16 January 2020

Why Does My Back Hurt After Christmas?

Without question, there is always a surge in the number of enquiries we receive in January from people suffering with a bad back following their Christmas break.

Coincidence? Not really, no. Thinking about what the festive period involves for many people, it’s little surprise that some people end up with more than gifts under the tree at Christmas as back pain theratens to bring you down in the new year.

Lots of sitting around…

Arguably one of the most common causes of back pain over the season. As much as we enjoy a TV-marathon, our bodies are designed to move. It’s what keeps our joints healthy, muscles working and circulation pumping.

There are a number of reasons why sitting around may be contributing to your back playing up:

The primary function of our core muscles is to keep us upright and stabilise us when we’re moving, so when we sit down, they switch off. Over time, this can cause them to weaken, meaning your spine has less support and is more vulnerable.

Furthermore, being in a seated position shortens your psoas muscles. Starting at your spine and attaching to your leg, they are largely responsible for flexing your leg at the hip. Any muscle which is in a shortened state for a long period, adaptively shortens itself and this can cause it to pull from where it attaches to the spine, negatively adjusting your posture and causing misbalances in your back muscles.

In addition to this, the positioning of your spine in a seated position increases the pressure on your intevertebral discs (the squishy cushions in between the bones in your spine) by up to 50%, more if your posture is poor.

This increase in pressure compresses the discs, reducing the cushioning and shock absorbing function in your spine, as well as causing more pressure on the wall of the disc which can leave you vulnerable to ‘slipped’ or bulging discs.

…Followed by an increase in activity

It’s no great shock that the most common new year’s resolution is to get ‘in shape’. Most of us have probably resolved to be leaner, stronger or fitter at some point as a new year dawns.

Given the information above about the likelihood of having a weakened core and tightened muscles though, going all out on a new regime with gusto at the start of the year could be quite damaging, especially if you start doing something you’ve never done before, challenging your already deconditioned body to do things it’s not used to.

Instead, build up gently. Ease yourself into it and make sure you incorporate flexibility and core work into your routine to address any weaknesses you may have.

Finally, listen to your body. Take care not to push yourself beyond your limits, or risk further damage. Ultimately, your back will thank you for being stronger and more active so look after it as you enjoy a more mobile 2020.

If your back is feeling sore and stiff after your Christmas break and you would like to speak to a specialist for an assessment and to discuss treatment options, we would like to invite you to a complimentary 60-minute consultation. To register, click here, complete the form and we’ll be in touch to make your booking.