Are you Struggling with Back Pain?
Are you suffering from Low Back pain? Is your back feeling stiff and sore? Are you currently working from home? And has your normal exercise routine been effected by Covid -19 restrictions? If you are living in Victoria, you most likely answered YES to all those questions. They are also the primary reason we have seen a large increase in our Glen Iris and Ashburton locals presenting to the clinic with back pain. So rest assured you are not alone.
Why have Covid-19 Restrictions Resulted in an Increase in Low Back pain?
As a result of the restrictions, we have seen an alteration to the way in which we are living our life. Some of us, are not regular walkers. But are now walking an hour a day. Others have never spent so much time in the garden. Activities such as bending, twisting, raking leaves, mowing the lawn, and pruning the roses. And there is no doubt that we are sitting for extended periods of time. More time on the couch “Netflixing”. Not to mention having to create a new workstation for yourself out of the kitchen or dining room table.
These factors all add up and can result in back pain. The key here is to remember:
- The back pain and stiffness you are experiencing are Not permanent.
- You have not damaged your back. Nothing is torn and nothing is broken.
- Generally speaking, you do NOT need a scan.
In the majority of cases, the pain and stiffness have come about as a result of a change to the load the lower back has had to contend with. You are requiring your body to undertake activities it is not used to performing.
In short, you may have done too much too soon, after doing too little for too long!
Should I Get a Scan To See If I Have a Disc Bulge?
This is often the temptation of people and some practitioners. Unfortunately getting a scan may only serve to muddy the waters of what is actually going on in your back. The study below highlighted the results of COMPLETLY HEALTHY PEOPLE– that is individuals who DID NOT HAVE BACK PAIN. As you can see 50-75% of people in their 40’s had either a disc bulge or disc degeneration on their scan – WITH NO PAIN. So you can see why scans can sometimes confuse the issue.
We need to think about these disc bulges as a normal part of the ageing process. You wouldn’t expect to look at a picture of yourself when you were 18, to look EXACTLY the same as when you are 40? There are a few more wrinkles, a few more lines – these are normal. The same can be said for our discs.
Discs have also been the source of a number of myths and misconceptions. “I’ve slipped a disc” or my “disc is out of place” this leads us to believe these structures are fragile and weak. This couldn’t be further from the truth. These structures do not slip. But rather do a great job of supporting us and facilitating movement.
Can My Disc Bulge Heal?
YES! Shall I say it again. YES. So we can move on from ” I can’t possibly do this. Or I can’t do that. I have a bad back.” This needs to stop NOW! Disc bulges are not forever. There are 100o’s and 1000’s of well-documented evidence of scans showing COMPLETE RESOLUTION. With the correct intervention, a disc bulge does not have to be a life sentence.
The Good News For Low Back Pain Sufferers:
YES, there is some great news when it comes to your low back pain. It can very easily be addressed. The following few videos are a great place to start when it comes to addressing your pain and stiffness.
For those struggling with spinal stiffness, the Cat-Cow exercise is a great way to start to mobilise and move the spine and hips in an unloaded position.
What’s Next For Our Low Back Pain?
OK. So now you have a great way to stretch and mobilise your low back and spine. Our next step is building strength. Too often we see patients try and manage their back pain with a foam roller and a spikey ball. Yes, these may help relieve some of the pain and tightness you are experiencing. And certainly do have a place in our treatment regime. BUT, we can’t rely on these for long term solutions. The long term solution is to develop STRENGTH in your back muscles.
The Dead Bug:
An initial step towards building a strong “core” is the dead bug. Looks simple, but can very challenging.
Tip – Make sure your lower back stays flat on the ground as you move your arms and legs.
Pallof Press with Dead Bug Legs:
A variation and next step forward is to challenge your low back by adding a resistance band. In this video the tension on the band makes it harder for the body to stabilise the lower back, forcing our muscles to work harder. In working harder you will develop greater strength.
The single-leg Bridge.
Now we are starting to increase the level of difficulty. This exercise is great to start co-ordinating your muscles to start working together.
TIP: You can increase the hamstring portion of this exercise, by moving the stance leg further away from the hip. Maintain a stable pelvis throughout the entire range.
Goblet Squat- Our Gold Standard Strength Exercise:
There is so much research outlining the benefits of Squatting in the treatment of low back pain. This is one of the many variations of the squat.
Being able to perform a squat, with great form and technique will no doubt start to see your back pain and stiffness melt away.
Key Points: Start with body weight, and slowly introduce a weight. You may want to add in a chair or couch as a reference point, as a guide as to how low to go.
We have all seen a change in the way we are living our life. The above exercises are meant as a guide. We are all a little bit different and a little bit unique. These exercises are a general guide. If you are experiencing any pain while performing these STOP and consult one of the Osteopaths at Equilibrium Sports and Spinal Clinic.
Keep in mind. Our current situation will improve. And we will see Gyms, Pilates studios, and aquatic centres open back up. But for the time being, don’t let your back pain and stiffness caused by the current situation go on any longer. Start to move your body. And start working on your strength gains.
If you have any question please feel free to email us at [email protected]