Mobility exercises for the lower back

Our body loves movement and mobility exercises for the back are a great way to help get movement in the spine. This can help keep the spine healthy and can also help reduce pain.

This post has a few simple exercises to do just that.

How many, how often and when should they be done?

This will vary and depend on a few variables and the most important thing is trying to find what works best for you. To start with I would recommend picking a few and doing ten to twelve repetitions one to two times per day. Another good tip is to do one you like often throughout the day as a “movement snack” (a future post will cover movement snacks in more detail later on.

The exercises

How diet impacts pain

Low back pain is the leading cause of disability in the UK, with around 9 million living with it. It’s well known that appropriate physical activity can help reduce back pain, but did you know that what you eat can have an effect on your pain too? Here’s how diet impacts back pain.

The effects of anti-inflammatory diets on back pain
Research carried out by the University of Pittsburgh found that anti-inflammatory diets, that is diets containing whole grains and lots of fruits and vegetables, were better for back pain. The diets of almost 4,000 back pain sufferers were evaluated and each person was given a score depending on how likely their diet was to cause inflammation in the body. Higher scores meant a person consumed more foods that were likely to cause inflammation. Significantly, those who had the most inflammatory diets had a 42% higher chance of having low back pain than those with the least inflammatory diets. Why is this so significant? It’s because pain is commonly associated with inflammation.

The role of inflammation in pain
We tend to think of inflammation as a bad thing. However, acute inflammation in response to injury or illness is an important part of the immune response that kickstarts the healing and repair process. It’s the chronic low grade inflammation that lasts for months or years that can have an incredibly detrimental impact on physical and mental health.

While most peoples back pain is mechanical in nature, the amount of low grade infammation in the body will impact the level of pain we feel from it and how well we recover. Some people’s onset of pain might be the result of an injury sustained in the gym, a car accident, or just from sleeping awkwardly. But it’s worth understanding how diet impacts back pain to make changes that might help recovery.

What foods increase inflammation in the body
Foods that cause inflammation in the body include:
 Sugary, fizzy drinks
 Highly processed foods. These contain lots of addiatives. that increase inflammation

 Refined vegetable oils-these are very processed and contain omega-6 fats which cause
inflammation, especially when heated.

Reduce inflammation in your diet to reduce back pain

Eating lots of anti-inflammatory foods won’t have an instant impact on your pain, but it can help over time. It will also help improve your overall health and help you maintain a healthy weight which can reduce back pain.

Include more of these foods in your diet:
Fruits and vegetables- the more colourful the better for more anti-inflammatory nutrients.
Vegetables like watercress and broccoli have been shown to have strong anti-inflammatory

Omega-3 fats- consuming more omega-3s can help create a healthier balance between anti- inflammatory omega-3s and omega-6s which cause inflammation. Eat more salmon and sardines, and add flax or chia seeds to smoothies and salads.
Virgin olive oil- there’s a compound in virgin olive oil called oleocanthal, which has been shown to have anti-inflammatory and pain relieving effects. Anti-inflammatory spices- spices such as ginger, turmeric, and cinnamon can help decrease inflammation in the body.

Pay attention to the way you cook foods
So your diet impacts back pain, but the way you cook foods could as well. A 2017 meta-analysis found that frying, roasting, microwaving, searing, or grilling meats, fish, and eggs produces compounds that could trigger an inflammatory response in the body. Sorry, BBQ lovers!

To be on the safe side, steaming, simmering, and braising is better.

That doesnt mean we should never cook in this way or eat these foods. Moderation is key here and understanding these influences to make an informed choice.

Diet is one of many factors of lifestyle that influence pain. To learn more about diet and other aspects keep an eye out on my social media and the betterbackchat newsletter where ill be sharing more info and tips.

Mark – Chiropractor and Lifestyle medicine clinician.



Welcome to this blog about pacing and pain management! Pacing is a great way to gain control over your persistent pain symptoms, become more active and ultimately lead a healthier lifestyle. We’ll be exploring how pacing can help you experience less pain, have more energy and have a better social life. So, join us as we look at the positive changes that people with pain can make by using pacing.

Living with pain can be a challenge when it comes to striking the right balance between doing too much and doing too little. Do you find yourself stuck in a cycle of over-activity and under-activity? If you’re looking for a tool to help you take control of your pain, then pacing might be the answer.

What is pacing?

Pacing is a great tool for managing persistent pain as it helps you to gradually increase your activity levels, become fitter and healthier. It’s about knowing when to take a break from an activity before pain, tiredness or other symptoms become too much. You break up activities into active and rest periods, which reduces pain and helps you to achieve more. Pacing is taking a break before you need a break. It can help you reach your goals without your pain increasing or fatigue forcing you to stop.

