Earlier this week I posted about some myths and lower back pain. Here is a link.
Acute back pain is recent pain. Pain that is less than a couple months old. A takeaways I like people to understand about acute lower back pain are: it is very common and usually will go away fairly quickly, the amount of pain you have doesn’t always correlate to the severity of the injury, feeling some pain after an injury is quite normal and doesn’t mean you are harming it further, and moving and staying as normal as possible is generally the best course of action.
That is where exercise and activity come in to play. Many people are understandably fearful or worry about hurting themselves more. And, the message we commonly hear is if you lift wrong you will damage yourself, bad posture will wreck your back, be careful you will hurt yourself, or don’t do too much. In truth staying as normal as possible and moving is helpful. This doesn’t mean you should ignore your pain and do everything full on. But it does mean you can continue to do some things even if there is some manageable pain or discomfort.
Many people will find movement is more comfortable than being sedentary. They will find sitting or first thing in the morning is worse and walking and changing posture is better. With acute pain the goal is to get your spine moving all the directions it needs to move without aggravating things. Sometimes specific movements will reduce symptoms. If this is the case then focus on doing that movement frequently through your day. Sometimes a specific movement will aggravate things. If that happens, wait to do it a bit longer and reduce activities in your day that are similar. Sometimes just general movement will help. All of these motions are safe. So try them. If they help keep doing them. If something doesn’t feel right back off or wait a bit on that exercise.
Press ups: These exercises extend your spine or back bend. Many people find these can reduce pain, especially if you find sitting or bending over forward is painful or difficult. If they do reduce pain try to do them 10 times every hour or 2.
Prayer: This stretch flexes or fully bends your spine. It does it in a position with less weight on your back and can also provide a bit of traction.
Open Book: This stretch rotates your spine. It focuses on your mid back, but can be a good early comfortable way to begin some easy twisting.
Cat and Camel: This exercise works flexing and extending your spine in an easy position. It also allows you to begin active control work with your pelvis, hips, and core with not too much load on your back.
Walking: If you are comfortable walking, it is a great activity to help your recovery. It gives you overall body movement, can get you outdoors, and get your cardiovascular system going. Sometimes you can only tolerate short distances. Its Ok. Do what you can and build it up.
These are exercises for new back pain or injury, although many people can use them at any stage of recovery. They won’t cure you, but they can keep your spine moving, and in some cases give people some relief. Ultimately, pain resolves as we heal and our nervous system feels we are safe. Moving can help this happen. I will do some future posts on other exercises for other stages of back pain.
As always post questions or comments here. Give us a call at 970-949-9966 if you have questions or ascent-pt.com.