I’m going to rip the bandage off quickly on this one – there is no magic exercise, stretch or pill that’s going to fix your low back pain.
It might be unpopular to say, but the road to overcoming low back pain is not filled with stretching, foam rolling, endless chiropractor and massage appointments. It’s not painkillers or surgery either, and it’s definitely not strengthening or mobilizing a certain muscle.
My personal journey
Before I give you the tips, here’s my personal story to dealing with my own lower back pain.
I was a personal trainer at the time I hurt my lower back. I thought I knew everything, however, I kept falling for the “quick fix” promise from the health and fitness industry. I am embarrassed to admit the hundreds of hours I have spent on YouTube, getting sucked into the clickbait titles.
The constant pain was unbearable, which I bet you can relate to.
I had been working with my physiotherapist for months, however, doing the prescribed exercises that I religiously committed to daily, weren’t as effective as I hoped. I thought I could relieve my pain myself, with help from YouTube. I typed “low back pain fixes” into the search and went down a rabbit hole of every video I could find.I thought “more is better, right?” So I added these “quick fixes” to my prescribed exercises from my physio.
Unfortunately, I learned the hard way that YouTube doesn’t have all the answers. And getting out of pain isn’t as simple as some experts made it out to be, who say things like “engage your core”, “proper lifting mechanics are important”, “you need a standing desk at work”.
Human bodies are complex, so we should be treated that way. Especially when it comes to pain.
Human bodies are complex, so we should be treated that way. Especially when it comes to pain. Our bodies are unlike clocks. You can’t simply open us up, find what’s broken, fix it and we’ll be back to ticking like new.
This reductionist approach can only give us one piece of a grander picture. Unfortunately, this is the approach you find on clickbait YouTube videos, Instagram reels or from many so called experts we usually go see for our pain. So I suggest we start to view our bodies like gardens. Therefore, we can understand that many factors affect the outcome of pain in our bodies. For a garden to thrive you need sunlight, water, soil, room to grow, pest control and time. It’s not as simple as finding the one “broken” plant and fixing it. Like a garden, your body will thrive depending on the internal and external environment you find yourself in. So I suggest moving beyond the purely physical approach we usually take on pain management and move towards treating our bodies efficiently.
5 Things You Need to Overcome Low Back Pain
1) Educate Yourself
We can start to re-conceptualize how we think and feel about pain through education as a therapeutic intervention, it is possible that we can influence positive change via brain to body mechanisms.
2) Nervous System Regulation
The nervous system is a main player in persistent pain as it can become sensitized and it can take less to set off our pain as an alarm system. Incorporating relaxation techniques into your lifestyle can regulate this system and desensitize your alarm to pain or stress.
3) Mindset Shift
Deep-seated fear and unconscious beliefs can play a starring role in our chronic pain stories. When we take the time to reflect, unlearn and relearn, we can ultimately re-write our own stories. It starts with an awareness of how fear and beliefs interact into our experiences.
4) Active Self Management
Oftentimes we search for an expert or therapist to fix us and we neglect our own needs, thoughts and experiences. When you start to take an active role in your pain management you lean into empowerment and you realize you are able to truly make a difference along your journey.
5) A Reliable Support System
This is my favourite piece of advice because I believe who we surround ourselves with will either make the first four tips easy or very difficult. A support system can include family, friends, co-workers, therapists, trainers and doctors. These are people who you can rely on during a flare up, you know they will always offer an open ear and are there when maybe all you need is a hug.
Now that I have offered you a new perspective on low back pain, I invite you to sit with these five tips to see how they resonate with you and your pain experience. Some may seem obvious, some too good to be true, and others unattainable.
As a movement educator, I help clients everyday take this new perspective and finally overcome their low back pain. Book a class with me on Amphy today to alleviate your lower back pain.
Your online Fitness and Wellness teacher