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Movement Combats Back Pain


Back pain, which statistics show will affect 75 percent of us at least once in our lifetimes, might make you think you need to take pain medications and rest until the pain subsides. But new research suggests movement could be the best medicine for the common backache.


There’s a widespread belief that back pain should stop people in their tracks and result in bedrest and Tylenol. But Australian researchers reported in 2014 that that acetaminophen, or Tylenol, does not seem to help people manage back pain.

Chris Sebelski, DPT, associate professor of physical therapy and athletic training at Saint Louis University, says movement might be what back pain sufferers need most to combat their pain and prevent future back pain bouts.

“Instead of sitting at your desk for hours, change positions, stand for 20 minutes, or go for a walk and talk to someone. Movement will keep you healthy and allow you to adjust,” Sebelski said in a Saint Louis University press release.

Keeping the back limber doesn’t take a huge commitment or a gym membership, according to the physical therapist. Rather, simply walking and stretching throughout the day can relieve back stress.

Often pain in the low back can be traced to weaknesses or tightness in other body areas, such as the legs, hips or trunk. By taking a balanced approach to strengthening all these areas, people can avoid overtaxing lower back muscles, which try to compensate for weaknesses in other body areas.

The physical therapist also emphasizes the importance of breathing to help avoid backaches. Breathing stimulates muscles up and down the spine, according to Sebelski.

“Deep breathing really activates key muscles in your trunk,” Sebelski said. “Talk. Laugh out loud. Do cardio. Do yoga. Do things that force you to breathe. This will help your back stay healthy.”

If you experience back pain, think “active rest.” Bedrest weakens the muscles, while moving builds strength. Don’t overdo it, but do what you can to keep moving, according to the physical therapist.

Physical therapists (PTs) are trained to help people recover from and prevent back pain. PTs design exercise programs focused on building strength, balance, flexibility, good posture and agility for total body wellness. For more about what physical therapy can do to address your back pain concerns, contact A Physical Therapist, Inc.

A Physical Therapist, Inc., is a one-on-one physical therapy clinic in Delray Beach, Fla., and Harrisburg, Penn. For patients in Palm Beach County, A Physical Therapist, Inc., is easily accessible from Boca Raton or Boynton Beach. For patients in Dauphin County, A Physical Therapist, Inc., is easily accessible from Hershey and Marysville.

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