Back Pain. It’s common, it’s uncomfortable, and quite frankly, we’re scared of it. Back Pain has a terrible reputation in our community. In fact, the reputation and beliefs about back pain that exist in our population are so commonly negative, that if somebody experiences an injury, be it small or large, the cascade of concern, behaviour and distress can be so ┬ádisproportionate to the problem that it sets that person on a rapid downward spiral unnecessarily.


Put in another way, the images that are conjoured in people’s minds of things like Disc Bulges, Slipped Discs, Sciatica, Ruptured Discs and other lingo on the streets, can be so frightening, that the first thing people can think if they hurt their back, is the extreme worst case scenario. This will dramatically affect how that person then behaves.


It can then be a self fulfilling prophecy that if someone is so concerned they have injured something significantly (even if they haven’t) they will move, think and act in ways that can ultimately lead to more pain and reinforce the belief that there is something seriously wrong.


In my chronic pain care, I see these people daily. People who have lived in pain for months and years. People who have changed the way they move and live so dramatically, that the original issue has absolutely nothing to do with the current problem. The pain is driven by the “protective” mechanisms people adopt. Hard to believe, but this is what we see daily.


So, although these protective mechanisms can be adopted by the human body to aid in acute or early injury, the longer they hang around, the less beneficial and in fact, more problematic they can become.


So, my challenge to you is to determine whether or not you adopt either of these 2 more common strategies to avoid back pain. When in fact, these 2 mechanisms are commonly associated with actually promoting more dysfunction and pain.


BACK BRACING – this is characterised by arching the spine and clenching the muscles of the trunk which leads to increased physical force on spinal structures and demand on muscle groups not equipped to manage this repeatedly.


BREATH HOLDING – This commonly utilised strategy increases pressure in the abdomen and increases physical pressure on spinal structures.


Ultimately, these 2 strategies are ineffective for the long term and can lead to more sensitivity and abnormal loading and movement patterns. I spend a lot of time training these strategies out of people with great results. They are often unbeknownst to the person engaging them as they become second nature and habitual.


So tune in and assess the way you approach your next lift at home, work or in the gym. If you find these are strategies you are employing, see if you can remove them. It will serve you better in the long run to relax and breathe. If you are still finding difficulty, there are lots of things we can do to individually improve your situation.


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