Has anyone ever told you that your back is out, or bending over is bad for your back?? Well THEY’RE LYING!

 

What is back pain?

Back pain is an interesting bag of worms. There are so many areas that can refer pain into the lower back- this being the Sacro-Iliac Joint (SIJ), the hip, the mid to upper back, and of course the lower back itself. The most common onset of lower back pain is bending forwards to pick something up.

 

Moving your back isn’t bad!

Due to this there is a common stigma within the community that bending your back is a sin, and this will cause you to develop back problems. I am here to tell you that this is not the case. As with all other joints in the body, our back is made to bend, twist, lean, rotate, arch, bend and snap (Legally Blonde reference). Our backs are so strong and robust, and can withstand a lot of force, however the back is commonly viewed as brittle and precious, and we need to coat it in bubble wrap and protect it for our lifetime.  This can be viewed on YouTube, with a video of Andy Bolton deadlifting (picking up) over 400kg, or a video of Hafþór Björnsson (the mountain off Game of Thrones) carrying a 640kg log in a world record set in 2015, or Ilya Ilyin snatching (picking up and putting a weight overhead in one motion) of 190kg. Watch these videos, and see if your still convinced that the back is brittle and weak? By this, I’m NOT saying go out and try to pick up 400kg, it’s just a demonstration of what the human body is possible of with the right stimulus and work ethic.

With the athletes listed above, do you think that they would have back pain with bending down to pick up their kids, or picking up a pillow? Very, very, very unlikely! Why? These athletes have conditioned their backs into lifting up heavier things!

 

The myth about core activation

When we are scared to bend and avoid doing so, or always ‘bend from the knees.’  not the back,’ not the back, our backs become less tolerable to bending positions,  and then all of a sudden we get a back ache from bending down to pick up a trivial object. Like I said before – our backs are made to bend, it is SAFE to do so! Watch a baby run, walk around, and bend and pick things up without a qualm. Do you think they are worried about ‘tensing their core’, or bending from their knees? Heck no! They just do it!

More on this ‘core training’ business in another blog, that’s a can of worms in itself…..in short, stoptraining your core’ or ‘core strengthening’ and learn to move instead!

 

Terminology is holding you back

The last thing I want to touch on is terminology around back pain.  I hear it day in, day out that someone’s back is out and needs to be readjusted, or put back into place. Lets think about that for a second…. If your back was out, you probably wouldn’t be standing or able to walk, yet everyone commonly says, ‘this or that’ is out of place….my pelvis is out of place, my hip is out of place, my neck is out of place…. nothing is out of place, or you would not be able to function.

How do we think if something is out of place, that by someone touching you it magically goes back ‘into place?’ If something was out of place, do we really think a manipulation (high velocity thrust), or getting cracked would be a good thing to do if something was truly out of place? I would think not.

If we have a stigma that something is out of place, that paints a colourful picture in our mind that our back is fragile, and we shouldn’t be moving because it could put it further out of place, or we need to ‘strengthen our core’ (again, more on this in a later post).

We need to stop using this language, and instead paint the picture that our back is strong and robust, and can tolerate a lot more than we think it can, which can be achieved with the right training, load tolerance and MOTION.

If you feel this is what your back needs, aka to get strong, come and see us today.

Thanks for reading,

 

Brendan

Physiotherapist

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