Across a lifetime most people will at some point or another experience low back pain. For some this can be short term and last a few days or weeks but for others this can last months or even years.
The natural thing to do when you feel pain or discomfort is to rest. In fact, this advice was given by doctors for many years to patients who experienced low back pain. Nowadays we have a greater understanding of the mechanisms of pain and how to manage short and long term issues.
Below are some hints and tips on how to manage lower back pain and discomfort.
Physical activity and controlled exercise are likely to reduce the risk of low back pain rather than make it worse. In fact, too much rest, particularly bed rest, can lead to joint stiffness and a lack of recovery.
We recommend keeping things light to begin with. Walking is a great activity to help kick-start your recovery. You could also try a low impact movement such as swimming. Really, the key here is to avoid long periods of inactivity.
A structured exercise programme is going to be a great addition to your recovery and also play a role in minimising your pain and discomfort in the future. Joining a Pilates class or seeking out a suitable exercise professional to guide you will help you to take the next step.
Change Your Belief System
It’s important that you learn to distinguish between pain and discomfort. During your recovery there may be times where movements or exercises feel uncomfortable but that’s not a reason to disregard them. If you have been inactive for long periods of time there is a high possibility that you will feel some discomfort in the initial stages of an exercise programme. And that is OK. Keep persevering with them and after a short while these exercises will start to feel less and less uncomfortable.
Having said that, pain is often an unpleasant experience and is designed to allow the body to react and prevent further damage. It can be hard to distinguish between pain and discomfort. Try to think of pain as something that is searing and sharp and discomfort as more of a dull ache. The lesson here is that discomfort is OK and pain is not.
Ultimately you know your body better than anyone else but if in doubt seek professional guidance if you are unsure how to determine between the two.
Massage, acupuncture, cupping therapy and manual mobilisation techniques are great and all play a role in recovery and maintenance of lower back pain. We likely use these therapeutic techniques because they feel good and help us relax. Whilst each of these treatments have value in managing the symptoms, don’t fall into the trap of thinking that this is enough to rid you of pain long term. The reality is there should always be an exercise intervention. A massage is great but it’s not going to make you stronger in the areas you are weak. Acupuncture can offer some people almost instantaneous relief from their symptoms, but it isn’t going to make your spine more stable.
A better approach would be to tie these two things together to allow a more holistic approach to pain management.
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