Some thoughts about low back pain

Some thoughts about low back pain

Autumn is here but aren’t the days lovely and mild?  I am so enjoying the dry weather too as it means that I haven’t needed to wash a dirty dog much yet at all.  Funnily enough just thinking about bending over Obi for a prolonged period gives me sensations in my back – I wonder why that happens?

Do you, or do you know someone that experiences back pain?
Do you know that back pain is a leading cause of disability worldwide?

I am sure you do know a few people and I am also sure that you know that back pain affects everyone very differently, sometimes it comes and goes very quickly and sometimes it turns into a persistent and ongoing problem.  Although it can be distressing and limiting, thankfully it is rarely dangerous, and it can be overcome.  I don’t think low back pain is helped in its understanding as there are so many unhelpful and confusing beliefs around it.  So, given it is back pain awareness week, I thought I would dispel some myths – I hope you find it helpful in some way….

hannah and her dog
weather erosion canyon

What do you know about back pain?

One common myth about persistent low back pain is that it is always related to tissue damage in fact PERSISTENT LOW BACK PAIN IS RARELY ASSOCIATED WITH SERIOUS TISSUE DAMAGE: Backs are strong.  If you have had an injury, tissue healing occurs within three months, so if pain persists past this time, it usually means there are other contributing factors.  A lot of back pain begins with no injury or with simple everyday movement.  These occasions may relate to stress, tension, fatigue, inactivity or unaccustomed activity which make the back sensitive to movement and loading.

Another common myth is that repeated spinal loading results in ‘wear and tear’ and tissue damage.  BACKS DO NOT WEAR OUT WITH EVERYDAY LOADING AND BENDING:  The same way lifting weights makes muscles strong, moving and loading make the back stronger and healthier.  So, activities like running, twisting, and bending and lifting are safe if you start gradually and practice regularly.

So as much as I don’t really like washing Obi I know it is entirely safe for my back and in fact it is good for it.

Answer to my initial question: it has got to do with the mind-body connection of a painful experience.  I do sometimes experience lower back ache when bending over washing Obi and so my brain remembers this.

For more myth busting facts about low back pain have a look at ‘Back to basics: 10 facts every person should know about back pain.  O’Sullivan et al (2019) British Journal of Sports Medicine’

A couple of my tips to help overcome back pain:

  • Keep yourself as strong, flexible and active as you can – this doesn’t always mean core exercises.
  • If you get a pain flare up instead of treating it like an injury, try to stay calm, relax and keep moving
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