Low back pain myths

While back pain can be very painful and worrying, it is very common and rarely dangerous. About 80% of people will have significant back pain at some point in life. There are many myths out there in relation to low back pain. In this first blog, we tackle some of these myths and provide an alternative way of thinking, based on the latest available evidence and our clinical experience.

Slouching causes back pain

There is a common belief that slouched postures in standing or sitting lead to low back pain. This is not true. Slouching is no more dangerous than sitting up straight. In reality, you should sit or stand in whatever way you feel comfortable. Our bodies crave movement, so the key is to frequently change your position.

Don’t lift heavy objects

Lifting heavy objects is good for your back! The joints and discs in our backs get their nutrition through movement and loading. Bending and lifting is absolutely safe and beneficial for our backs. Of course, if you are not used to lifting heavy objects, then a once off lift could exceed the capacity of your tissue to tolerate load, which could lead to pain. So, you should perform lifting exercises at lower loads and gradually increase before going to lift that bag of coal!

Bed rest is always best

If you have suffered an acute episode of low back pain, the last thing you should do is spend the day on the couch or in bed. Some rest is fine, but regular movement like walking or gentle exercises are really important. Even in the presence of an acute back injury where there may be an inflammatory process, movement allows oxygen and nutrients into the injured area, promoting a richer healing environment.

Major Pain = Major Injury

Not necessarily. Pain is more complicated than you might think. Two people with very similar back problems may report very different levels of pain. Think of pain like an alarm. In some people, this alarm is triggered more easily and to a higher degree than someone else. It’s as though the volume is turned up louder in these individuals’ back pain experience. There are several contributing factors to the pain experience such as past experiences, beliefs about pain, psychological factors like low mood and depression, lifestyle factors like poor sleeping habits and low physical activity levels, or social factors like work dissatisfaction.

We have discussed just a handful of low back pain myths in this blog. Keep an eye out for our next blog for more common low back pain myths.

Leave a reply