BACK PAIN: THE MYTHS
Eighty per cent of us will get lower back pain at some point, but contrary to popular belief, a massive majority will recover brilliantly, writes Andrew Byrne MCSP HCPC of True Physio, Whalley
The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy recently looked at the top four myths about lower back pain and the latest research that helps prove them wrong. We look at the first two biggest myths about back pain here and we’ll cover the others in the next edition.
Myth One: Moving will make my pain worse
In the initial (acute) stage movement can be uncomfortable and the pain debilitating. A short period of rest – 48 hours – is fine but after that it is important to reintroduce movement, building up to normal activity and a return to work as soon as possible.
Previous generations were often prescribed prolonged periods of bed rest which actually resulted in the back stabilising muscles getting weaker which meant hurting their back again was more likely. The chances of ongoing back pain were much higher, which is why older generations tend to have their fair share of lower back horror stories.
Unfortunately, because on the face of it, the pain got less during bed rest and got worse when they started doing more, people believed that movement was bad – it was only bad for their back because of the rest!
Myth Two: I should avoid exercise especially weight training
Exercise is generally recognised as being the best way to treat low back pain in the early and later stages. While no one type of exercise can be shown to be better there is agreement from medical experts, that exercise is great for your back.
The simplest guidance is to start off gently – in the acute stage a gentle 10 to 15 minute walk may be sufficient, before building up as discomfort reduces.
A quick story about me – three years ago, I prolapsed a couple of discs in my lower back, I had severe pain and was limited in what I could do for a couple of months despite my efforts to get moving. I had treatment, started doing regular strengthening exercises and my pain got better. And guess what? When I don’t do any exercise for about three weeks, my back starts to ache. If I do exercise, including heavy lifting two to three times a week, my back feels much better.
If I listened to the general consensus that lifting weights is bad for your back, I am sure I’d have had to have surgery on my back. Instead, I listened to some brilliant professionals (and myself) and live a pain-free life doing everything I want to do!
If you get back pain, you will be surrounded by people who have advice. A lot of the information and commonly held beliefs are just plain wrong, so please get professional advice. Physios see lower back pain all the time and are in a great position to work with you to get rid of your pain and get you back to doing the things you love.