PHYSIO ADVICE: Back Pain Myths Debunked

Four out of five of us will suffer from back pain at least once in our lives. Back pain is completely normal and something that can be surrounded by a lot of worry and often contempt for exercise and movement. Many preconceptions exist towards back pain which can be quite damaging to our health.

Some examples of a few of the common myths regarding back pain:

If I stress my back I will make it worse: Your spine is fantastically strong. It has evolved over thousands of years to be strong yet mobile and supple. Your spine needs to move in order to remain healthy! Restricting our spines from this nutritious movement and exercise will only serve to weaken our backs and make us feel worse in the long run. So get out there and move. Even if you are in a little bit of discomfort or feeling some pain, it does not mean that you are damaging your spine. Don’t jump to conclusions and give up your running or sport of choice just yet without consulting a Chartered Physiotherapist, for it may be helping in the long run. Excessive rest is not the answer.

I need an MRI scan to see what is wrong with my back: Sometimes, an MRI is warranted but in the vast majority of cases it is irrelevant. Back pain is very treatable without an MRI, which often just serves to prolong treatment from a Physio and stir up a great deal of stress in a person. In most cases, when someone gets an MRI, there is some ‘degenerative changes’ and words which sound quite scary and serious but in reality they are just part and parcel of getting older and not necessarily indicative of an unhealthy spine. In fact, even if quite a bit of ‘damage’ shows up on the scan, it does not necessarily mean that those exact damaged structures are what are responsible for your pain. Between 60-80% of the general population will have a disc bulge on an MRI scan and not have any back pain. If you have results on your MRI that concern you, a Chartered Physiotherapist will discuss your findings.

My parents have back pain so I will probably have it: This is not correct. Most conditions associated with back pain are not genetic, so if your parents suffer from a sore back, it doesn’t mean you are resigned to a similar fate. For the most part, the condition and health of your spine is very much in your control.

Rest is the best thing for a sore back: Not true! Research has shown that exercise and physical activity is the best thing for your back. Recent studies are shattering the previously held taboos that exercise is not a good idea when you have a ‘bad back’ and that bed rest is necessary. Here at Platinum Pilates we tailor our reformer Pilates classes to strengthen our spines and surrounding areas to ensure optimal spinal strength and flexibility.

Back pain can be really detrimental to our physical and mental wellbeing and can stop us doing things which we love. By putting an exercise plan in place and shattering any misconceptions you may have about back pain, you can take control of your spine and allow us to guide you in the right direction.

Back Pain Myths

By Chartered Physiotherapist at Platinum Physio, Liam Curran