I see a lot of articles on the internet claiming to have “the best exercises for back pain relief“. This can be misleading, although it’s a great catchy title that’s definitely going to catch the attention of many readers.
The trouble is that it leads the reader to believe that ALL back pain is the same and that there is a specific recipe of exercises that will cure everyone.
Not so simple my friends. At least not if you already have back pain. General exercise is great for strength, endurance, and flexibility. But when it comes to pain relief, “general” won’t cut it. We need specific movements depending on the nature of the back pain and what structures in the body are actually causing the pain.
It is also unwise to avoid movements altogether when you have back pain. In fact, not moving at all, may be worse than doing the wrong exercises in many cases.
As you may have guessed, the back is a complicated area. There are a number a structures in the back that could cause pain when injured, such as muscles, ligaments, bone, joints, discs, and nerves.
Does it make sense to believe there is one special exercise that could fix all of these structures? Not likely.
In most cases it’s not necessary to have an MRI done either. A thorough subjective history and physical assessment of your posture, range of motion, and nerve function is often enough to create an effective rehabilitation program. Surgical intervention is rarely indicated for most low back pain.
“Treat your own back” by Robin McKenzie is a great resource to help understand movement patterns of the low back and how direction specific movements are used to treat pain.
Don’t be fooled by claims that there is a magic exercise or stretch that cures all back pain. It’s more complicated than that.
Consult with your healthcare professional to assess and diagnose your back pain and provide an appropriate rehabilitation program.
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