Saturday, 22 June 2013

Exercises for Lower Back Pain

Referring back to the Telegraph's list of things that confirm that you are old, aching backs were one of the things I said yes too.

It happens not irregularly, unfortunately, but at least this time, unlike last year, it hasn't happened on the day before we due to leave on our summer holidays!

I have been researching ways to strengthen my back and my core, in order to try and prevent further relapses.

I am not very good at drawing, but I promise to try to illustrate the positions once I can manage something a little better than stick-figures!! That will have to be a later update though, for now, I will have to describe them to you;

1. Lying on your back, arms outstretched, feet flat on the floor (knee's up) and approximately shoulder-width apart. Try for a pilates-style 'neutral' position so that your back is neither arched up nor flat against the floor. Twist your knees to the floor and twist your head to face the opposite direction. Take deep breaths & try to keep your tummy pulled into your spine and hold the position for a count of 10. Return to the starting position and then repeat in the opposite direction.

2. On all fours - hands and knees approximately shoulder-width apart and with back neither arched nor dipped, pull your tummy to your spine & carefully stretch your left hand forwards and your right leg backwards. Hold for a count of 10 whilst breathing deeply & then repeat with the opposite side. Once you begin to find this easy, try to bring your arm and leg back to the starting position without placing them on the floor, and then stretch them out again... try for 12 repetitions on either side.

3. Again, starting on your hands and knee's - both approximately shoulder-width apart, back neither arched nor dipped & tummy pulled in to spine (you'll get bored of me telling you this), then gently pull your bottom back to sit on your heels, without moving your hands (this is quite good for stretching the back out & I find it helps greatly when my back is actually aching).

4. Start by lying on your front with your hands flat on the floor near your shoulders, elbows flat along the floor. Gently push yourself up leaving your forearms braced on the floor and gently arch your back, as always, try to keep your tummy tucked into your spine as much as is possible and breathe deeply!

5. Try to touch the floor; start by standing up straight and tall. Imagine that your head is being pulled towards the ceiling, but try to keep your shoulders low and away from your ears. Stand with your feet roughly shoulder-width apart (just for a change) and roll down gradually - keeping, as always, your tummy pulled in towards your spine. Try to stay relaxed, if at first you find that you can't touch the floor first try, try not to touch the floor next to your feet, try for further away or put a block or stepping stool down to reach to. Gradually, walk your hands off the step-stool and towards your feet. This is probably not a wise one to try whilst your back is aching, but it is a good one to use after the aching has subsided as it stregnthens the back and helps to prevent relapse!

6. Finally; and I think the easiest. Try to keep walking. Believe me, when I tell you, that I know it can be very hard to walk when your back feels like it is in spasm... but it is totally worth the effort. The more you keep it moving, the easier it will become and the faster it will improve. Just don't overdo it in case you make it worse!

So there you go! The Autumn Voices hints and tips for those with a bad back! Although, I think the best advice that I can give you, is what my husband told me... never, ever, clean the bathroom & the fishtank the day before you are due to go on your main family summer holiday!

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

In the Garden

Ok, according to the Telegraph today, a keen interest in gardening is one of the signs of aging.

I read that list, and scored 27 out of 50... I thought I would have scored higher than that if I'm honest, but my ability to use modern technology appears to have saved me!

I am certainly not an obsessive gardener, and I don't feed the birds at all, with two cats (who would quite gleefully eat them) it seems cruel somehow to tempt the poor little things into our garden... and so we don't! However, I have discovered a fondness for our outdoor space.

Some years ago, an estate agent informed us that what we consider to be our garden cannot actually be classed as a garden. Whether this is due to the lack of grass or it's rather diminutive size, we never sought to clarify. We do grow plants in both containers and in the ground. We still don't have any grass (neither of us like mowing the lawn, so it would be pointless), but we have recently started to grow vegetables in our garden.

This is a plan (sadly to scale) of our "walled courtard" (sounds nicer than 'yard' doesn't it?).
Anyway, as you can no doubt see, our house (mid-terrace, 2 bed Victorian Town house) is to the left (the part sticking out into the garden is our kitchen, (yes, to scale) which along with the bathroom above it, we suspect was added on to the original building sometime between 1930-1960. In case you are interested, the original outhouse (demolished loing before either of us lived here) was roughly where our shrub border and veg patch now stand.

Since I drew this rough plan a week or so back, we have since placed a small, plastic greenhouse (which we have borrowed from my Mum) to the left of the shed, in the 'planter border.
The Greenhouse
Ok, granted, it isn't the prettyest of greenhouses, nor the largest. At this point, it isn't even actually in use! However, it has 4 shelves and will do quite nicely. Oh and it fits in our tiny walled courtyard, so it's all good.

I do need to pot on some seedlings, currently on the sitting room window ledge, which I am hoping to do this evening, provided that the weather holds out.

So there we are. My descent into old age has begun with back breaking (which tagged at least another 3 onto my score) hard work, but with the promise of vegetables in the autumn.
In case you are interested (or curious, a keen interest may make you old too), we have already planted or are going to plant;
  • Strawberries

  • Potatoes
  • Sweetcorn

  • Tomatoes

  • Midget Gem Lettuce
  •  Mange Tout

  • Cucumber (no picture yet)
  • Carrots (no picture yet)
  • Leeks (no picture yet)
  • Onions (no picture yet)
  • Padron Peppers  (no picture yet)
I am very much looking forward to my first batch of home grown leek and potato soup!