I can’t lift heavy objects again because of my back.
I need to protect my back.
I have a sore back because I slouch all day!
We all know someone that’s had back pain, so it’s likely that you’ve either heard these comments said or said them yourself.
Back pain is very common, in fact around 80% of people will experience it in their lifetime. And of these 80%, each person will have a slightly different experience, from how they injured their back, right through to the recovery.
Sometimes we are told these stories or we read them online (thanks google Dr), and it can leave us feeling worried about our backs, much more than we really need to be.
So today, we are going to bust 5 of the common myths about your back and pain, in the hopes that we can spread a more positive narrative about back pain and injury.
MYTH 1: My spine is unstable and vulnerable
TRUTH: your spine is inherently STABLE
The definition of unstable is: something likely to give way or fail. (Your spine is not this!
The spine is made up of bony vertebra, strong ligaments and super strong muscles that surround it, this makes your spine very very strong , even if you are in pain.
If you didn't have a stable spine then your body would struggle to hold itself upright, but we all do a pretty good job of that, and more!
Your spine is strong and stable with or without pain.
MYTH 2: You need to have strong abs to help your spine
TRUTH: You need to be strong throughout your whole body not just your abs
Having strong abdominals can be helpful in enabling your body to produce movement of the spine, but strong abdominals alone are not the answer.
Evidence shows that exercise is what helps people with back pain. There is no evidence that any particular exercise is beneficial over the other BUT what we do know is that by improving our bodies capacity to withstand load by building strength it can be helpful for people in pain.
We also know that the main thing to focus on with exercise is to do something you enjoy, something that you feel like you will be able to keep doing for years to come.
So the choice is yours.
MYTH 3: Pain means damage!
TRUTH: Pain is an alarm system.
Pain is an alarm system in your body, it is your bodies way of alerting you that something has happened and you should do something about it.
Think about a paper cut, this is soooo painful, yet for the amount of pain we experience there is only a tiny little cut (weird huh?). This is because pain does not always correlate with the amount of tissue damage that has occurred.
This is not to say that Pain isn’t an awful experience, but rather, that having pain is a normal part of life and there are many other factors which can contribute to the amount of pain someone experiences. (Check out this short video about pain here)
MYTH 4 : Lifting heavy is dangerous
TRUTH: Lifting is not dangerous
People often believe that lifting something heavy is dangerous for their spine.
Now, whilst lifting something heavy or in an awkward posture could cause a strain of muscles or ligaments or other structures. Lifting itself is not dangerous.
What is likely, is that your body is not accustomed to the load or the position or the environment.that you are lifting in. (or there may even be some other non-physiological factors in play).
So the answer is to gradually build strength and to condition your body so that it is able to lift objects and weights that you may need to lift in your workday or weekends.
MYTH 5: Poor posture causes pain
TRUTH: “Poor” posture under low loads and short time frames does not directly correlate with pain
Studies have not been able to show a correlation between sitting posture and the experience of pain.
So whilst sitting slouched for extended periods each day over years and years may cause changes to your tissues and posture, it is not harmful in the short term to slouch in sitting, and it is not a direct cause of pain. (read more about sitting postures here).
(… I’m slouching right now… )
Do you have any other myths about back pain you want us to bust? Let us know in the comments Below!
We want to be spread the truth about your spine so the next time you hear someone’s story about their back pain you can remind yourself, that this was their injury and their experience, and it doesn’t necessarily mean that you will be the same!
You and your spine are strong and resilient!
Steph and The Pilates HQ Team