The 5 biggest mistakes when it comes to taking care of your back

1. Slumping
– No posture is good posture if sustained for long periods. However if your lower back, hip or leg pain is aggravated sitting or with repeated or sustained forward bending activities like gardening or lifting, then your back problem has an important postural component. No amount of acupuncture, massage or spinal adjustments/manipulations can change this fact.

2. Ignoring the early warning signs – Severe bouts of back pain are often preceded by lower back stiffness. Patients will often inform me that they encounter back stiffness on waking, rising from sitting or simply standing. This is not normal, nor is it just a sign of aging. Don’t ignore it.

3. Lifting weights is bad for your back – Poor technique and rapid progressions are likely to lead to lower back pain, however, when sufficient emphasis is placed on technique, lifting weights is not bad for your back, in fact it can reinforce efficient and safe movement patterns.

4. It’s just tight muscle – While massage may feel good and “target all the right spots” it often falls short when it comes to eliminating back pain. Although muscle tightness can give rise to lower back pain, it’s not the most common cause and simply addressing muscle tightness or spams will generally not have a long-term effect. It can in fact make certain back problems worse.

5. Back pain is recurrent – Research demonstrates that roughly 40% of people who experience back problems are likely to have ongoing issues. While we all want pain relief, it’s very important to make sure you implement prevention strategies. This does not mean regular visits to your health professional, but learning how YOU can prevent pain from returning and what to do at the first sign of symptoms returning.

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What is Sacroiliac Joint Dysfunction?

I commonly encounter patients with lower back pain who have been told their pain is the result of sacro-iliac joint dysfunction (SIJ dysfunction).

A diagnosis of SIJ dysfunction is based taking a verbal history and a number of movement and palpation tests that have been well documented within manual therapy textbooks.

Unfortunately, these tests demonstrate poor diagnostic accuracy and a lack of reliability.

For those interested in a thought provoking and scientific appraisal of SIJ dysfunction and SIJ pain, I suggested having a look at the link provided below. Joint

Effective Pain Relief During Pregnancy

Pregnancy and back painAcupuncture has been used for centuries to effectively treat women suffering pelvic pain (sacroiliac joint and pubic joint pain) during pregnancy.

For relieving pelvic pain in pregnant women, a study published in the British Medical Journal found “Acupuncture was superior to stabilising exercises.”

In fact, acupuncture was shown to be more effective than standard treatment or stabilising exercises.

Please feel free to share this post with family and friends, especially if they’re pregnant.

Read the research

Love Gardening, But Your Back Doesn’t?

Gardening & Back PainFor many of us, including myself, spring means gardening. Whether you love or hate it, one thing’s for certain, it involves lots of forward bending.

Digging holes, pulling weeds, lifting, cutting the grass, pruning and planting all involve forward bending or flexion of the lumbar spine. While there’s nothing wrong with flexion, when performed repeatedly or in a sustained fashion, it frequently leads to acute episodes or aggravation of lower back pain and sciatica.


• Think before you lift. Bend your knees & keep your chest up.
• Weed on all fours rather than bending down or crouching.
• Avoid long periods of forward bending. Spread the work over
a couple of days or a few weekends.
• Take regular breaks and reverse your posture.
• Avoid lifting and forward bending first thing in the morning.
This is when discs are more likely to be injured.
• Get help with heavy lifting.

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Don’t take your back pain lying down!

Back PainPerforming 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.

Want to learn more about the McKenzie Method? Click here.

Please feel free to share this post with anyone you know who suffers from back pain.

Paracetamol & Back Pain

Parcetamol & Back PainAs you may be aware, a recent study published in the Lancet, revealed paracetamol not to be to be effective in relieving back pain.

Obviously, this has resulted in a number of articles being published, highlighting the drugs ineffectiveness. Some of these articles have pointed out that roughly 80% of us will experience lower back pain at some point. They also explain that 50% of the people in the study were “better” within two weeks, regardless of whether they received paracetamol or not, and they encouraged those suffering from back pain to stay active.

Many of the patients consulting me for lower back pain, describe a common pattern. They have typically experienced several episodes of back pain, often over many years, with each episode being a little more severe. Often, pain that began in the lower back, has since spread to the buttock, thigh or lower leg and symptoms have persisted for longer periods. Previously, these patients were in the 50% group, getting better within two weeks.

What this pattern shows us is that lower back pain does often get “better” within two weeks, however, it is often recurrent. In fact, there is evidence to suggest that 40-50% of patients go on to develop recurrent lower back pain.

The recurrent nature of lower back pain is what we should be addressing and explaining to our patients. Having them resume normal activities, the same activities that possibly played a role in the onset of their back pain, may in fact play be linked to the recurrent nature of the problem. Those of us that have suffered lower back pain, myself included, know that there are certain movements and postures that aggravate our pain and possibly others that ease it. When in pain we naturally to avoid painful movements, however, we soon return to these previously painful movements once our pain is “better”. Just remember those movements were painful for a reason! Pain is a warning that something is wrong, just like your engine warning light.

There is certainly some truth in telling patients they will get “better” in a few weeks and to keep active, however, I believe that this message may be doing those who suffer back pain a disservice. Back pain is not a diagnosis, it’s a symptom with many causes. However, it is often recurrent because we continually subject our backs to sustained poor posture, slumping over the computer and performing everyday movements and exercisers with poor technique. These mechanical factors need to be addressed in those suffering from back pain and in my experience, when they are, lower back pain can typically be managed and it’s recurrence significantly reduced.