By Mary A. Williams, MSEd, CPE

November 9, 2012

BACKCoach clients often share with me their anguish over the loss of activities that they enjoy to back pain. They say things like, “I can’t do that any more – I have a bad back,” or “If I do that, I’m going to pay for it later.”

The good news is that their assertions are rarely accurate. Further, for most people with back pain, movement is the very thing that will help them find relief. The only caveat is that movement should be done with proper, balanced mechanics.

I’ve had several BACKCoach clients recently that love to garden, and they report that they have an increase in pain after they spend time in their yards. I can hear the sadness in their voices as they share with me the loss they feel when they think about losing their beloved activity.

And the relief they feel when I share with them that not only CAN they move and enjoy their everyday activities, but that it is beneficial for them to do so and a key component of recovery.

Another point we talk about is the difference between ‘exercise’ and ‘movement’, and in particular prescriptive exercise. While exercise is great for back pain – for nearly everyone, actually – it does not need to be in the form of special exercises or a sport or exercise routine. You don’t need to join a gym, hire a trainer, or spend time on a machine. You can just… move. In fact, back pain is much more prevalent today than in the days before fitness facilities because everyday life used to be filled with movement. Our current culture of automation and computerization has had a negative impact on the increase in back pain.

And while a supervised exercise program can be beneficial, compliance can be a factor because it is often not enjoyable to stick with a list of exercises. As we all know, we are more likely to stick with a plan that we choose because we enjoy it. I believe that it is more important that we regularly move our bodies in a variety of ways than it is to perform a specific exercise routine.

That said, while we do need to move more, it is also important to move properly, in the way that the human body was designed to move. We must learn to balance our postures when we sit, stand, and move in every activity that we choose to partake in. And you can join a gym if you’d like, or follow a prescriptive exercise program – if you’d like. But you don’t have to. What you do need to do is move.

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