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EPISODE 16: Back Pain - Addressing the Root Causes of Constant Discomfort

Updated: Oct 9, 2023

Our body is made to do amazing things!

It also is incredibly forgiving when we repeatedly ask too much of it.

When we are young -we are active, we play sports, we participate in Physical Ed. at school. Our body is pretty mobile and resilient during this time in our lives. Aging has not caught up with us yet and we bounce back from sprains and strains pretty quickly. When we are no longer required to exercise, we become challenged on how to fit exercise into our daily lives. Some of us are really good at this and take the lifelong habit of exercising from our sport into our life. Others of us hated exercise growing up and have no interest in it. And then there are those of us who are dying to get workouts in each week, but family and work obligations keep us from maintaining balance with physical activity.

Regardless of where you stand, movement is medicine and if you are not moving in some capacity you will likely have pain somewhere in your body. But there many be other reasons why you might be experiencing back pain all the time. Too many of us are in this category and it is not normal to always have pain in your back. Typically if this is the case you are doing something wrong.

Below is a breakdown of some likely reasons why your back might always hurt.

1. Your Back Is Weak

Nothing is more important than a strong body. It takes a certain amount of strength to

combat the forces we expose our body to on the daily. If we do not prepare and strengthen our body for our daily life then it will inevitably break down on us. This includes sports, work, caring for our family, etc.

Strength also becomes more important as we get older. Our body begins to lose muscle mass each year after the age of 40 and we must actively fight this part of the aging process. People who actively participate in strength training throughout life recover exponentially faster than those who have not. If we want to enjoy a pain-free life, participating in appropriate load through both isolated exercises and fully body movements is key. Perform back strengthening exercises 1-2 times a week and your back will not always hurt!

2. You Lack Flexibility in Your Spine and Legs

Lack of flexibility definitely takes a toll on the low back and spine. When our hips and thoracic spine lack mobility, the lumbar spine takes on the stress of this. Incorporating a regular flexibility program is a must to help the body keep its balance. Some muscles that you are going to want to keep flexible include the hamstrings, hip flexors, back extensors and rotators. Perform stretching on a regular basis in your warm ups and prep work prior to your exercise of choice and your back will not always hurt!

3. You Lack Mobility in Your Spine

Lack of mobility in the spine can also be a culprit with back injuries. This means you can not move into your full ranges. When we perform upper body movements (pushing, pulling, reaching, lifting) the thoracic spine should allow for the mobility that we need. Also when the thoracic spine is hypo-mobile the lumbar spine is subject to excessive forces in every movement plane. Perform mobility training 2-3 times a week in your warm ups and prep work prior to your exercise and then your back will not always hurt!

4. Your Posture Sucks

We can do everything right but when we continue to live in with poor posture none of the good stuff matters. When we are obtain proper and stable postures our body typically feels good. But if we sit, stand and lay down in poor postures frequently the body does not like this. Overtime, poor prolonged postures accumulate into discomfort or injury to our lumbar spine. The key to maintaining good postures is awareness and postural stability. Operate in proper postures daily and your back will not always hurt!

5. You are Doing the Big Stuff and Neglecting the Small Stuff

To have a strong back you need to strength train. We all know that. Or maybe you just learned it above! But sometimes we spend all our time on the BIG stuff and we neglect the small things. For example, If you are always doing heavy lifts- Deadlifts, Squats, OH Pressing, Rows, Chest Pressing but you neglect the small stuff like warm ups which include activation work ( ie., banded good mornings, bridging, bird dogs, planks) or mobility/flexibility (i.e. book openers, spinal hygiene, and lower body stretching) then you are likely missing the little things your body needs to feel good and prepare for the ranges you are asking for in your lifts. Do a 10-15 warm up 2 -3 times a week and your back will not always hurt!

6. You are Overtraining or Overloading

Overtraining and overloading is another common reason for back pain. Many of our patients don't know how to grade increases in load. They start deadlifting after not doing it for several months or they increase load too quick not allowing their body to build the tolerance to the load. Your body needs time to develop strength and capacity. If you are adding load too quick you put yourself at risk for injury. When you do this repetitively you create micro-trauma in the spine. Give your body time to increase load and your back won't always hurt!

7. You are not getting enough recovery

If you are an athlete it is important to take time off from sports and your workouts. If you are not getting 1-2 recovery days in a week it is likely that you are not allowing your body to rest and rebuild. This puts you at risk for injury. It is not normal to just push through pain and soreness. Build some recovery time into your week and your back will not always hurt!

We hope this helped you identify why you might be experiencing back pain all the time. Knowledge is power but if you don't put what you learn into practice then you will not see a change in how you feel. Figure out what the problem is and start to work on it. If you are still not sure we would love to help you figure it out so you can feel good each day. We can help you in person or even virtually.

We got your BACK!! HA!

Check out out IG, FB ,YELP & Google pages for more info @physicaltherapysanpedro.

Yours in strength,

Dr. Brown & Dr. Bay

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