Low Back Pain - What You Need to Know
Low Back Pain is the most common condition we see in our Practices. It effects 70-90% of the population at some stage in their life1. So, when it comes to Lower Back Pain it’s often a matter of 'when, not if'. Whether you’ve experienced back pain in the past, or this is your first episode, you know how distracting and debilitating it can be. For insight into the causes, treatment options and preventative measures you can take for low back pain, read on.
What is the lower back?
Your lower back is made up of 5 Lumbar vertebrae (bones); discs, which sit between the vertebrae and provide cushioning for the joints; ligaments which help to stabilise the vertebrae; and muscles which control the movement of your back. These structures form a strong and cohesive unit that normally works well, allowing you to go about your normal activities without pain or dysfunction, however sometimes one or all of these structures do not work as they are supposed to. This can cause pain, and stop you from completing your activities as normal.
What can cause lower back pain?
Your back is made to move, but sometimes due to injuries we can’t move—or even rest—as we would like. There are many potential causes for low back pain, including:
- Tight muscles
- Intervertebral discs
- Facet joints
- Nerve root compression
- Degeneration with age
- Narrowing of the spinal cord canal
Contributing factors to lower back pain
With a range of causes and contributing factors, Back pain is not the same for everyone. It's our job as Physios to identify what causes and factors are influencing your specific pain or discomfort to provide the optimal treatment and advice. Some common factors include:
- Previous injury
- Lack of 'core' stability
- Tight hip muscles
- Stiff thoracic spine
- Occupation (both sedentary and manual)
- Age-related degeneration
- Body weight
How can a physio help with back pain?
- We provide education around the reason for your lower back pain, what to avoid and how to prevent it in the future
- Manual therapy: stretching of tight muscles, joint mobilisations/manipulation, myofascial release, soft tissue massage
- Motor control retraining - activate poorly performing muscles and then building strength and endurance
- Supervised exercise therapy
- Home exercise program to improve flexibility, stability/control and strength
Core strength and back pain
Chances are, you’ve heard about the importance of core stability. When we think of our core muscles, we often think of our abs. In a normal ab workout, we might do exercises like sit ups or planks, but this isn’t necessarily the best way to build core stability.
In the video below, our physio, Justin explains why core stability is key to managing your back pain and the type of exercise we might recommend to build your core strength.
Clinical Exercise for lower back pain
Clinical Exercise is a form of supervised exercise that incorporates stabilisation of the core muscles to increase flexibility, muscle strength and endurance, while integrating both posture and balance.
Clinical Exercise is performed on the floor and with specialised equipment such as a reformer or trapeze table. During the mat exercises, participants predominantly lie on their backs or stomach and use gravity to help increase their core strength. Many of the mat exercises are non-weight bearing and can range from amateur to an advanced level of exercise.
The reformer and trapeze table provide varied resistance using specialised springs to aid in strength and endurance training while allowing exercise to be completed in a safe and controlled environment.
To learn more about your specific situation and how a physio can help, find your nearest Back In Motion Practice here.
1. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. 2020. Back Problems, What Are Back Problems? - Australian Institute Of Health And Welfare. [online] Available at: