27 May Back Pain – Part 2
How can exercise help back pain?
Where does exercise fit in to the picture of back pain and it’s management? For many years research had been telling us exercise is good, not only to help prevent back pain, but also in its recovery. Many studies have looked into what type of exercise works best. Unfortunately, the results of these studies are often conflicting. This is probably because a study looks at a group of people, where as individuals respond differently. However, this also means that if one type of exercise is not helpful a different style may be beneficial.
As mentioned in the previous post, much of the cause of back pain is due to the body being overloaded. General exercise which results in improved strength and stamina is of great value here. With your body strong, it is better able to cope with your daily demands, be it lifting machinery, or sitting at a desk.
Once you have back pain, exercise also has a major role. Part of this role is to maintain your mobility, but it also helps teach or remind your body it can still move and do things. Keeping your body moving sends normal messages to the brain which help turn off the protective spasm which is often present. This helps reduce over excitable messages which wind up pain and create memories of pain and dysfunction, which is important in helping limit chronic pain and future back problems.
Though there is some disagreement regarding what exercises work, we do know from research that you actually need to do them for them to work. This may sound obvious, but compliance is often an issue when any exercises are given. We also know that the best long term results are when people keep doing some exercise. Reoccurrence rates drop, and significantly fewer sick days due to back pain are taken with those who keep exercising. This is most likely because you are maintaining your bodies ability to cope with the demands you place on it over the day.
In summary then, my key messages are:
- Back pain is common but in most cases not harmful
- Exercise has been shown to help prevent back pain
- Exercise is an important part of helping resolve back pain
- Continuing to exercise is important in stopping reoccurrences
- Poor education on back function can make your episodes of back pain worse and increase the likelihood of chronicity
- You back is supposed to move. Static and repetitive postures are more likely to cause problems
If you have back pain – what are the first steps to helping?
- See a Physiotherapist to help you with setting up a plan to help you manage and improve your pain and symptoms.
- Progress to structured exercise as soon as practicable.
- Keep going with the exercises even if you don’t have pain! It works as prevention as well as a cure!