What you need to know about lower back pain? Part 1

Lower back pain affects 80% of Australians during their lifetime, with many of us suffering from issues that affect our daily lives. Over the next few weeks I’m going to deliver my thoughts on back issues.

First, let’s start with a few myths:

  • Back pain is hereditary – Back pain is not your destiny nor a life sentence. Yes, genetics make some people more susceptible to back issues than others, but it does not resign you to a life of back problems.
  • MRIs and CT scans give us all the information – Imaging is very limiting, most lower back issues stem from functional problems such as poor movement patterns, repeated over and over.
  • Back pain is linked to my tight hamstrings – research has indicated tight hamstrings are a symptom of back issues rather than a cause.
  • Lying in bed is good for my back pain – FALSE, lying in bed for excessive periods can cause lower back pain.
  • Stretching is good for back pain – There is no such thing as a good stretch for all back-pain sufferers. Often stretches are prescribed to improve the mobility of the spine, when most back-pain sufferers don’t need mobility to improve their back pain. Physiologically, pulling your knees to your chest, trigger the ‘stretch reflex’ – This is a neurological phenomenon that reduces pain sensitivity and provides some relief in the short term. By doing this you begin a cycle for a someone who thinks they need to stretch out their lower back pain instead they should stabilise and control their spine.

Common questions?

Why do I have low back pain and stiffness in the morning?

Well this is because overnight the discs between each of our vertebrae are filled with a protein that loves water. When we lie flat, the discs fill with fluid and gently push the vertebra away from each other, lengthening the spine – This is why we are taller in morning than we are before we go to bed each night! So, the reason our backs are so stiff in the morning is because the discs are so full of fluid, and when we get up each morning the excess of fluid begins to seep out, after an hour or so we return to our normal height.

Will daily workouts at the gym get rid of my back pain?

Incorrect, do the right workouts that will preserve your back instead of injuring it. Repetitive bending of the spine in the gym, followed by sitting all day, with poorly executed daily tasks could cause delamination of some of your disc fibres. The key is – Don’t stop working out, change your movement patterns so that you can enjoy fitness training without compromising tour back.

Will stronger muscles will cure my back pain?

Nope, back injuries are the result of putting the spine under load then breaking form. Maintaining proper movement patterns requires endurance. Therefore, we must place endurance as a priority.

Do sit ups strengthen my lower back? No, In most cases sit ups damage the backs of most people, and they do not increase back health

Andrew Ilieff is a physiotherapy based in Double Bay, Sydney. Andrew has successfully treated lower back problems on the background of a thorough assessment and diagnosis coupled with rehabilitation programs delivered to individual goals and needs.

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