Truth: An unfortunate reality is that one of the more common reasons that people come to my office is for back pain that occurred as a result of exercising at the gym or at home
I see patients often perplexed by the fact that they take care of their bodies when an “unfit Joe” they know seems to get by with no back trouble at all.
The truth is that someone hitting the gym every day without using proper technique or doing the correct spine sparing exercises during their workout, will develop cumulative trauma in their discs. Repeatedly bending your back at the gym, followed by long periods of sitting at work, chased down with poorly executed daily tasks such as getting dressed, gardening, vacuuming etc., conspire together to cause the slow degeneration of the spinal joints and discs and eventual back pain.
“Unfit Joe,” who sits all day, doesn’t experience the same strain on his back that a gym superstar does by aggravating their disc injuries every time they sit. In terms of pain, their spines are better off! The key is not to stop working out! The secret is in changing your default movement patterns and doing the proper exercises so that you can enjoy the benefits of fitness without compromising your back.
One of the more common responses I get when I ask patients to describe their back pain, is that they are stiff and sore when they get up in the morning but it gets better as the day goes on.
Some people are told or believe that lying down is always the best thing to do with back pain.
Here is my take on this subject.
First off let me say that if you have a normal functioning spine with no amount of disc degeneration or arthritis you should not experience this problem.
Those who do have these problems are susceptible to many things and one of these is that lying in bed for excessive periods actually causes back pain. Let’s examine this more closely. A little known fact is that we are all actually taller first thing in the morning than we are before we go to bed at night. This comes down to our spinal disks. The disks in between each of our vertebrae are packed with very concentrated protein chains that love water. When we lie horizontally, the discs fill with fluid and gently push the vertebrae away from one another, lengthening the spine. The reason, our backs are often stiff in the morning is that weak or damaged discs are so full of fluid, like water balloons ready to burst. When we get up in the morning, and our spines are once again vertical, the excess of fluid in each disc begins to seep out and an hour or two after rising from bed we have returned to our normal heights.
This natural ebb and flow of water in and out of the discs is what allows the discs to obtain nutrition. Problems arise, however, when the spine remains in a horizontal position for too long.