Performing squats at the gym, some years ago, I experienced severe lower back pain and tightness. Immediately, I made for the exit, fearing I would collapse to the floor, a rather embarrassing prospect for someone who treats back pain for a living. Arriving home, my next job was to exit the car. Well, not as easy as it sounds. Eventually, I managed to get inside and collapsed on the floor where I spent most of that and the following day. I had experienced back pain before, but not like this.
While it’s true that movement is often good for back pain, it’s important to understand that a few days of complete rest can be very beneficial in helping your damaged tissues heal. In those first few days, pain is often constant, with no position or movement providing relief. This type of pain is inflammatory and will be aggravated by any movement, including deep massage and manipulation, which places mechanical stress on the damaged tissues, causing more trauma, inflammation and pain.
Inflammation typically last for 1 – 3 days, at which point you will find there is often a significant reduction in pain, improved movement and function. As your pain reduces and mobility increases you will begin performing those movements and sustained postures that probably contributed to the onset of your pain, so be careful! Any movement or posture that causes pain to increase or spread to your hip or leg should be avoided. The same applies to movements and postures that cause increased stiffness and reduced function.
Once you’re up and moving, make sure you make an appointment to see a McKenzie Method practitioner, who can assist you in identifying the cause of your pain as well as teach you important strategies to help prevent pain from returning.
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