Where did it come from, and what am I supposed to do?
This article is meant as informational in nature, and should not substitute for professional care.
After seeking care from your primary health care provider and ruling out anything that needs medical intervention, the first thing you are likely to hear from them is to keep moving and strengthen your core muscles!
For clarity, I would like to differentiate between acute back pain, which as it sounds hurts a lot and requires some recovery time, and primary health care attention, versus chronic back pain which is generally considered to be persistent back pain or discomfort that lasts for longer than 12 weeks. Chronic back pain varies in intensity and persistence from person to person. Though in general it doesn’t sideline one completely, it often prevents people from going about their daily life in comfort and happiness. So, what’s going on, and what can I do?
Where did it come from?
There are several risk factors for developing chronic back pain. Here are a few:
- Poor postural habits
- Poor body movement mechanics
- Being physically deconditioned
- Long term vehicular travel, perhaps due to prolonged sitting and exposure to vibration
- Sitting as the default position when doing office or computer work
- Looking down at hand-held devices, usually the same side all the time
- Repetitive movement patterns
- Heavy physical exertion
- Smoking (possibly due to damaged blood vessels innervating the spine)
- Weight and stature have little to do with developing back pain but may contribute to exacerbation of an existing condition.
- High levels of stress, anxiety or those with depression have an increased likelihood of experiencing chronic back pain.
What am I supposed to do about it?
There are some quick fixes which may provide relief for short or longer term, that can be an important part of your back care arsenal.
- Lumbar support pillow for office, home, vehicle
- Heated seats in vehicle or other heating pads
- Movement breaks to interrupt long periods of sitting (aim for at least 30 seconds every 30 minutes).
- Balance carrying loads like groceries or “work things”. Small children are much tougher to do this with unless you have twins!
- Pillows strategically placed for sleeping comfort.
- Avoid heavy lifting.
Long Term Fixes/Strategies:
- Focus on exercise that increases strength of muscles supporting your spine and hips, promotes healthy mobility and range of motion, and improves overall functional and mechanical balance in the body as well as balance as we normally think of it – staying on our feet!
- Avoid prolonged bouts of sitting.
- Maintain healthy posture both sitting and moving.
- Breathe well.
Now what action can I take?
- Seek care and support from your health care provider and rule out contraindicated movements or activities.
- Connect with a qualified practitioner such as a physiotherapist, or exercise professional to help you start a program or direct you to an appropriate therapist, trainer or class.
- Consider taking a class such as Foundation Training Basics here at Creekside, or another core and functional movement focused type of class that has a reputable instructor who prioritizes alignment and healthy movement pattern instruction.
- Figure out what you LIKE to do because that’s the exercise you’re most likely to keep doing!