Change the habit

You can’t go back in time but you can make the decision that right now is the time to change. For back pain that could be doing a few minutes of your spine exercises every day. You should have been given a personalised exercise program with myself or Sarah, but if you haven’t then ask us at your next appointment. Or, if you want something more challenging, then just ask.

Only about 20% of patients will regularly do their exercises, despite knowing that it is beneficial for their back pain. So we try to keep it simple and limit things to 2 or 3 exercises that only take 2 or 3 minutes to complete daily. Failing at daily exercises? Once a week is better than not at all.

You can even start by doing just one exercise, the important part is starting. Once you’ve established the habit and feel your back getting stronger (and hopefully less painful), you can start with a second or a third exercise.

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Take on a new physical challenge

It could be couch to 5k, a 10k or even cycling to the shops or into town. Or perhaps a walk in any one of the parks or green spaces that Leeds is blessed with. It can be as gentle or as strenuous as you like, just get started and build the habit (do you see a theme emerging here?).

You may be asking do I practise what I preach? Well I try to! But we are all human and at some points in life I’m more successful than others. My attitude is so I’d I try and fail, at least I’m further on than if I hadn’t have tried at all. So a couple of weekends ago I took part in an ultramarathon trail race, a 32 mile course over the Pennines starting and ending in Howarth. It was the furthest I have ever run and over very hilly terrain. I hadn’t trained sufficiently but I completed it and learned a few lessons along the way.

  • Eating a hot dog, chip butty and doughnuts at the feed stations on the way round is probably not what the faster runners do. I did turn down the free whisky shot though as you approached Stoodley Pike!
  • More regular training would have been helpful

As I’m already signed up to a 40 something mile event in June, I’ve hopefully learnt from some of these mistakes and have a 12 week training plan sorted. As for the eating, as a novice ultra runner, I see these events as one long picnic with a few miles of running in between and hopefully that will get me round.