Back pain affects most adults at some point in their life. In the majority of cases these episodes are relatively isolated and resolve quickly. This type of back pain is known as acute back pain, as it is for short durations only. But there are those of you out there who suffer from back pain that hasn’t resolved quickly. When your back pain has been continuing for longer than three months it is referred to as chronic back pain, and we know how disabling it can be. It can interfere with your ability to work, to exercise, to play with the kids, & even to sleep. So if you suffer from chronic back pain, you may well be wondering what you can do to start feeling more comfortable and moving freely again.
A recent review of 13 guidelines from all around the world found strong evidence for physical activity and therapeutic exercise to effectively manage chronic low back pain. Interestingly, this review also stated that it was still undetermined just what type of exercise provided the greatest benefit. We think that’s because the specific exercise should be individualised to you rather than a blanket recommendation. There was moderate to strong evidence for the use of stretching exercises, strengthening exercises, aerobic exercise, high intensity exercise, and general exercise programs. In essence, simply getting up and doing some sort of exercise has been shown to be beneficial. This means that if you have been suffering from low back pain for greater than three months and it seems like you’ve been stuck at the desk, on a train or in the car, then getting movement with some light exercise may be just the thing to resolve your back pain. It is normal to feel a little apprehensive about exercise when you’ve been experiencing back pain for a long time. Start small, keep things comfortable, and increase the intensity as you make improvements. A good starting point is simply adding a daily walk or swim to your routine. Then augment this with some light stretching. To get you started an individualised physiotherapy assessment can help guide the direction of exercise that will be most beneficial in helping alleviate your back pain.
It is important to find an exercise that is enjoyable to hold your interest and there are many variations to choose from now.
Pilates and yoga are both forms of exercise which focus on the maintenance of good body stability throughout a range of movements. Yoga has a focus on improving flexibility and developing awareness of the connections between your mind and body. Pilates has a greater focus on utilising specific, repetitive body movements to challenge stability.
Aerobic exercises such as swimming, cycling, running or rowing have been shown to be beneficial for chronic back pain if your body is ready for this level of loading and have the added benefit of improving your cardiovascular health and burning additional calories. Strengthening programs utilising free weights and gym equipment have also been shown to be beneficial in beating back pain, however it is essential that this type of exercise is carried out with good technique, otherwise it could actually exacerbate your symptoms. So always commence a weights based program under the supervision of a suitably qualified instructor.
Suspension training systems (such as the TRX) provide an alternative to weights programs for strength training. They utilise your body weight only and the exercises performed provide a great challenge to your whole body stability. Group classes incorporating a range of exercise modalities may be a great way of keeping you motivated by partnering you with like minded people in a great team environment.
Of course, there may be some of you who do exercise regularly and still have trouble with chronic low back pain. Perhaps your back pain is even aggravated by the exercise you currently do. In these instances a visit to a physiotherapist who can analyse your movement patterns to identify any non-optimal movement or loading patterns is essential. Here at Ocean View Physiotherapy we love to see people getting out and reaching their exercise goals. So if you feel like you’re back pain is holding you back, take the next step and make an appointment with one of our excellent physiotherapists who will get you on track to reach your goals. Likewise, if you are keen to jump into some exercise but are unsure of where to begin, we will gladly get you on the right track.
ocean view physiotherapy
central coast foot & ankle physiotherapy
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