Ongoing, Chronic pain is tough. Sometimes it is hard to know what to do and what is the best corse of action to take to help relieve it. If you have an ongoing condition, it’s likely that you experience some amount of pain, tension or discomfort daily.

Daily, that’s a hell of a lot.

At this time of year, I come across a large amount of people that are suffering from back pain, particularly lower back pain. I often hear people say that they don’t want to work out because it’s painful, or that they don’t want to make that pain worse.

The funny thing is inactivity makes back pain worse… it’s a fact. Jump on google and article after article will tell you that one of the worst things for back pain and lower back pain is sitting down.

You see, back muscles require adequate exercise to maintain strength and tone. Unlike other muscles however, deep back muscles and abdominal muscles are usually not actively engaged during everyday activity. Unless specifically focused on and worked, deep back muscles and abdominal muscles weaken with age.

If you experience back pain for a few weeks and you remain inactive, your muscles will weaken. Simply because you are not using them. This process leads to muscle wasting, weakening, and actually exacerbates the pain, because your muscles are now weaker and less able to support the spine.
This is after just a few weeks.

So if your back pain is keeping you inactive for long periods of
time, your back is getting weaker and weaker…

If you experience chronic back pain I am encouraging you to move, especially at this time of the year when it is cold and all you want to do is sit at home in front of your heater.

I am not underestimating your pain and discomfort, nor am I telling you to go deadlift 3 times your body weight, snatch a 100kgs or go work out in the afternoon after herniating a disc that morning.

I am telling you however, that to strengthen your back muscles and relieve pain, you need to actively target these muscles, and that muscle strength and flexibility are essential to maintaining the neutral position of the spine. A great way to think of your spine and the importance of the muscles supporting it is to use the comparison of a mast on a ship…

A mast on a ship has all these ropes attached to it to help unload the mast so it doesn’t fall over and crack. It cannot support its own weight without the ropes. The same is true for the human spine. All of us rely on certain muscles that attach onto the spine to take the pressure off the spine itself. When these muscles are weak or imbalanced, the stresses that
go through our bodies everyday instead of getting taken up by the muscles the way we’d ideally like them to, start going through the static structures in the spine, the things that can’t get out of the way such as discs and the facet joints. This leads to a lot of wear and tear on the spine.

Anyone who has had a serious back injury will know that after the initial, excruciating 24-48 hours even the doctor will tell you, you need to start carefully moving around and that continued inactivity will make the pain worse. A series of exercises and stretches are prescribed by the treating physician as part of the treatment process. So, even though its cold and even though you may be experiencing some discomfort, please,
please, please move and stretch. Get those back muscles strong and flexible to take the pressure off the spine and make it a lot more durable.
We are so lucky to be part of a community that wants nothing but the best for its members and that looks out for their wellbeing. Bullet proof back and shoulder programs are now built into the warmups, and every workout can be modified and scaled down to enable you to exercise safely and within your limits.

Tell your coach about your discomfort and what you are experiencing and get their advice, they are incredibly knowledgeable. Swap movements out, do movements unweighted and walk if you have to, but please move. The health of your back and its ability to serve you throughout the remainder of your life depends on it.

– Jo

Resident massage Guru