Q&A – back pain myths: What you need to know
85% of Germans experience back pain at least once in their lives. In fact, it’s in the top 3 most common causes of sick leave and early retirement.
But where does it come from? The root of most back problems can’t be seen by x-ray or MRI scans, because there are many causes.
Our psyche also has a considerable influence on back problems, and because most of us don’t know how we first came to be injured, it’s difficult to know how to treat it.
Anyone with a back problem will receive infinite amounts of well-intentioned advice from friends and relatives – after all, everyone’s had it at some time or another. But don’t blindly follow the assumptions and tips of self-appointed back experts* – instead focus on understanding your own injury. To help you do that, we spoke to physiotherapist Alice Ploeger.
If you want to learn more about this topic, then you have the unique chance to follow up with Alice herself in a live session on our Instagram account. On October 19th at 18:30 o’clock she will answer all your back-related questions. Simply submit your questions here!
But now, let’s differentiate fact from fiction:
Myth 1 – Sitting down causes back pain
Not everyone who sits a lot automatically develops back pain. However, the back of a person who sits all day long, for work reasons for example, needs to move more and take regular physical breaks. After all, pain isn’t caused by sitting in incorrectly, but by spending a long time in one fixed position.
Many people today don’t exercise enough and they suffer from “false illness.” This means the origin of back problems is much more complex than it seems at first glance. It could be caused by systemic diseases, inappropriate posture and movement, or simply by too much negative stress.
Myth 2 – Only sports-avoiders get back pain
Active people can suffer from back pain, too. Unfortunately, nobody is immune to it. I know from my own experience. When it happens, it’s important to pause and reflect on your training and seek advice from a new trainer* or therapist.*
Furthermore, not every sport is good for your back. In sports with abrupt stops, such as tennis and squash, and in most team sports, the strain on your back is greater than in yoga, for example. Nevertheless, sport and exercise offer the best protection against painful back problems.
That’s why it’s better to take the stairs instead of the lift, to get on your bike or walk to your destination.
Good posture almost always ensures a healthy back. However, there is no such thing as the wrong posture, just too little exercise! Therefore, I would advise everyone to prioritise sport and fitness in everyday life. The best way to ensure a healthy back is:
- Build up basic endurance
- Sleep sufficiently (7 to 8 hours a night)
- Avoid unnecessary stress
- Strengthen your body with weight training.
With the right advice, detailed understanding and a lot of personal responsibility on the part of the patient, most back pain can be quickly and permanently brought under control.
Myth 3 – If you suffer from back pain, you should stay in bed
In most cases of back pain bed rest is poison and in 95% of cases exercise helps you heal. Even a 30-minute walk a day can prevent back pain. I would recommend heat and cold to treat back pain at your own discretion – whatever your preference.
Sometimes it’s enough to live a healthy lifestyle. Nevertheless, if you suffer from back pain, it’s important to discuss all therapy methods with an expert*. Under no circumstances should you follow false beliefs and rely on the advice of those around you. The best way to heal is to take an active approach to back pain with expert guidance.