Are you someone who is suffering from back pain in the gym, struggling with tasks such as putting on your shoes or sitting in the car for short periods of time? You absolutely are not alone and although it may seem somewhat minor and not call for a trip to the Physio, it is not an issue your body should become accustomed to!
Low back pain is one of the most common issues we see in the clinic – In 2019, it was estimated that 1 in 6 (16%) of people in Australia were currently dealing with low back pain, 2 in 5 (38%) said their back pain moderately interfered with their everyday life and approximately 4 in 5 (70-90%) will experience low back pain in their lifetime.
Although our spines are incredibly strong and compact structures, they can still be subject to excess pressure and overloading if muscles or joints aren’t playing their role as expected. Some examples include lifting heavy weights for work or at the gym, awkward twisting, or repeated back bending movements. If this sounds like your back, or if you’ve had a niggle for a long period of time without any change, read below to discover some ways that you can combat this pain.
Whether you’re lifting weights, picking up a toddler or bending down to tie your shoe laces, safe and effective techniques are vital in reducing the incidence of low back pain. Excessive bending and load through the low back while not bending your knees or hips appropriately can place great strain on back joints and discs, possibly leading to pain and dysfunction. Although this can occur in these circumstances, it can also happen at the end of a long day when your muscles are fatigued or at the beginning of the day when your back isn’t warmed up and ready to move.
Bending with your hips and knees reduces the strain on the low back and helps to keep a neutral spine position. Ensuring your spine is neutral in the gym is just as important so that spinal segments are not overloaded with different lifts or movements. It is very difficult to assess your technique of movement at the low back, so if you feel your technique is a catalyst of your pain, come in and see a Physiotherapist.
Have you ever had someone talk to you about ‘good posture’ and all of a sudden you realize you need to change your posture? The same applies for the low back – quite often we are unaware of the position of our back when we are moving or bending and unless a conscious effort is made, we often don’t think about it. Similarly, when we go to pick up big or heavy objects, our postures and movements change quite dramatically to help reduce strain on our backs. As a result, when we go to pick up light objects our attention to our backs reduces as we know the demand on our body is much lower – which is when many low back injuries occur! Being aware of your back and stress on your lower spine is just as important for when lifting heavy objects AND light ones to reduce strain on the low back and optimize your movements.
Muscular imbalances and joint movement restrictions in our bodies can lead to changes in our movement patterns and postures. For some people, the inability of some structures to function as they were intended means other structures are in greater demand, and therefore stress! If untreated, this persistent stress on other structures – especially in the spine – can lead to overload and pain in some areas. For example – if your neck and mid-back are always tight and stiff, whenever you bend forward more strain will be on your low back, leading to overload and possibly pain! Addressing these factors, as well as low back pain is necessary for long-term management of our bodies.
A Physiotherapist can assess your technique, help you with awareness of your low back movements and address any predisposing factors which may be causing your low back pain. Unfortunately, there is no one size fits all when it comes to treating low back pain, and that is why a Physiotherapist’s input is vital when treating back pain so you can get back to doing the things that you love, pain free!
This blog was written by Luke Mrowka from the Burnside Physio practice, to make a booking at one of our practices press the button that’s below.
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. (2019). Back problems. Retrieved from press link