Back pain: tips and help – What’s really good

Berlin. Back pain is a common condition. According to the federal government’s health monitor, 61% of women and men suffer from it, 15.5% even chronically. “Sad, but true”, says a sports teacher Ulrich Kuhnt, President of the Federal Association of Back Schools. A conversation about the requirements of a pain free back.

Mr. Kuhnt, why does Germany so often have his back?

Back problems have always existed and will always exist. This is partly due to the fact that the spine has a very complicated structure. Many joints and over 200 muscles are involved in their function.

What’s the biggest problem?



In the past, people mainly performed physically demanding activities. In agriculture, for example, or in mining. There are still today strains caused by intense physical effort, for example in top sports, in logistics, in landscaping or in care. It can become too much for the spine. But for most people, that’s not the issue.

So what is it?

People lack physical activity. The spine, designed for movement, receives too little stimuli. The back is deformed.

how to come

It is a consequence of our modern life, of our modern mobility. The Federal Center for Health Education recommends at least two and a half hours of endurance activity per week and strength training twice a week for adults. However, most people do not achieve these times and goals, as all the statistics show. There are many arguments for not having to play sports.

And then at some point it crashes in the back?

Here we have to differentiate. Acute symptoms come suddenly – a joint gets stuck, the intervertebral disc annoys me, the nerves are pinched. Acute pain usually subsides within six weeks. In 98% of cases, however, there is no damage that causes back pain. But tension, also triggered by stress, worries or fears.


In your book, you write that people often react incorrectly to back pain. What do you mean?

For many affected, the pain is an indication to be even more careful and take it easy instead of counteracting the pain with moderate movements. The pain can then lodge in the brain. He traces a wide trail in memory. Chronic back pain, which affects many people and leads to enormous costs in therapy and lost working days, often no longer has causes in the back itself.


How do people move more?

First of all, you have to accept that many people practice little sport or are reluctant to take classes. It is therefore necessary to integrate the movement into everyday life. We must place the obstacles very low.


Can you give examples?

So: I carry my luggage myself when I travel, for example, instead of having it carried. I play movement games with my grandson. I trimmed the hedge with mechanical pruners and I still open my garage door by hand. I also cycle often and like to walk. It’s not about having big muscles. Above all, I need muscle harmony and good coordination. And I don’t have to invest a penny for it.

What little tricks do you recommend to get you started?

When drying off after the shower, alternately place one outstretched leg on a stool or on the edge of the tub. Stretch your leg muscles. When brushing your teeth, lift one leg first, then the other. Or crouch down while shopping when you need products from the bottom shelf. Push your butt back and rest your elbows on your thighs.


Little things like that help?

Above all, the back needs muscle balance and coordination. The muscles should be checked regularly. And very important: Sitting is really the number one enemy of the back. Get up and move as often as possible. And if you work from home, get a desk accessory so you can stand in front of the computer.

How long will it take me to be successful with things like this?

It is important that you feel: I can do something, the symptoms are really decreasing. It’s a matter of self-efficacy. After that you can do more. Do yoga, for example, just a few minutes. Or seated exercises with the ball. We need to embrace exercise as part of recovery to change our behavior. We don’t have to turn our lives upside down for that.

They criticize an overly medical approach to many back problems. What do you mean?

It is sometimes thought that if it is enough to take more and more x-rays or to measure vertebrae and operate on intervertebral discs, then the problems will be solved. But my experience shows something else: images and operations alone are rarely the solution.


What do you suggest instead?

Of course, we need orthopedics and physiotherapy, of course. But you should never see the back in isolation. It is part of a larger system. It is important that the person acquires a skill. He needs to connect his head and body, get enough exercise and eat healthy. It’s a back-friendly lifestyle. And that includes our attitudes. Being empathetic, for example, being able to relax and deal with stress. I advocate more holism.

To no one


Ulrich Kuhnt is a sports teacher and runs the back school in Hannover. He is chairman of the Federal Association of German Back Schools (BdR) and technical advisor to the Healthy Back campaign.

The 63-year-old already has several books on back health writing. The last is entitled: “The back book for the lazy”, published by Trias-Verlag.

Tuesday, March 29, 2022, 4:59 p.m.

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