The Real Cause of Back Pain: It’s Not Back Strength
Often patients with back pain come in to see us and explain they’ve been working on strengthening their back with their trainer. Yet, their back pain isn’t getting better. The truth is that the back is usually the strongest part of the body.
The abdominal, hamstring and back muscles work in unison. Often, there’s an imbalance causing them not to work in harmony in keeping the back stable. Often, the abdominals are weak. And, the hamstrings are typically too tight and inflexible. This causes the back to be overworked and in pain.
One of the most common problems creating back pain is staying seated in one position for too long. Weak abdominals and tight hamstrings cannot support the back in this constant position, so the back becomes strained. And, the abdominal and hamstring issues only become worse due to this lack of motion. It is essential to get up and move about every 30 minutes or so, especially if you’ve already started experiencing back pain. Regular cardiovascular exercise helps too. Just a daily vigorous walk can make all the difference. Keeping the body hydrated also helps keep the muscles and joints working smoothly.
Patients are often convinced they have a major issue such as a blown disk. We can do an MRI to check for such conditions, but most times it will come back clear. This concern is understandable because back pain can feel so severe and even sudden. But, the problem has been building for some time when the patient comes in with serious pain. Patients rarely need extreme measures such as surgery. This is good news as the solutions are relatively simple.
We work to restore movement to the facet joints in the back and reduce immediate pain. Rather than attempting to strengthen an already strong back, most people with back pain benefit from simple exercises to strengthen the abdominals and stretches for the hamstrings.
Our backs move in all directions (the main movements are flexion: leaning forward, extension: bending backward, side-flexion: bending to either side, and rotation). But, in our modern lives we repeatedly experience flexion and very little rotation. This means the body and joints aren’t getting the circulation they need. This is why the majority of back problems we see are in office workers.
Once we reduce the pain and restore movement to the joints, patients can maintain their back with basic exercises and lifestyle changes. Of course, most people can’t free themselves from their desk or busy schedules. However, awareness and a little extra movement can free them from pain.
If you’ve been experiencing back pain, come in for assessment and treatment with Herman for immediate pain relief. Click here to book your appointment. Through extensive education and 25 years of experience, Herman offers a variety of treatments such as soft tissue manipulation, joint manipulation, postural restructuring and orthotics to relieve pain and improve the posture.