When some people think of the back, they imagine the spine as a structure that is weak and vulnerable to injury.
This couldn’t be further from the truth, our spines have evolved to be highly mobile and strong (they do protect the spinal cord, one of our most important structures).
They are designed to allow us to bend, twist, reach and lift. These are all fundamental movements needed for everyday life and are still relevant today, despite a decreased dependence on these movements for our survival.
Increases in sedentary behaviour both recreationally and occupationally are in a large part to blame for the huge prevalence of back pain.
In fact, back pain costs society more than Diabetes and Cancer combined!
When we think of low back pain in particular, people are quick to point the finger at certain structures and blame them for causing pain.
You may have heard terms like “wear and tear”, “trapped nerves” and “bulging discs”.
These can sometimes reinforce the idea that your spine is damaged and it is dangerous to move.
However, research has shown that the above terms are misleading and are not responsible for the majority of pain.
See for yourself in the table below, which demonstrates “abnormalities” on MRI’s in people WITHOUT any back pain.
These “abnormalities” can actually be considered a normal part of ageing, and can be thought of as getting grey hairs on the inside (harmless and a normal part of ageing).
People are often surprised by this and are then curious as to what is the best way to reduce their chances of getting back pain.
Just like dietary advice, we advocate a little bit of everything over one approach alone.
Leading a healthy lifestyle, minimising stress, increasing mobility, general exercise and back strengthening are all very effective strategies. However, people are often slow to begin back strengthening as there is the misconception that lifting objects our doing specific back strengthening exercises can cause back pain.
But there is no reason the back should be treated any differently to any other body part.
It’s important that your back muscles are strong and well conditioned so that you can carry out daily tasks.
See below an example of back strengthening exercises that we commonly prescribe as a “rehab” or “prehab” exercise.
While it’s important when lifting heavy weights to use correct technique, when you are lifting lighter objects it is okay and in fact we encourage you not to be afraid to bend your back.
This is because we know when people avoid certain movements because of fear of causing pain (known as “kinesiophobia”), this can lead to deconditioning of the back muscles (reduced strength endurance) and can actually increase your risk of back pain.
So don’t be afraid to move your back, and take note that lifting objects during the day can be used as an exercise for your back.
Scroll down and listen to our video testimonial from John Aherns where he shares his story of how we helped him with his persistent back pain.
If you have any queries or you are not quite sure where to begin, feel free to contact us online/ over the phone or you can avail of a free 15 minute physio taster consultation in clinic with one of our physiotherapists. You can book online at https://www.apcphysio.ie/speak-with-physio/ Or
Give us a call on 02535015 today to talk through any questions and concerns you may have. Thanks for reading!