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What Should You Not Do With Lower Back Pain?

Back pain is one of the most common chronic pains. Nearly 17% of England’s population (2019 data) suffers from back pain – that’s over 11 million people!

Changes in lifestyle, diet, work habits, and activities are a few factors that have contributed to increasing incidences of lower back pain in middle-aged and older adults.

Because this condition is so common, we regularly see people advising others based on their experiences or what their doctor told them. Although most advice is okay, it can be harmful to some.

Patients coming into our physiotherapy clinic in London tell us about the remedies they’ve tried to help their back pain. And often, their condition is made much worse because of such remedies. 

In this article, I’ll talk about things you should avoid when dealing with lower back pain to prevent it from getting worse.

But first, let’s clarify what lower back pain is.

What Exactly Is Lower Back Pain?

Lower back pain, a common ailment that strikes many of us at some point in our lives. It’s that uncomfortable, sometimes debilitating sensation that lingers in the lower part of our back, where the spine curves inward toward the abdomen. This pain can stem from a variety of causes—ranging from acute injuries like sprains or strains from lifting heavy objects incorrectly to chronic conditions such as degenerative disc disease or arthritis.

For our clients here in London, lower back pain is frequently a byproduct of modern lifestyle habits. Extended periods of sitting at desks, poor posture while using computers or smartphones, and insufficient physical activity all contribute to the strain on our lower backs.

Moreover, the psychological stress of city living can exacerbate physical tension.

Understanding lower back pain is the first step towards addressing it.

Back pain isn’t just a physical condition. It’s an intricate mix of lifestyle, environment, and sometimes, underlying health issues. Recognizing this complexity is crucial in navigating the path to relief and recovery.

As we dig deeper into how to manage and prevent lower back pain, I want you to remember that treating back pain is about more than just treating symptoms. You can achieve long-term recovery by adopting a holistic approach that aligns with your body’s needs and the demands of your daily life in our bustling city.

Common Mistakes to Avoid In Lower Back Pain

Navigating through lower back pain can feel like a minefield. We see a dozen back pain patients in our clinic weekly. So we know what makes matters worse, and what helps the condition.

Let’s walk through the common pitfalls and how to steer clear of them.

1.   Ignoring the Pain

The advice “no pain, no gain” is the worst thing to say to someone with back pain.

Pain isn’t just a nuisance; it’s your body’s alarm system. Ignoring it or pushing through can do more harm than good. And lead to more severe problems down the line.

We recommend listening to what your body’s telling you. If you’re unsure, visit a medical professional. As experienced physiotherapists in London, we can interpret your body’s signals and guide you towards a pain-free lifestyle.

2.   Returning to Full Activity Too Soon

Jumping back into your full routine prematurely can set you back.

Returning to your regular lifestyle too soon can interrupt the healing process, potentially leading to re-injury or chronic issues.

Your body is more sensitive to movements and loads when it’s recovering from an injury. Hormones gather at the site to repair the damage and numb the pain. Even if you start feeling better, it’s best to ease into your routine and avoid going all in.

It’s natural to want to return to your usual activities after feeling a bit better, but patience is key. You should pace yourself and gradually reintegrate activities, ensuring your back is ready.

Recovery should be gradual. Give time to your body to adjust and strengthen. We can help you develop a phased return-to-activity plan that considers your specific condition, ensuring a safer and more effective recovery.

3.   Testing the Limits Without Supervision or Support

It’s natural to think that you know your body best. But testing your recovery progress by putting your back through a painful range of motion without a safety net can be dangerous.

We’re not discouraging you from staying active. But only advising you to be careful not to try physically challenging activities without proper guidance as that can be risky.

If there’s something you’re itching to do, talk to a physiotherapist. Together, you can craft a plan that safely tests your limits.

It’s crucial to maintain open communication with your physio about your goals and activities. That allows your back pain physiotherapy treatment to be tailored and adjusted so that your activities support your recovery, not hinder it.

4.   Skipping Exercise or Physiotherapy Sessions

Rest might seem appealing and it’s essential too. But too much can weaken the muscles supporting your back. That can lead to decreased support for your back and potentially longer recovery time.

