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Melbourne Sports Physio Team
Back Physiotherapy: A Look at Short and Long-term Treatments
Back pain is ridiculously common among the adult population, however the pain can be alleviated with specialised back physiotherapy.
Back pain may range from mild to severe and can be caused by a variety of things such as: sitting for long periods of time, carrying heavy luggage and nerve irritation. It is amazing how many different types of movements can cause low back pain, though how many movements we can do without causing low back pain!
Back physiotherapy treatments vary depending on the severity of the pain and on the patient's needs and preferences.
Some patients may require short-term low back pain physio treatments which include staying active and having a healthy lifestyle, while others may seek long-term treatment like undergoing intensive physiotherapy for lower back pain.
Back PAIN Physiotherapy: Short-term PHYSIO Treatments for Back Pain
• Movement Stretching.
The most basic physiotherapy for back pain is gentle active movement and stretching. Stretching helps maintain a normal range of motion and provides some good short term relief from low back pain.
If you have been to a back physiotherapist, it is essential to follow the advised movement and stretching routine, as this can help ease the pain in various parts of the body such as the legs, hips, abdominal muscles and back muscles.
Active movement and stretching should be done gradually, without force, whilst jumping and bouncing should be avoided. This movement and stretching is different to your standard muscle stretching (think calf muscle), so pay attention to what your low back pain physiotherapist advises.
• Comfortable sleeping position.
Does your sleeping position help you rest comfortably? A comfortable sleeping position can assist to minimise your low back pain.
When sleeping on your back, place your knees on top of a set of pillows to maintain the normal curve of your lower back.
When sleeping on your side, insert pillows between your legs and draw your legs up slightly towards your chest.
Main message, is to do whatever is comfortable for you with regards to your low back. Overall, a physiotherapist who is good a treating your low back pain won't give you absolute strict instructions as to the best way to sleep with low back pain. It simply is, do whatever feels the most comfortable for you!
• Exercise and a healthy lifestyle.
Ever have problems with poor posture, stress or being overweight?
Staying active on a regular basis and this will help keep your back strong and healthy.
Go for a walk, run, swim or do yoga. Choose an activity that you love and one that helps ease any pain.
It's better to have a strong and healthy lower back in the first place, than to start to manage your low back pain from a poor base or starting point.
• Hot and cold treatments.
Should you use hot or cold treatment for low back pain?
This can be a controversial for some physiotherapists, as the research isn't really definitive.
A warm bath or placing a hot pack on the affected area can help soothe the pain.
Furthermore, for some people with low back pain an ice pack or a bag of frozen veggies could also be effective depending on your individual situation. Make sure you wrap any ice packs in a cloth before placing it on the affected area. Putting ice directly on your skin may cause a cold burn.
Again, it doesn't what you choose to do with hot or cold therapy for low back pain. It is a personal choice and overall, the vast majority of people tend to do neither, although we tend to lean towards some gentle heat for those nasty spasms in the initial few days. Again, do what feels comfortable for you! What you do in the first few days won't affect your long term low back pain physiotherapy outcomes.
• Stay active.
This is SUPER IMPORTANT!
Bed rest was often suggested to help treat back pain back in the olden days.
But now, people who keep an active lifestyle often recuperate more quickly.
Staying active may seem a little difficult at first but try moving around as soon as you can and do your best to push further each day. Start by walking to the nearest corner store and back to your house or take the stairs instead of the elevator.
You might feel a little uncomfortable at first but with a few simple steps, you'll notice the progress at the end of each week.
• Optimism is key.
Don't panic about your low back pain!
Of course, in the first few days you will absolutely freak out about your lower back pain. You'll wonder is physiotherapy enough for low back pain, do I need surgery, will I ever be the same again??? You're not alone, we all do it.
This might sound a bit difficult but optimism is essential and will help you recover.
Being optimistic helps ease muscle tension which is caused by worrying.
There is varying research to suggest people who think that their back pain is caused by a fragile spine that is damaged and broken will take a lot longer to recovery than someone who thinks they have spasmed or just tweaked what is usually a strong spinal structure.
Being positive and accepting that your spine is a strong structure (because it is!)
Relax and stay positive despite the pain and do your best to recover from your low back pain quickly, under the guidance of a lower back pain physiotherapist.
Long-term PHYSIOTHERAPY Treatment for LOWER Back Pain
• Dynamic stabilisation exercises.
This is performed through a variety of exercises and may include pilates equipment and exercise balls.
Dynamic stabilization exercises beef up the secondary muscles of the spine and help support the spine through different ranges of motion.
You don't have to use specific pilates equipment to work on your spinal stabilisation. You just need to do the work!
• Exercise for the trunk, core and whole body.
Core workouts help strengthen the abdominal muscles and low back muscles.
There is no such single muscle that creates 'the core', so its important to retrain muscles through movement, not just being strong in a stationary position.
Just doing front planks for 5 minutes isn't enough, even though is has become urban legend that this is important. It's not!
To help fix your back pain for the long term, you need to be strong in all movements and directions, and actually train your back to move into the position that you first strained or injured it in.
Let's say you injured your back doing dead lifts. Eventually you need to get back doing dead lifts, even to the point whereby you will do them with a flexed spine. This trains the spinal muscles, as well as the brain, that it has the capacity to tolerate these positions, and reduces the sub-conscious fear and 'autopilot' avoidance of these movements that tends to lead people down the chronic low back pain path.
If you are experiencing long-term pain, and aren’t experiencing any signs of recovery, visit a lower back pain physiotherapist near you.
Your chosen therapist will help manage your condition, give sound advice and provide suitable back physiotherapy. They will monitor your progress and offer tips on how to improve your quality of life despite being in pain, and get you back doing the things you love again.
How can we help you?
At Melbourne Sports Physiotherapy our goal is to get you moving pain free as soon as possible.
But, we also want you to actually move better and live a healthier, more active and fulfilling life!
If your sports, fitness training or work has been wearing your body down, book in with one of our expert massage therapists so we can help you reduce your pain or stiffness.
If you are showing some signs of this condition or simply want help prevent this from happening in the future then book in with one of our highly experienced Remedial Massage Therapists today!