20 Feb Back Pain: Why is it important to be active?
Back pain is the second most common reason for doctor appointments after respiratory infections. Back pain can be present in the cervical, thoracic, and the lumbar area, and it is often difficult to find the root of the pain, since it can originate from multiple factors.
The question we always ask ourselves is, how can back pain be reduced? The answer is: be active. (Jackson, Shepherd, & Kell, R. T. 2011).
Exercise is known to be the most important remedy to reduce and recover from back pain (Rainville et al., 2004). The most recommended type of activity is resistance training (Lee & Kang, 2016). Resistance training is the guide to recover from any injury, since most of the time the injured area is weak, compensating, lacking neuromuscular activation, or being affected by some deficiency. Now this must not be misunderstood, since there are movements that may aggravate the present injury. That is why is necessary to know what is causing back pain. For example, if there is a herniated disc, fractures, tears, etc. The diagnosis gives us an idea of what we are dealing with, and if there is any other intervention is needed or not, but we will leave that for another blog.
The resistance training program must go according to the needs and limitations of the person, since pain, motor control, general strength, mobility, neuromuscular activation is usually different in each person. However, there will be several similarities to train such as joint mobility and motor control of the hip, feet, ankles, thoracic back, core work, etc. These examples are part of the fundamentals of human movement and lacking the ability to perform and control such movements can be a big factor for back pain.
For example, a person who does not have good control of hip mobility has the risk of compensating with structures in the lumbar area, since it may be likely that a muscle group such as the glutes will be lack activation because of this deficit. (Lane, Mayer, 2017).
Sedentarism is a big factor that can lead to back pain (delgado et al, 2014).
It is interesting to see that the solution to many issues with back pain is as simple as being active, yet it is the most common for people to book a doctor’s appointment, and end up with a diagnosis that scares them. Statistics highlight that globally 31% of people between 15 years and older have a sedentary life. And as I stated, the epidemiology of back injuries comes largely from sedentary lifestyle.
It is important to be guided by a good professional
I mentioned the importance of staying physically active. What happens is that although it is recommended many people tend to get worse when they run, practice a sport, go to the gym, etc. That is why it is important to work with someone who is a professional in sports medicine, sports science and who has knowledge and experience in injury recovery. Since the goal is to be active without getting injured, but to improve and be able to do what you like without back pain. Sometimes that will require to stop an activity for a while, recover from the injury, get strong, move better, and then come back and perform that activity again. Being injured does not mean that you wont be able to do something again, it means that something needs to change to be able to stay active. Think about creating longevity, it is better to take a step back, get healthy, and come back stronger, than continuing to get hurt. A professional in this field should be able to help you understand how a good rehabilitation program will get you back to being active with no pain.
Delgado, J. Á. G., Lara, G. V., Torres, J. D. C. M., & Morales, I. P. (2014). Epidemiología del dolor de espalda bajo. Investigaciones Medicoquirúrgicas, 6(1), 112-125.
Lane, C., & Mayer, J. (2017). Posterior chain exercises for prevention and treatment of low back pain. ACSM’s Health & Fitness Journal, 21(4), 46-48.
Lee, J. S., & Kang, S. J. (2016). The effects of strength exercise and walking on lumbar function, pain level, and body composition in chronic back pain patients. Journal of exercise rehabilitation, 12(5), 463.
Rainville, J., Hartigan, C., Martinez, E., Limke, J., Jouve, C., & Finno, M. (2004). Exercise as a treatment for chronic low back pain. The Spine Journal, 4(1), 106-115.
Jackson, J. K., Shepherd, T. R., & Kell, R. T. (2011). The influence of periodized resistance training on recreationally active males with chronic nonspecific low back pain. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 25(1), 242-251.