People living with persistent pain find that pacing is one of the most important skills to learn and use. It’s not about decreasing the intensity of an exercise or doing less activity. Instead, it’s about changing the way you approach activities or exercises to help you increase strength and stamina.

Pacing is a tool that helps you increase your tolerance through gradually increased activity. The main benefit of pacing is that it gives structure to your day, helping you to feel more in control. As you keep practising, the amount you can do will gradually grow.

What is your adaptive coping strategy?

We all use different strategies when managing pain. Some are more helpful than others. Unhelpful strategies include over-activity (doing too much activity or too many tasks over a short space of time), under-activity (doing too little activity), and ‘boom and bust’ (using pain and energy levels as a guide to activity, which leads to a cycle of over-activity and under-activity). (feeling good one day and then doing lots, only to realise later that it was too much!)

Next, let’s explore how to switch to a pacing style and adopt a more useful strategy to manage persistent pain and lead a healthier lifestyle.

How to do pacing

1) Establish a baseline

Your baseline is the level of activity you can do without your pain flaring up or you becoming too fatigued. To begin, you need to establish a baseline for each activity. It’s important to not compare your starting level of activity to what you used to do before your pain or injury, as this can lead to an over-activity/under-activity cycle.

2) Plan your day and activity

Once you have established your baseline, it’s time to time your activities and plan ahead. You can use an effort scale of 1-10 to assess the effort level of an activity and make sure you don’t overdo it. For example, you may decide that cleaning the kitchen windows is a level 6 on your effort scale.

Aim for an effort level of 4-7 on the scale. If it’s 3 or less, experiment with spending more time on the activity and/or doing it faster. If it’s 8 or more, reduce it with more breaks and/or by doing it for a shorter time.

You can also plan to perform activities in chunks of time with rest periods. The rest periods could include stretching or relaxation breathing to help you manage your pain level while completing the task. Plus, you can make the rest period enjoyable by doing activities like listening to music or talking with a friend.

It’s also important to remember to pace yourself during sedentary activities like sitting, reading, and computer work. These activities are often overlooked when pacing but can still cause pain due to the constant stress on the neck and back.

Once you have set your baseline, you should gradually increase your tolerance. Use goal setting to help you, set short- and long-term goals and involve others in your pacing plan.

Now you know the basics of pacing and how it can help you take control of your persistent pain. So, why not give it a try and see the positive changes it can make in your life.

If you would like any further help with your pain you can book in for an appointment with Mark or look out for some of our workshops.

Mark Jessop- Chiropractor/ Better back coach

Goal setting

Value Based Goal Setting

One of the things that is important to establish when starting treatment or even if you are having continuing treatment for a longer term or recurring issue is…. what you are hoping to achieve?

Why are you here? Why have you sought treatment?

An instinctive answer is to say “get rid of pain” or “reduce pain” or “stop pain coming back”

They are all useful answers and a main driver as to why people will seek care. But we want to delve deeper than that. Why do you want to get rid of the pain? Why have you sought treatment now and not earlier or at a later date?

Being in pain can change lots of things and make you feel like a different person.  It can prevent us doing things that matter to us. Pain can:

  • make us do less overall
  • mean we do less of or even stop things we enjoy

Lets think about what your pain means for you….

  • What does it interfere with?
  • Does it stop you doing anything?
  • Are there activities that are not as enjoyable anymore because of the pain?

If I had a magic wand and I said to you that tomorrow you would not have to worry about your pain. What would that mean? How would your life be different?

Choose one or two activities or examples and write them down.  Then quantify where you are on a scale of 1-10 in relation to being able to do that activity. 0 is you can’t even contemplate doing anything at all related to it and 10 is you can do it without any issues at all.

This is important as it can shift our mindset to a towards a goal rather than away from pain. Moving towards a goal as opposed to away from pain is a subtle change but can make a big difference. It helps us develop a solution focused mindset and approach. Below is a video of our Chiropractor Mark talking about value based goal setting.

SMART goals

Now we have a goal and our reason why it can be good to get even more clear with it by making it into a SMART goal. SMART is an acronym that stands for

S Specific

M Measurable

A Attainable

R Relavent

T Time bound

For example a goal of “I want to get fitter” turns into “In one month I would like to be able to run 1K or 1000 meters without stopping”

Another example “I want to be able to play with my grandkids” turns into “by the start of the school holidays in 4 weeks I would like to be able to push my grandkids on the swings for more than 5 minues”

Below is a video of our Chiropractor Mark talking about SMART goal setting.

Chiropractor Mark talking about SMART goals

Goal setting is a valuable aspect for treatment and self management of pain. I hope you have found this useful.

Mark Jessop- Chiropractor at Prime Therapy Clinic

Is your back pain serious?

There are many different reasons people get back pain and many consequences for those experiencing it. In this blog I am going to look at if it is serious or not. 

