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Back Pain

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Back pain

Tim Erickson writes on back pain

Back Pain - does that mean I can't exercise?

Back pain and more specifically low back pain is a common ailment that will effect the majority of people at some stage in their life.
In most cases it can be treated easily by specific exercises or it may resolve by itself.  Unfortunately in some instances the pain is due to damage to spinal structures such as the disc, facet joint, nervous tissue or supporting ligaments and muscles. In these cases specific diagnosis and treatment is important to optimise recovery. As a general rule of thumb it is advised any acute severe low back pain should be assessed by your physiotherapist or doctor.

The spine is a complex system of 24 vertebrae which connect the skull to the sacrum. It houses and protects the nervous system, provides a bony framework for the rest of the body and muscular system. The bones or vertebrae are separated by discs and each vertebrae connects or articulates at three places with the vertebrae above and below. One joint is the intervertebral joint which includes the disc and this is supported by a small facet joint on each side. Ligaments and muscles bind each vertebrae together and give additional strength and help control movement of your spine.

What causes back pain?

Any of the structures mentioned above can be a source of pain. The cause can be acute such as injury, trauma or strain, poor postural habits and repeated micro-trauma (i.e. poor lifting technique) are a more common cause of low back pain.
The other common cause is degenerative changes in the disc and facet joints.

How can you prevent it?
Adopt Good Habits:
  • Regular exercise: which includes specific exercise for the lumbar spine. People spend increasing amounts of time in sitting which often puts the lumbar spine in a flexed position. Taking the lumbar spine through the normal range of motion on a daily basis to keep It flexible.
  • Posture: avoid poor postural positions in work and recreation activities. Most commonly avoid prolonged periods with the spine in a flexed position. This includes proper lifting techniques.
  • Sleeping: your mattress should be firm and supportive.eight Control: Extra weight puts increased strain on your spine
  • Generally it can be said that regular exercise will be beneficial to people who suffer from low back pain; basically if your pain increases with exercise, consult your doctor, physiotherapist or exercise leader. If you are unsure, you should seek advice rather than hoping it will 'go away'.

Tim Erickson (

Secretary, Australian Centurions Club
Melbourne, Australia
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