Back pain breaking the myths

Back pain is the most common area of pain I treat in the clinic. Everybody at some point will have an episode of back pain and for those unlucky few ongoing recurrent problems.

The approach to back pain has changed a lot and challenges many widespread beliefs about the condition. Here is what I have found out throughout my 10yrs of experience.

1. Back pain is common and normal.

Most back pain is due to strains and sprains and usually resolves within 6 weeks. Only a very small percentage go on to develop long standing disabling problems and many of these may improve with the right help.

2. Scans are rarely needed. You would think that a picture of the spine would explain why you are in pain but it is not that simple. The scans will often show up things that are poorly linked with pain. Many people who have no pain are shown to have bulging discs, degenerated discs, arthritic changes etc. If you are told you have these problems it can lead to further distress and avoidance of activity.

3. Back pain is not caused by something being out of place. Many people may feel better after manipulations/mobilisations but this is mainly down to short term reduction of pain, muscle tone/tension and fear. As therapists we use these techniques to help get you moving better not to realign you.

4. Bed rest is not helpful. This can create stiffness, muscle de-conditioning and fear. Stiffness itself is painful and treatment and exercises will be painful to get movement back again.

5. Increased back pain does not mean more damage.

6. Surgery is rarely needed. Many people who have back surgery still have pain after because they have not taken a multi factoral approach to getting better. No one treatment will work on its own.

7. There is no perfect sitting posture. It is about moving and altering posture instead of maintaining posture that is important. The body will never like being stuck in one position for any length of time.

8. Lifting and bending are safe. Yes it may cause a strain in the back but should never be avoided as it is good strength work for the back and body. And yes there are bad techniques that can lead to injury, just remember you have a pair of legs to help you. Don’t lift silly amounts of weight, be smart. The length of the activity also has an influence break it up into smaller manageable amounts.

9. Avoiding painful activities is not the way forward. Fear of pain can heighten your senses of back pain and increase stress on the back due to an altered movement pattern.

10. Poor sleep, stress, low mood and worry all influence the back.

11. Exercise is good and safe and persistent back pain CAN get better with it.

Long standing back pain has to have a whole body and psychological approach. Manual therapy can help but exercise is very important as well. So is general health, looking after you weight, healthy diet, good sleeping pattern and knowing how to cope with stress. Everyone is different so what works for one person will not work for the next.

 

 

 

A Healthier You

After some well deserved time off, and over indulgence this Christmas, it’s time to look forward to a new year, and a healthier you!

As we all know exercise is extremely good for your health and well-being. Not only does it improve your muscle tone, and general fitness, it also increases your energy levels and helps stabilise your sleep pattern. Physical activity can boost self-esteem and mood, as well as reducing your risk of stress and depression (especially during these miserable, damp months).

In 2016, make time to take care of you!

To help you get started, here is a list of our top 10 tips

1. Make exercise fun and enjoyable – Find an activity that you enjoy doing, this increases the likelihood that you will stick at it. You do not need to spend hours on a treadmill or sweating in a gym to get fit, if that’s not your thing. There is a whole host of sports/activities out there, why not try a different one each month and find out what you do like.

2. Find an exercise buddy– Having a friend to exercise with helps and is good for keeping you on track. Make a regular plan to exercise together and you will less likely fob it off due to being tired, etc. than if you were exercising alone.

3. Don’t overdo it – It may be tempting, while you have the fitness buzz, to go from 0 to 60 straight away. Resist this urge and ease yourself in gently to begin with. Doing too much too soon, can lead to injuries or burnout, resulting with you discontinuing with exercise altogether. For your first few sessions, it is better to think, I could have done more rather than over doing it and not been able to move for the next 4 days. Gradually increase your effort and volume as you find where your fitness level is. This may mean in a gym class you leave slightly early to begin with or if they say pick up some weights don’t, start with bodyweight.

4. Try something new – If you’re already exercising regularly but is seems to become a bit of a chore, set yourself a challenge to try something new. This is a good way to ensure you don’t get bored, and often you’ll find that embarking on a new activity uses different parts of your body that you aren’t used to, increasing your overall mobility.

5. Set goals – Setting realistic, attainable goals is key to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. It can be a short term goal, such as swimming two lengths of the pool without stopping, or a long term goal such as training for a marathon. Scarborough Athletics Club has a walk-to-run group with the final goal running in the local 5k park run.

6. Eat a well balanced diet– Studies have shown around 80% of any fitness goal depends on your diet. This applies whether you are trying to lose weight, or train for an event. Food is fuel for your body and it is important that you put the right things in it, to maximise results.

7. Water – Keep hydrated! Aim for at least 1.5 litres a day. Water washes out salts, toxins and helps the body to recover from exercise.

8. Sleep – When you relax, the body is able to repair itself post exercise. Sleeping, also relaxes your mind, and enables you to be more focused when awake. Go to bed a little earlier and see if it helps.

9. Preventative Sports Therapy – Regular visits to an expert therapist will enable you to achieve the most out of your life and avoid unnecessary aches and pains. Pro-Am Health Scheme gives you an affordable solution to investing in your health and well being. Sign up today

10. Keep trying, don’t give up – If you have a bad experience at a gym or your sick of getting injured then remember the first 4 points above. You never know you may find a activity where you become a volunteer or coach and inspire many more people to stay active.