First of all, what do we mean by serious?  Very rarely back pain can be caused by a sinister pathology. Things such as cancer, infection, and fracture can all affect the bones in the back and if this is the cause of someone’s back pain it needs immediate medical attention.  As I said earlier the vast majority of the time this is not likely to be the case… but sometimes it can be, so what are the signs and symptoms to watch out for to see if further investigation is needed. 

What could indicate a more serious cause of your back pain?

There is also a worksheet to fill out and help with this too which can be downloaded here

If it is not caused by a sinister pathology, which is more than 99% of the time, does that mean it is not serious? 

Just because back pain is not due to a sinister pathology does not mean it can’t have a serious effect. It can affect mood, social activities, work and have a big impact on quality of life. 

In fact when you look at the statistics they show just how much of a serious issue back pain is for society. Back pain has been the leading cause of disability in the UK (and the rest of the world) since 1990 and levels of disability are increasing! The reasons for this are complex and multifactorial but part of it is that some of our medical interventions have made things worse. Inappropriate use of opioid medication, over utilisation of imaging such as x-ray and MRI scans and too much surgery when not required.

Things are starting to change. We are getting a much better appreciation of the science and biology behind why we experience pain and the biology of back pain. This is leading to a greater understanding of things that help and also importantly things that don’t! 

Back pain is common and can affect anyone. The vast majority of the time it is not due to a serious pathology but that does not mean it shouldn’t be dismissed as there can be serious consequences of back pain in lost quality of life and as a cause of disability. Understanding pain is key so you can make the right choices. When it comes to back pain a multifactorial approach that also focuses on wider aspects of lifestyle and wellbeing is paramount to addressing it and stopping it having such a negative influence on your life. 

When is back pain more than just back ache?

This blog post is inspired by a few talks that were given at the Royal College of Chiropractors annual conference which I attended a couple of weeks ago. It is about a certain type of inflammatory arthritis (Axial Spondyloarthritis) that can cause back pain and stiffness in the spine. The talks focused on how Chiropractors can help identify these patients and enable them to get diagnosed earlier. They outlined the role Chiropractors can have in the management of patients with this type of inflammatory arthritis so they can be helped with Chiropractic care in our clinics.

Professor Karl Gaffney, Consultant Rheumatologist giving a talk
Professor Karl Gaffney, Consultant Rheumatologist

Continue reading “When is back pain more than just back ache?”

Walking to help ease and prevent back pain

Walking is probably the cheapest and most accessible form of exercise there is. Hippocrates called it “mans best medicine”. Find out below how you can use walking to prevent back pain.

Walking to prevent back pain

In 2018 The British Journal of Sports Medicine published a special edition that looked specifically at the health benefits of walking to mark the 21st Anniversary of a really important paper called walk to health by Morris and Hardman. What this paper did 21 years ago was shifted the focus of health benefit away from just vigorous activity in the form of structured exercise regimes, but instead highlighted the fact that benefits can also be achieved through moderate activity such as walking. The 2018 special edition was a review and update on this research and it essentially highlighted further that walking is brilliant for health, is cheap and accessible. In the conclusion they say it represents a “best buy for public health”

Video on the health benefits of walking

There is research that exercise helps with back pain. But what about walking? Can walking help prevent or reduce back pain, and if so how much and how often? Continue reading “Walking to help ease and prevent back pain”

What works best for low back pain?

If you have back pain it can be frustrating and is not a nice experience. It can stop you doing the things you enjoy and can also be quite worrying. It inevitably will lead you to having a lot of questions. You quite rightly want to know what works best for low back pain. What can you do to help yourself to get better and is there anything you shouldn’t do, that may hinder recovery.

However it can be annoying when you hear contradictory advice. And there are plenty of opinions and advice when it comes to back pain! Who do you believe? What should you do?

Continue reading “What works best for low back pain?”

5 step guide to recover from a new (less than 6 weeks) onset of low back pain

A bout of back pain can be extremely frustrating as well as worrysome. It is also very common with over 80% of people experiencing it in their lifetime.

What should you do if you have back pain? 

back pain

Recent research and guidelines suggest education about back pain should form an integral part of treatment. Learning about back pain- what causes it and the expected recovery times, as well as knowing the right things to do (and what not to do) can be really effective in helping you recover more quickly.

This back pain educational guide has been developed by Grantham Chiropractor Mark Jessop. It has been developed using the recent Lancet series publication on low back pain (published March 2018) which summarises all the best research to date about the prevention and treatment of low back pain.

This 5 step recovery guide is specific to a new onset of back pain which has been present for less than 6 weeks. It is also known as acute low back pain.

Continue reading “5 step guide to recover from a new (less than 6 weeks) onset of low back pain”