Backlife as well – please use BACKTU

Please note – I am aware of what my back problems are so felt like this was a good option for me. I have disc problems, where some are being squeezed by my lower back giving me pain, so doing pilates, swimming and now this have proved beneficial. My pilates instructor is a physiotherapist and had heard of the Backlife machine, and lots of really good things about it too. What’s more, if you buy from JD Harris they offer a lifetime guarantee if it makes no difference. It’s a lot of money to pay, but so are appointments with chiropractors.

Back Ache

I’ve had back problems for a while now. I can’t remember when they started, but things slowly came to a head a couple of weeks ago. I was in constant pain and nothing seemed to help. Add to that I was picking up colds, and the coughing set off the pains in my back again. It wasn’t fun.

I decided to try and find things that might work – my issue with my back is disc related, as well as the way my bones are in my lower back, so it’s something that exercise will fix rather than an operation or rest. So far they’re helping a lot – and I’m as surprised as anyone the difference they’ve made.

spiky massage balls

Firstly, I invested in a pair of massage balls. I put myself forward as a reflexology body in the summer and had a free session – my back felt lovely afterwards – and these massage balls follow the same principles. You roll them on your feet and every time my back stops hurting. At my pilates classes we’ve used them before doing roll down (when you touch your toes). Our teacher gets us to roll the balls on our feet (in standing position) for a minute, then try – and it works. My thinking is that if I’ve a sore back in the morning, a quick massage on my foot will help me get to the station and to my train on time! So far, so good!

Secondly, I’ve started taking Devil’s Claw – I bought some from Healthspan which are Vegetarian and Vegan friendly and almost immediately noticed the difference. They aren’t cheap, but right now I’m taking one a day (rather than the recommended two) and it’s helping a lot. They’re designed to help with back pain as well as rheumatic pain and aren’t recommended if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, or have had ulcers. Fortunately I have none of those so I’m fine. There’s also a chance you can feel drowsy afterwards, but I haven’t felt that.

PosturePlast back ache help

Finally, way back in time I was sent some PosturePlast back supports to review. They’re quite interesting. A large sticky X plaster you put on your lower back. These are helpful – I know my biggest problem is my posture when sitting down, and going into standing – I feel lopsided. With this X stuck to my back it helped me fix how I was standing and sitting, which was interesting to try – though wasn’t the most practical in day to day life. However, as a reminder of how my posture *should* be, it worked well. It sticks onto your back well as well!

Right now, after trying these I feel different – I’m back to running for things again (at one point I could barely walk), and the final thing I should mention are my running shoes – I was sent them for review at the start of the year and they’ve been the best shoes I could wish for. The support when I’ve had to run is great – I’m no runner but I know these have helped.  I’m hoping this is the way forward and things will continue to improve!

Hotter Shoes

Hotter Shoes are a new brand to me, so when the opportunity arose to try a pair out, I had a look around the website. Almost every review of them tells of how comfortable they are, so I had to give them a go!

Hotter Shoes

I have back problems, almost every day I’m in pain and while it’s manageable it’s annoying. I need shoes which give me good support. Throughout this year I’ve been wearing running shoes constantly – mainly through being late for the train every morning or getting to Clapham Junction from Wandsworth in eight minutes – so for running I need the support. Outside of that, I need shoes I can walk around in and feel comfortable which is where Hotter Shoes come in.

The Hotter Shoes website has a handy sizing guide which you print out and measure. I did it with help from a workmate – and I seem to be around a size six! I generally buy size 8 shoes, and when I’ve asked in shoe shops have been told “just try what fits” – I haven’t been properly measured in years, so that was a big surprise. In fact, I was so unsure about this lower size I ordered a seven just in case, and opted for the Leanne design. They’re extremely comfortable – and my back feels supported and comfortable which is the most important thing I need.

As I’m constantly running for trains, I should have chosen more appropriate shoes – so I found myself wearing these for daily tasks, like school pickup when I’m not rushing as much. I’ve also worn them when we’ve been out and about outside, and have found them extremely comfortable. The threading areas around the laces are also well stitched; many’s the time I’ve had that part come away, these are nice and strong.

Hotter Shoes

I like that the shoes have removable insoles – did you know that to keep shoes fresh and non-stinky, that if you remove the insoles and let them air, then your smelly shoe problem is unlikely to happen?

The thing I’m the most happy about with Hotter Shoes is knowing I followed the measuring guides and found a pair of shoes which fit me comfortably. I’ve also found a local shoe shop that stocks them and I know I’ll be buying more – and I’ll be investigating the pairs which are better suited to running – for trains, that is – I’m not quite ready for Couch to 5K!

If comfort is your thing, head over to Hotter Shoes – there’s a good choice! Don’t be afraid to order online – using the measuring guide you’ll almost definitely find your shoes fit you so much better than some of your existing ones!

You can follow Hotter Shoes on Facebook and Twitter, keep an eye out for their sale items. You spend a little more but for the comfort it’s worth it. Look out for them in your local shoe shops too!

We were sent a pair of shoes for the purpose of review, all opinions are our own!

Back Pain and Advice from the British Chiropractic Association

British Chiropactic Association

I’ve wanted to do a feature on back pain for a while now. I’m in no way qualified to write about it from a medical perspective, however, I am qualified as I’m still in pain now, as I’m sure are many mums who have had back trouble.

Last year around August time I had a miscarriage, which started with back pain. A few weeks later my back went – I was unable to walk, to do anything – and was eventually taken to hospital.

