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What is best for back pain, rest or movement?

Opinions on whether to rest or to move have changed dramatically over the years. Many years ago if you had a bad back, the advise was to lay flat for several weeks. However, research and science has proved that movement actually is much better for most instances of back pain.

Many people I see are in a lot of pain, and as a result of that pain, they tense and brace themselves when they move and the muscles remain in spasm. Often people want to stay in bed or just sit, but this actually causes your back to stiffen up even more and it can prolong the pain.

When people are in pain, it is also common to guard against too much movement and many even hold their breath when they are in pain. This is a natural response to pain. However, when muscles remain in spasm it is counter-productive and will actually cause more discomfort. Therefore, breathing and relaxing exercises can be helpful. The techniques used at The Injury Clinic helps to calm the nervous system and reduce muscle spasm, pain and inflammation.

Rest for up to 48 hours can be beneficial in acute back pain, but longer than that and you can actually slow down the healing process. Movement helps to stimulate the circulation, encourage healing and promote the synovial fluid within the joints. What kind of movement or exercise? Walking and swimming are excellent forms of exercise. Gentle stretches and the back exercises mentioned in last weeks Fitness Friday post on our website and Facebook are also recommended. Pilates is a very good way of strengthening your back and abdominals to help recovery and also to prevent future back issues. Obviously common sense is involved in recovery from back pain. It is not advisable to do high impact exercise or spend hours gardening if you are still in pain and on pain control medication. So the final word is "use it or lose it!" Keep moving and stay healthy.

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