Back pain affects most adults at some point in their life. In the majority of cases these episodes are relatively isolated and resolve quickly. This type of back pain is known as acute back pain, as it is for short durations only. But there are those of you out there who suffer from back pain that hasn’t resolved quickly. When your back pain has been continuing for longer than three months it is referred to as chronic back pain, and we know how disabling it can be. It can interfere with your ability to work, to exercise, to play with the kids, & even to sleep. So if you suffer from chronic back pain, you may well be wondering what you can do to start feeling more comfortable and moving freely again.
A recent review of 13 guidelines from all around the world found strong evidence for physical activity and therapeutic exercise to effectively manage chronic low back pain. Interestingly, this review also stated that it was still undetermined just what type of exercise provided the greatest benefit. We think that’s because the specific exercise should be individualised to you rather than a blanket recommendation. There was moderate to strong evidence for the use of stretching exercises, strengthening exercises, aerobic exercise, high intensity exercise, and general exercise programs. In essence, simply getting up and doing some sort of exercise has been shown to be beneficial. This means that if you have been suffering from low back pain for greater than three months and it seems like you’ve been stuck at the desk, on a train or in the car, then getting movement with some light exercise may be just the thing to resolve your back pain. It is normal to feel a little apprehensive about exercise when you’ve been experiencing back pain for a long time. Start small, keep things comfortable, and increase the intensity as you make improvements. A good starting point is simply adding a daily walk or swim to your routine. Then augment this with some light stretching. To get you started an individualised physiotherapy assessment can help guide the direction of exercise that will be most beneficial in helping alleviate your back pain.