“Moving will make my pain worse”
Motion is lotion! Staying active will help to improve your back pain and won’t make it any worse, even if you have some pain and discomfort at first. Bed rest was previously a treatment for low back pain but we now know that people with low back pain who remain active do better long term. For recent onset of low back pain, finding the balance between letting the pain settle while still moving is important.
Although we can be nervous of doing certain activities such as lifting, twisting and turning when we have low back pain, it is important to remember that our spines are strong and designed to move. Keeping the muscles around the spine strong will provide more support to the joints. The more you move, the more the back will maintain its natural range of movement.
“Low Back Pain is always caused by an injury”
Pain is real, whether or not there is actual tissue damage, but pain does not always equal tissue damage. There is a poor link between the amount of pain someone is in and actual tissue damage. Pain is an unpleasant sensation, processed by the brain, as a result of actual or perceived threat of tissue damage. The brain also processes our feelings, hopes, fears and our memories. These all combine with the threat of tissue damage to produce the experience we call pain.
“Repeated lifting and loading will lead to ‘wear and tear’ and damage to the spine”
The same way lifting weights makes muscles stronger, moving and loading makes the back stronger and healthier. Activities like running, twisting, bending and lifting are safe if you start gradually and practice regularly.
“Scans are always needed to detect the cause of Low Back Pain”
Scans are not always necessary for detecting the cause of low back pain. Scans will often show normal age-related changes in your spine which are equally common in people who don’t have low back pain and don’t predict how much pain you feel. After the age of 50, nearly two thirds of individuals will show “degenerative changes” on their scans, regardless of whether they have back pain or not.
“Pain with exercise and movement means I am doing harm”
The pain you feel during movement and activities reflects how sensitive your structures are, not how damaged they are. It is safe and normal to feel some pain when you start to move and exercise. This usually settles down with time as you get more active.
If you’re getting back to exercise, start off gently and gradually increase the amount of exercise you do. Walking, swimming and Pilates are good forms of exercise that can help with low back pain. Regular and small episodes of exercise is a good way to start, gradually increasing the amount you’re doing each day.