You need to break these 3 reasons for having your back pain today!

Back pain is an epidemic worldwide. In Australia alone 1 in 6 or approximately 4 million people experience back pain in some form with 86% of these having a flare up once a week. Putting it in perspective either you or someone in your immediate family circle will suffer from back pain. Unfortunately due to its high prevalence in our society and the corresponding yet unfounded notion that its something we must live with as we get older means the 3rd leading cause of disease burden is not going anywhere in a hurry. But what is it exactly that generally keeps us trapped in a cycle of pain once we experience it for the first time? It will be the mental prisons we lock ourselves in and the reasons we cultivate for the pain being there. Here are some things you may have said when dealing with your lower back pain and how to break the mental lock they have on you.

I got my bad back from my Mum/Dad.

Reasoning: This is one of the misconceptions that is most commonly heard and it is one that generally leads to the most relapses in rehabilitation. Whilst we pick up many traits from our parents and significant loved ones, very rarely will they pass on a genetically bad back. It is true that your genes may predispose you to be more at risk of lower back symptoms as you get older however if we resign ourselves to the fact that we have no control over our physical symptoms then we will not control the lifestyle factors that also affect back pain. Improving our weight and daily physical activity levels can have a significant affect on decreasing our levels of pain yet it is hard to stick to the regimented plan necessary to break the pain cycle if we do not feel as if we have control over that pain in the first place.

Break: You have to truely believe that you are the master of your own destiny and therefore eliminate your pain. Throw away your preconceived notions of why you have pain and get assistance and guidance as to target the factors which may be causing pain that you can control. By starting to see the changes that can come from manipulating your movement patterns, strengthening the surrounding musculature and improving your daily activity levels you will chip away at the falsities driving your discomfort.

Why should I change how I move. I have done [Enter Habit] the same way my whole life even when I had no pain.

Reasoning: Personal habits. They are necessary to allow us to focus our mind on more technical daily tasks rather than the simple ones we perform consistently. If they weren't there we would hardly be able to function as we would be using our brain power to think about everything, and too much thinking is no good for anybody. While this is the case, it can be these habits and the way we perform them that can keep us in perpetual pain without us even noticing. Take a task as simple as standing up from sitting. When we experience our first bout of back pain we will create a habit that assists us to function in the short term such as using our hands to grab onto a railing or brace on our legs. However this lays down a new pattern of movement in our brain, one that we now believe is necessary to keep us performing our simple daily task. Now even when the pathological reason for the pain disappears unless we actively try to change our new habit we will continue moving in a way that even though was important for a short time is not the most efficient. This leads to overload on some structures and atrophy of the others that should be performing the task. We believe this is the pattern we have always performed because we did not knowingly create it, however it is just a bastardisation of what we should be doing.

Break: So don’t ignore the habits we do on a daily basis when dealing with your pain symptoms as creating better movement patterns will reduce the stress on overloaded structures. If you have to walk our stand with reliance from your hands or you cannot bend over without bracing yourself then film or get someone to film how you are moving. Take this or email this to your health practitioner and ask them to provide a breakdown of how you should be performing the task. As you brain starts to notice you feel better performing the movement in this way you will create a new habit.

I’ve already done the exercises and they didn’t work

Reasoning: Here is a personal thought that most of you who experience back pain on a daily basis may have uttered before…exercises are useless in treating these pain symptoms. I have seen exercises fail more that they work and implementing them how you currently do could possibly be a waste of your time. This does not mean you should stop however. The issue with the word exercise when it comes to physical conditioning (whether in a rehabilitation sense or improving your personal fitness) is that it is utilised as a bandaid when something is wrong. We are feeling or have been told we are overweight so we exercise. We have a bad back and so we exercise. Once we personally feel we have re-written the wrong then we don’t need to have the bandaid anymore and rip it off. The problem is the bandaid is just covering the physical manifestation of the wrong and not dealing with the reason why it occurred in the first place. Once the factors that really cause our pain start piling up again it can come back and as it was the “exercise” that was supposed to fix us it gets the blame. 

Break: The most effective type of exercise is finding all of the personal reasons for your pain (Mental, physical, lifestyle) and target them all systematically. Be aware that the longer your pain has been there, the more factors there may be and thus the longer it may take to feel better. This is not an easy fix and it may be difficult to address some of these however it is the only way to rip the bandaids off once and for all. Exercise needs to be a lifestyle and you need to treat addressing your pain not just in the short term, but long term as your number one priority.

I know that living with back pain isn't easy as I have dealt with it in both my professional and personal life. However with the right support and guidance you can stop being resigned to the fact you have pain and actually just stop the pain.

If you have been dealing with some type of neck, middle or lower back pain and would like help to discover, address and eliminate the factors that drive it connect with me at . We can chat about your personal situation and determine the best way of becoming the optimal version of you! If you are unsure if this will work for you as you have done all of the exercises before, signup to our email list and receive our complementary wellness concierge service. In this you can connect with me for free to determine if an online health consultation is for you.

Yours in Wellness :)

Bryce Finck - Stack Health Physiotherapist specialising in physical dysfunction.

Bryce Finck