In this blog post you are going to learn 5 ways you can improve back pain if you have had it for longer than 3 months!
Often lower back pain has many misconceptions, “Activate your core”, “don’t bend forward”, “use your knees to bend” are all common beliefs and recommendations when dealing with back pain….I am here to tell you that most of what you think is wrong. Read on and i’ll explain why.
You can get started on the points in this article as soon as when you finish, the results can begin to show anywhere from immediately to a few days if you do them now!
1: Relaxed breathing and movements are a must!
No you don’t need more ‘core’ activation. If anything you need to relax your breathing and think about relaxed movements. Most people think the back is a weak and fragile structure which needs ‘stability’ and ‘activation’ to prevent pain. This is true to a certain extent however, for people with long term back pain, they most likely need less of this!
“People with long term back pain tend to walk and move with a rigid posture. It is a protective mechanism which they have developed to protect their backs. It is also a false belief that after a back strain, you need to watch your posture and never bend forward.”
There are 2 things you can do to implement immediately:
- Lye on your back with your knees bent and practice breathing into your stomach, while relaxing your upper chest and lower back muscles. This is known as diaphragmatic breathing and will help you understand what a relaxed state feels like.
- Begin to move with the thought of being ‘relaxed’. This goes for bending forward, standing, walking and rolling, don’t worry about keeping your back straight, just think about ‘relaxed’ movements.
2: Get to work with a roller
Most often people with long term lower back pain have a heap of tension in their lower back muscles, gluteal muscles, abdomen and hamstrings. Using a foam roller or trigger point ball to roll out those bad boys is a great way to relieve tension without the need for a Physiotherapist.
Grab a ball or foam roller and get to work on those sticky tissues which just need to be released. After this you can properly work on your ‘relaxed movements’ as discussed in point 1.
3: Throw away your x rays, MRI scans and CT Scans
Unless you have a specific pathology such as spinal cord compression, ankylosing spondyltis, spondylolithesis, tumor, nerve root impingement or fracture, your scans tell you nothing about your back pain.
There is a massive misconception that things like arthritis and bulging discs cause pain in your back. For the most part, these are common findings and do not represent the reason or underlying cause of pain.
In a study of a group of people with NO BACK PAIN; 91% had disc degeneration, 64% had disc bulges and 32% had disc protrusions. Often changes on imaging are directly linked to pain, however there is a spoor correlation between changes on x ray and MRI and pain.
“It has actually been shown that people who get scanned with X ray or MRI have poorer outcomes compared to people who don’t. If you are looking for answers to back pain in a scan, you will surely not find them there.”
A big issue with scans is that they create fear and misconceptions in the individual. This then causes the person to move in a rigid and protected way, in an effort to prevent damage to their backs.
As we saw from previous points, we need to encourage relaxed and confident movements.
4: Aerobic exercise and Weight training
If you aren’t already physically active, you need to be. This especially goes for lower back pain.
Imagine sitting at your breakfast table, sitting in your car, sitting at work, sitting during lunch and sitting while watching T.V at night time? In all this time your back has been in the same position all day.
Now imagine you break up your day with periods of standing, stretches and sitting. In the morning or evening you go for a 30-60 minute walk or gym session where you get that back moving.
Exercise also acts as a natural opioid, the bodies own pain killer. It is extremely therapeutic and can help break the cycle of pain
Backs love movement, so get going!
5: Understand your emotions and thoughts
Negative thoughts, imagery and emotions can turn up your ‘pain volume’.
Thoughts such as “my back is damaged”, “I have arthritis in my back” “Pain is bad for me” can instill fear of movement, stress, anxiety and catastrophising thoughts into a person with back pain.
This can be a deep a complex subject for some people who have depressive symptoms. If you do have these than speaking to a psychologist is your first port of call.
“At the very least you can begin to realize the negative thoughts you have about your back, and then replacing them with others.”
“My back is damaged” turns into “Changes to my lower back are totally normal, and don’t necessarily contribute to pain”
“I have arthritis” turns into “Arthritis is a normal part of aging, it doesn’t mean I have to restrict my movement and it doesn’t always cause pain”
“If I bend my back forwards it will damage it” turns into “Movement is healthy for the back, my back loves to bend, stretch and flex”
If you want to understand how to get rid of your lower back pain, you will be interested in our Lower Back Expert Relief Session
In this expert relief session you will:
Receive a full comprehensive full body flexibility and movement assessment to determine the underlying cause of your pain.
Receive a detailed handover and treatment plan to get you on the road to recovery.
Understand the triggers of your pain, what is driving your pain and how to address it for the long term. You will understand how to resolve your pain for good!
Click here to inquire about our comprehensive assessment – For a limited time only, we are offering these for $49 (usual price $90).