Back pain is one of the scarier types of pain that you can deal with. We hear all of the time how nervous people get when they start to feel their back pain flare up or if they are having pain for the first time.
The good news is that it doesn't have to be scary!
We’ve helped hundreds of people with back pain so we know how hard it can be to find answers and it definitely can affect a lot of different parts of your day. Whether it’s affecting your workouts, your sleep, sitting at your desk or driving, or another part of your day, it can be tough to deal with it.
On top of that, most medical advice is super negative and will tell you that you have a “bad” back, weak core, you should stop lifting or exercising, or that you just have to live with it. Or, maybe you’ve had an MRI that looks scary or you’ve been told something scary about your back. We’ve heard this over and over again from people we’ve helped. But, you don't have to live with back pain!
Everyone’s back pain is completely different and needs a very individual approach. But, there are some general tips and answers to questions that we’ve found to be helpful to a lot of people dealing with pain. Some of these might be very different from what you’ve heard before, but it’s all backed by research and also by all the stories of people with back pain who have recovered.
Movement is better than rest
Way too often people are told to rest, stop exercising, or to protect their back when they have pain. There is a huge amount of research that shows that not only is this not needed, it’s actually worse than staying active. The best thing you can do for back pain is keep moving. The better answer is to make slight modifications and continue to work out or find something completely different like walking, swimming, biking, yoga, or any other exercise that feels good and gets you moving. Also, your back is designed to move. So if anyone tells you that twisting, bending, lifting, or anything else is “bad” for your back, it just goes against the anatomy of your body and how humans have moved for thousands of years. Avoiding some painful movements at first can be really helpful, but you don’t need to avoid all movement and you definitely don’t want to avoid a certain movement for the rest of your life.
Imaging is not needed the majority of the time
This article says it all, but imaging is usually not necessary. If you have numbness into a leg, shooting and excruciating pain into a leg, significant leg weakness, bowel/bladder changes, weight loss, or fevers/chills then you should definitely get imaging. Otherwise, imaging usually ends up costing you thousands of dollars (actual numbers by studies) and wastes weeks or months of time. This article talks about all of the research on why getting imaging before getting other treatment actually is a bad idea.
Instead of protecting your back, get it stronger
Think about it… when you break a bone you eventually need to walk on it to fully heal it. When you have a heart attack, one of the first things they do is tell you to go to cardiac rehab to strengthen your heart. But, when we injure our backs, we’re told to protect it and it’s fragile. How does that make any sense? We have seen SO many people in pain for years finally be able to get out of pain because we’re able to finally strengthen their back and get them feeling confident and moving rather than feeling like their back is going to give out at any time. So no matter how long you’ve had back pain, strengthening should absolutely be a part of the plan.
There is so much more that can be done about back pain, but since your pain is different from every single other person’s back pain, it needs a different approach. These are some of the most common tips that we give, though. While all three probably don’t apply to you, I’m hoping that at least one is helpful.
If you learn nothing else, I hope you learn that your back pain can get better and that you don’t have to live with it, let it stop you from doing what you want to do, or think that it will be a lifelong thing. It can get better!
If we can help in any other way, please feel free to reach out anytime. Our company mission is to keep people in the DC area active and exercising and to take the fear out of pain so if there’s a way we can help you do that, we’d love to!