17 Apr Should I do exercise with back pain?
In today’s blog, Exercise Physiologist Erin Parish gives us the low down on whether you should exercise when you have back pain.
Back pain, whether it’s chronic or acute is absolutely no fun. From utterly devastating (meaning you can’t move), to the annoying niggle that is “just always there” that you put up with, which may stop you doing all of the things you’d like to.
Exercise Right state that 80% of Aussies will be effected by an episode of back pain at least once in their life….. yes, 80%. Which means that you can probably relate to some form of back pain. Maybe you’re experiencing it now. Perhaps you live with it every day. There’s every chance that either you, or someone you know is in the position where their back pain rules their life. It dictates all of the things that they can, and can’t do. There’s also a really good chance it makes you (or them) miserable.
Back pain can arise from a number of things such as an injury, chronic conditions, degeneration of the spine. However, more commonly, it is a product of the kind of environment we live in today. We spend long hours sitting, usually in front of a screen. We have an abundance of convenience, resulting in a significant drop in how active we are day to day. We also live lives that are high in stress and lacking in quality sleep, which can contribute to back pain.
Traditionally back pain has been managed from a very medical perspective. Medication to relieve pain and inflammation, rest and perhaps some simple stretches (at an absolute stretch! Ha… see what I did there). Then, if that doesn’t work it can be a referral for cortisone injections and a date with a spinal surgeon. I know this seems exaggerated, but unfortunately this was the exact case I had last week. A mid-30 year old, relatively active guy prescribed anti-inflammatories and stretches, with the view that if this didn’t help he would be given a referral to a spinal surgeon. I believe my words where “What The F*@k?!” – as a general rule I don’t swear in front of clients, but this was an exception!
Chronic pain is an incredibly complex issue. The human body is so very intelligent and will pull out every trick possible to keep us safe. Pain is the simplest way to tell us “stop what you’re doing”. Hence why we, somewhat instinctively, feel that movement and exercise is not safe if our back is hurting.
I’m here to tell you that exercise and movement is incredible medicine for back pain, niggles and stiffness. It is also one of the leading preventative measures for avoiding future back pain or reducing flares. Especially when it’s prescribed by a professional who understands this and knows how to deliver safe exercise for every individual. There is more research now into the benefits of exercise prescription for the management of back pain. You may have caught THIS VIDEO on The Project a few weeks ago – (it’s worth a quick watch if not).
As an Exercise Physiologist there’s a few things I like to consider when helping you manage your back pain.
- Posture: it’s so important! What is your default posture, how could this be impacting pain levels?
- Deep abdominal control: or ‘core’ activation, do you have stability when you move?
- Glute activation: do your butt muscles work?
- Movement Patterns: when you move do you do if efficiently?
- Muscular tightness: are there areas of tightness making your posture poor or limiting good muscle activation?
- Muscular weakness: can we improve any of the above by developing strength and endurance of muscles?
The final, but most important things that I consider….
- What would you like to be able to do that you currently can’t do?
- How would you like your back to feel?
- How important is achieving these things to you?
Because at the end of the day the value you place on having control of your life and being able to participate in active things like walking your dog, playing with the kids, travelling overseas, playing sport, cleaning the house, having some fun in bed with your lover, feeling energised and comfortable throughout the day is the key factor in positive results.
If you have a cranky back and would love to experience some positive results I would be so very excited to support you on that journey. I have a strong focus on explaining what is happening with your body and why/how exercises can help. Knowledge is powerful.
I consult in North Adelaide on Thursdays, Fridays and one Saturday per month – you can BOOK ONLINE HERE
Also, for the MEN I may have just the class for you…. BACKS 4 BLOKES.
Yep a class dedicated to improving your back and this one is just for the gentlemen. Join me in North Adelaide on THURSDAYS @ 5.15pm for a 45-minute class. Classes are $20 and bookings are essential – BOOK ONLINE HERE