July 22, 2024

F1000 Scientist

Health to Life

5 Tips to Reduce Back Pain With Physical Therapy

4 min read

Patients with back pain often ask me, “How will physical therapy help me with my back pain?” and “If I am hurting how will exercise help me?”

Not all physical therapy programs are suited for everyone. Therefore, patients should discuss their medical history with their qualified healthcare professionals before beginning treatment. However, a well-trained physical therapist can apply a variety of treatments, such as heat, ice, electrical stimulation, and muscle energy techniques to areas where back pain originates.

There are five areas where physical therapy can be highly beneficial in the treatment of low back pain:

1. Teaching Proper body mechanics

2. Providing postural recommendations

3. Teaching Specific Exercises to increase flexibility and to strengthen abdominal and low back musculature

4. Enhancing Weight Control

5. Providing Manual Therapy Techniques.

If you believe that you don’t have the time to participate in a physical therapy program, perhaps these benefits will change your mind.

1. Understanding Proper body Mechanics

An understanding of proper body mechanics can reduce your need for medication and keep your spine healthy. An individualized physical therapy program can be helpful. Physical therapists help patients to learn how to take care of their back and how to manage recurrent episodes of pain, thereby reducing the need for medications.

Body mechanics describes the way we move as we perform our daily activities. It focuses on how we sit, stand, bend, lift, and even how we sleep.

Poor body mechanics can be the cause of back problems. When we don’t move correctly, the spine is subjected to abnormal stresses that can lead to degeneration of spinal structures like discs and joints, and can result in unnecessary wear and tear over time.

It is very important to understand proper body mechanics in order to keep your spine healthy.

2. Providing postural recommendations

In my extensive experience of treating patients with back pain, I have seen time and time again the importance of postural recommendations in relieving their pain.

Good posture is key in the prevention and control of back pain, and who is better suited to teach patients about postural recommendations than the physical therapist?

While often overlooked, a good understanding of proper sitting and standing postures can greatly eliminate back pain. People often associate this pain with lifting, but poor posture is also a culprit.

Although improper lifting can result in back pain, correcting your posture is key. The deleterious effects of improper sitting can result in significant pain. It’s easy to develop bad habits. However, good body mechanics are based on good posture.

Being aware of your posture during all of your daily activities is the best way to ensure you are using good body mechanics. Education on proper posture and body mechanics are an essential part in reducing and preventing back pain and thereby helping to avoid surgery.

3. Teaching Specific Exercises

As your back pain improves, your physical therapist can teach you specific exercises to increase flexibility, strengthen the back and abdominal muscles, and to improve your posture.

Stretching increases flexibility and increased flexibility helps you comfortably and fluidly perform activities of daily living. This will also help reduce the risk of muscle, joint and tendon injuries.

Stretching can also often alleviate low back pain. Muscle tightness in the quadriceps, hamstrings, hip flexors and low back muscles is a common cause of low back pain. Stretching these muscles will often eliminate the pain.

In physical therapy, strengthening the muscles of the abdomen, back and legs helps to reduce the symptoms of nerve compression.

4. Enhancing Weight Control

As you gain strength in your lower extremities, abdominal and back muscles, your endurance will improve. This will give you more energy and can enhance weight control, and often weight loss when accompanied with monitoring your caloric intake.

As your body tones and your stamina increases; you will improve your exercise tolerance and lose some body fat. Studies have shown that back pain decreases when you are at your ideal body weight.

5. Providing Manual Therapy Techniques

Physical therapists use a wide variety of manual techniques to help restore normal alignment and joint movement. A well-trained manual physical therapist can mobilize joints in a manner that a patient cannot do his or herself. They teach patients how to maintain good alignment once it is properly restored.

Physical therapy provides several benefits in the treatment of back pain. One of the benefits of exercise can be the reduction of back pain. By adhering to your postural recommendations, maintaining good body mechanics and performing your home exercise program, you can control your pain better.

Regular use of these techniques can help prevent pain from recurring, correct current back problems, help prevent new ones, and relieve back pain, particularly after an injury. Proper exercise strengthens back muscles that support the spine and strengthens the abdomen, arms, and legs, reducing strain on the back. Exercise also strengthens bones and reduces the risk of falls and injuries.

There are many different causes of back pain. Therefore, it is important that your physical therapy program be individualized to meet your specific needs. An individualized physical therapy program where your physician works closely with your physical therapist can be beneficial to you in helping to control your back pain.

For lasting benefits, it is important to continue to perform your home exercise program once the physical therapy program has been discontinued.

Working with your physician and physical therapist can help to reduce your back pain.

©2011 Winifred D. Bragg, MD. All Rights Reserved.

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