I suspect the two issues are linked in some way which I’m not entirely sure how, but late January 2012 I attended an event held by Publicasity and the British Chiropractic Association, which went into issues a lot of mums (and dads) have relating to back pain.

I want to try to cover some of what I learned, and include some useful links so if you find yourself in that position, it might be of some help. All guidance came from Tim Hutchful and Louise Hampton from the BCA.

My first chat was with Tim – he told us how we often don’t pick things up from the floor correctly, putting extra strain on our back – and what we actually should be doing is raising a leg to give us balance. Try dropping a pen on the floor and bending down to get it – it’s not great – but if you try again raising a leg, you’ll find you have better balance.

Everything comes down to posture; to quote Tim “The ideal posture would allow for a plumb line to hang straight through your ear, shoulder, hip, knee and ankle. Try and stand in a relaxed way but gently contracting your abdominal muscles. When sitting, the same is true. The gravity line should pass thorough ear, shoulder and hip.” Did you know that when you’re sitting down, you’re actually using 150% strain on your back? (that is from memory, I need to double-check so am apologising now if it’s wrong!) As for slouching in front of the tv (guilty as charged, with my history, not good), that’s bad. A settee is not a good chair to be sitting in – it’s really bad for your posture. The ideal sitting position is to make sure your body has as much contact as possible with the chair, so it’s kept supported.

We talked about bags. Most mums have their lovely fancy changing bags, and actually they can often be bad for your back – ideally something like a rucksack which spreads the weight across your back is better – the same goes for laptops, and anything you’d carry in this way.

The one that surprised me was the potential for back trouble if you have a badly fitting bra. Most women don’t get correctly fitted and measured (from experience, the one time I did she didn’t measure me, she just kept bringing me bras she thought would fit) – there’s some tell-tale signs you’re wearing the wrong size – the underband rides up (lift your arms – and check if the underwire is still against the body), the shoulder straps dig in (the straps provide 20 percent of support – if the straps dig in then the underband may be too loose), the centre fold is lifting away from the body (possibly too small cup), or the back band is over stretched.

We were shown more practical situations we could all improve on – one was baby carriers – slings aren’t great for your posture (gulp) – try going for the ones which strap baby across you and criss-cross across the back, rather than go over one shoulder. When picking up your baby/toddler, hold them as close as possible to you and your hip, changing sides as often as possible.

How about playing? I had no idea what was going on with my knees, there were weird bits on them, but apparently loads of people get them – fluid on the knee, due to kneeling down playing with your little one. To help combat this and improve the line of posture, try kneeling on a cushion. I suggested sitting cross-legged, and was advised to sit on a cushion while doing this, as it’s an okay posture, as you’re evenly balanced.

When you’re sitting in front of a computer all day, I found that setting a reminder on my computer to check my posture every 15 minutes, and after three (ie 45 minutes) standing up, also helped a lot. I can get quite engrossed in my work… “Your seat should be adjusted so that your feet are flat on the ground, your knees bent, but with a slope from your hips to your knees. You should end up with your hips higher than your knees and your eyes level with the top of the computer screen. You may need to put the screen on a stand or even on a ream of paper to bring it to the right height.”

If you’re using a laptop, it’s worth investing in a separate keyboard and mouse to use when at home to use in a more back friendly manner.

As a knitter, I was told it’s good to sit in a chair which moves – like a rocking chair, as your posture wont be great while doing this, but with you moving around a lot, you’re getting support for the rest of your body – and take lots of breaks! My rocking chair is my feeding chair – and also with feeding make sure you’re giving yourself good support – your arms shouldn’t hold the baby’s weight. Try investing in a ‘V Pillow’ too, for additional support.

Exercise-wise, we were recommended one we’ve done in Pilates classes – the Star Exercise – I’ve linked to an article on eHow which explains it a little better, you essentially keep your back straight (core muscles at work – imagine you’ve a tea-tray on there which you don’t want to spill) and raise alternate arms and legs – our Pilates instructor liked to call it the Superman one (that seems to be another much more difficult one though) – but this works your abs to keep your pelvis stable.

It goes without saying, the one exercise they drum into you at ante-natal classes, the pelvic floor is extremely important. As someone who had a c-section, I’ve heard so many other mums who had one saying “oh I’m okay, I had a c-section, I don’t need to do them” and then have problems – everyone should do them, even dads. I’ve found I’m more likely to do my pelvic floor if I think of something to associate it with – singing nursery rhymes! It helps though, especially with the breathing, as if I’m not doing something I think about it too much.

One suggestion we had as far as overall balance goes was to stand on one foot when we clean our teeth, to help posture again. If we get pretty well-balanced, try doing it with our eyes closed – again, it’s helping the core muscles work and improving overall balance.

I have to say, I found the event really helpful – I got answers to things that other people hadn’t been able to give me. Six months after it all happened to me, I still have minor backache; it’s something I wish I’d done things to help strengthen and improve – everything we were taught was common sense. I met some other bloggers at the event, who all have their own accounts of the day – they’re all worth reading as we all had different issues, so where I’ve waffled, they may have said it in a far more coherent way!

The Healthy Back Blog – this blog is essential and comes from Louise Hampton, a mum and chiropractor
Tim Hutchful’s blog – full of more useful advice
Emmy’s Mummy
I Heart Motherhood
Me The Man and the Baby

Thank you to Tim and Louise at BCP and Aaron at Publicasity!