FEELING GREAT: There’s no quick fix for back pain

A woman suffering with back pain.
A woman suffering with back pain.
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I had these two questions in my clinic this week that I wanted to share the answers with you. They’re both on the common topic of back pain:

1. “Paul… How do you continue to try and stay fit (gym, work, golf etc…) when a long standing, persistent back injury keeps recurring?

It seems that during the course of physio things are fine, but as soon as it stops my problems return. I know the obvious answer is more physio, but I feel this only masks the problem. - Danny. 37, West Park.

2. “Because of lower back problems I have been unable to do any exercise and have consequently put on weight which I struggle to get off. I have a quite healthy diet but really could do with some exercise. I’m sure the extra weight I carry isn’t helping my back problem. In fairness, the weight gain wasn’t due to inactivity but a thyroid problem. Any thoughts? - Jayne, 46. Fens.

I’ll start with Danny’s worry about why his back problem keeps happening. I note that he mentions that physio “masks” the problem.

I’d have to agree… to an extent… because it’s like this: physio can never be a full-blown cure where you’re not going to suffer again. The real long-term success at fighting things like back pain is in what YOU do in between or after your sessions.

As in, the lifestyle changes you make, the exercise classes you attend, the type of exercise that you do or don’t do, right down to the length of time you spend sitting and even how you do it.

Danny tells me he is a teacher…now I bet that his day is consumed with a lot of sitting at a desk or in important meetings etc.

And that means chronic back pain is more likely because “backs” aren’t made to sit and the reason why sitting is the chief cause of most chronic back pain) The long term solution? Regular posture style exercises to increase muscle control using Pilates routines mixed with lots of Yoga style exercises to make the muscles and joints more supple and flexible.

One thing I must point out is that “exercising” (running, swimming, golf etc) rarely makes backs stronger and there is a huge difference between exercising and doing exercises such as Pilates and Yoga — which are exercises that get you in good enough shape to be able to “exercise”!

Pilates style exercises are also perfect for Jayne, concerned about the impact of her weight on her lower back, and she is right.

Back pain is made worse by the amount of weight any person has to carry. But the issue is one and the same… that being constant pressure added to the lower back which makes it even more vital to do strength and control exercises to support her back on a daily basis, which allow her to exercise and therefore lose more weight, quicker.

So, the answer to both of these questions is to be found in lon- term commitment and discipline to doing the right exercises.

And by long term, I’m talking at least three months before you even notice any difference so you’ve got keep at them to feel the benefits.

If you want tips for easing back pain by at least 20 per cent, just go to www.paulgoughphysio.com/back-pain to pick up a free special report (worth £58) with 9 top tips to keep active with less back pain.