You’re suffering from pain. The last thing you’re probably thinking about is going to the gym. Or maybe you’re thinking about it because you miss going to the gym. Maybe you’re someone who just started going to the gym but your pain has interrupted this. Maybe you’re someone who avoids the gym and has decided that this is definitely not the time to start going because your back hurts. There are endless reasons why people with back pain avoid exercise.
If you’ve suffered from back pain, or any pain, you probably relate to one of those scenarios.
Now, what do you think we recommend doing for your back pain?
You’re on a Physical Therapy website. of course we’re going to promote exercise.
You know it’s good for you, but you choose to rest, ice, take ibuprofen, and a topical cream while hoping and praying that your pain will go away.
You spend more time sitting on the couch or laying in bed on a heating pad.
Maybe it’s been a few days or weeks or months and your back pain is still keeping you down.
Now what? Now it’s time to get up and move! But first, what’s stopped you from taking action? Why haven’t you gotten ahead of your pain?
You’re not the only one. Let’s discuss why people with back pain, like you, avoid exercise.
Coming in at number 1 is fear. Fear that exercise is going to make your pain worse or cause you pain to begin with. You probably could have guessed this one- fear is one of the most common reasons that people avoid exercise when they’re in pain.
When you’re in pain, you’re extra careful and cautious. You try to change your routine and do whatever you can to alleviate the pain.
The problem is, you have to keep on living.
You still have to pick up your kid, get them in and out of the car seat, carry them around the grocery store, etc. It may hurt your back, but you have to do it.
But there’s another big concern. What if it gets worse?
What if it gets so bad that you can’t push through it? At some point, the ibuprofen won’t alleviate the pain and you will have to call out of work. That’s lost time and money. Groceries, gas bills, etc. Life is expensive. You don’t have time to be in pain, so you’re as careful as possible to avoid worsening your pain. But is this really your best option?
No, it’s not. I’ll tell you why.
Pain doesn’t always mean damage. Pain is a type of communication. It’s trying to tell you something.
Just because you’re in pain or your pain gets worse with a certain activity or exercise doesn’t mean that you’re actively damaging your spine or herniating a disc.
Here’s the other piece. I’m sure you have been minimizing activity, moving less, using ibuprofen, ice or heat and your pain probably hasn’t improved.
Rest isn’t working. Why?
Because the body needs to move! People with back pain avoid exercise all the time, but they should do the opposite!
Exercise. Do what you can with your pain tolerance.
Maybe that’s walking instead of running. Maybe that’s bodyweight exercises instead of weighted exercise. There are so many options and ways to move and help your body overcome the pain.
Why suffer when you can work towards recovery and a pain free life?
2. You read somewhere that if you have back pain, avoid exercise
We live in the age of social media. There’s endless information at our fingertips, literally.
Everyone has an opinion about health and fitness. What exercises to do and not to do. The problem is, this information isn’t always accurate or credible.
For example, it’s okay to let your knees go past your toes when you squat. Deadlifting isn’t bad for your back.
To be clear, exercise is NOT bad.
You may have to modify or change how you’re exercising or what you’re doing because of pain, but that doesn’t mean that exercise is bad.
As we’ve discussed in previous blogs, our bodies are resilient. They can adapt and change. They tolerate movement and load very well.
The key is gradual introduction and progression. Gradually introduce a squat. Gradually increase your weight during a deadlift.
It’s all about taking it slow and meeting your body where it is today. There are so many ways to change and modify exercise to improve your pain and allow you to continue to move.
There are not really any bad exercises. The exercise can be “bad” for you right now because it causes pain. Instead of avoiding exercise all together, decrease the load, change the range of motion, and go back to the basics. Then, gradually progress as your pain improves. You’ll be surprised how quickly you start to feel better.
3. Time… or lack thereof. And back pain is the perfect excuse to avoid exercise and not take time out of your day to address your pain.
We’ve all heard it, we’ve all said it. “I don’t have time”. The truth is, there’s almost always time.
There’s always time to walk your dog, watch your favorite show, go out to dinner with your friends, read your favorite book, play video games, etc. The list goes on. There’s always time.
You just have to make the time. You have to prioritize yourself and your health.
I tell my patients this quite often. If you have time to sit around complain, and feel sorry for yourself, then you have time to get up and do something about it.
Your back pain is limiting you, It’s taking time out of your day.
That pain is limiting your ability to care for yourself and others. It’s stopping you from getting work done. It’s taking time away from you. Even worse, it’s taking time away from your family,
We’re here to help you make time. Make it a priority. Schedule it. Put it on your calendar.
We’ll hold you accountable and ensure you take time out of your day to move and improve your pain.
The truth is, the longer you suffer, the more time is lost. Don’t let the pain keep you down. You have a life to live. Let us help you get on with it! Give us a call today at (480) 452-9191 or visit our website here to get started today!