Physiotherapy for back pain is about finding the balance between staying active and overstepping.

Our physiotherapists in London can design rehab programs for you that include gentle, personalised, targeted exercises to strengthen your back without excessive overload.

Everyone recovers at a different pace. Previous injury, habitual physical activity levels, diet, stress levels, and such factors influence the recovery timeline. You should consistently attend physiotherapy sessions because it allows us to monitor your progress and adjust your treatment plan as needed, ensuring optimal recovery.

Caption: Consistently doing exercises is the key to long-term rehab.

5.   Doing the Wrong Exercises

Not all exercises are created equal, especially for back pain.

Some exercises that work like a miracle for some might exacerbate your issue. Following physiotherapy exercises for lower back pain from social media is not the best practice. That’s because the same symptom, lower back pain, can have very different causes. And you have to treat the root cause for full recovery, not just symptoms.

A core strengthening program that fixes the lower back issue for a 30-year-old with mechanical pain (due to an injury or repetitive trauma, not a disease) can make matters exponentially worse for someone with lower back pain due to a vertebral disk problem.

6.   Poor Posture

Your daily activities and work habits often play a significant role in causing your lower back pain. Standing, sitting, and moving in ways that support your back can make all the difference.

We’ve all heard that poor posture can strain your back muscles and spinal discs, exacerbating pain. This decades-old saying is just as valid today as it was then.

Back pain physiotherapy treatment focuses on educating you on the importance of maintaining proper posture while standing, sitting, and performing daily activities. Implementing ergonomic adjustments at work and home can significantly impact your comfort and recovery.

Adjusting your posture plays a pivotal role in managing lower back pain. So don’t ignore that when you’re trying to live a lower back pain free life.

Caption: Poor posture affects regions other than your back. Fixing it can get rid of lower back pain.

7.   Lifting Objects Incorrectly

Of course we’re going to talk about lifting postures when talking about lower back pain.

A 2021 study found that freestyle lifting of a 15kg box from the ground had somewhat (mostly insignificant) larger compressive forces in the lower back compared to the squat lifting technique.

But this insignificant load can cause repetitive trauma and eventually lead to a painful break in your spine’s support system.

How fast you move or lift objects also influences the loads experienced by your back. And so does the angle and the movement, such as lifting an object from the floor or a stool.

Improper lifting techniques are a common cause of lower back injuries. Whether it’s your office bag, your pet, or your Amazon parcel, the way you lift can either protect your back or put it at risk.

Life in London means carrying groceries or kids’ school bags up the stairs or on walks. Learning the right way to lift is non-negotiable; it’s a skill that’ll serve you well.

We emphasise the importance of proper lifting techniques—bending at the knees, keeping the load close to your body, and avoiding twisting movements. Learning and practising these techniques can prevent unnecessary strain on your back.

8.   Relying Too Much on Painkillers

Given how busy our schedules are in London and globally, it’s hard to take things slow and tend to our back pain. As such, over-the-counter painkillers seem like an easy solution.

But painkillers are a temporary bandage, not a cure. Overuse can lead to dependency and mask the real issues. You should focus on addressing the root cause by getting back pain physiotherapy treatment.

9.   Following Doctor TikTok

In the age of information overload, it’s tempting to seek answers online. However, generic advice can’t replace personalised care. Your back pain is unique, and your treatment should be too.

We recommend steering clear of one-size-fits-all solutions and, instead, getting tailored physiotherapy for back pain based on a thorough assessment and shared decision-making.

10.   Seeking Quick Fixes

Beware of instant cures and promises.

True recovery is a journey, not a sprint. It demands active engagement in your treatment, not passive remedies. Patience, persistence, and a mix of active and passive treatments will be your allies.

Ready to Get Rid of Your Lower Back Pain for Good?

At Clearcut Physiotherapy Clinic in Eltham, Battersea, Norbury, or Woolwich, we understand the challenges of living with lower back pain. Our approach is holistic, combining expert knowledge with a personal touch to guide you through your recovery journey.

Don’t let back pain hold you back. Let’s start this journey together, with the right foot (and back) forward.