Lower Back Pain – common but is it serious

Lower back pain is very common with around 70% of the population suffering from it at some point in their life. Whilst lower back pain is common it is rarely serious. That is your lower back pain is unlikely to be something you need to go to a hospital about. Having said this I know from experience it can be seriously sore.


lower back pain

Structural problems

The idea that lower back pain is the result of a “structural” problem is very common.  Many physios, chiropractors, osteopaths, doctors still talk about them as causes of lower back pain. All the evidence tells us otherwise. These minor structural “problems” have nothing to do with the pain that you are experiencing. Other ideas that are quite common are that your back is fragile, that a disc herniation is a major problem and so on and so forth.

The idea that structural “problems” like leg length discrepancies are the cause of back pain doesn’t hold up to scrutiny. It builds on the idea of the body as being fragile and therefore lacking the robustness and ability to adapt that it has.

Minor structural issues like leg length discrepancies and a tilted pelvis are red herrings. Even serious problems like stress fractures and disc bulges don’t always cause pain. With disc bulges, it really depends on the direction that the bulge protruding. Is it compressing a nerve of or the spinal cord?

As an example of this. 33 elite teenage tennis players were assessed and found to have a number of spinal problems with only 5 of them given a clean bill of health. The rest had a mixture of stress fractures, osteoarthritis, synovial cysts and disc desiccation. All of them were pain-free!

You are robust

man squatting

Bending over with a rounded back to pick something up will not result in instant serious injury. You can pick up very heavy objects with a rounded lower back. It isn’t the best position to be in to do heavy, demanding work but it isn’t instant doom either.

You will heal too. Even if you did nothing any injury will eventually heal, lower back or otherwise. One of the best things that you can do if you hurt yourself is to keep active as this minimises the effect of avoiding movement. Yes, you want to avoid movements that cause pain but you don’t want to avoid all movement. You also want to keep exploring those movements that were painful so that don’t start to lose them through lack of use.

Brian Carroll, a high-level powerlifter capable of squatting over 450kg, seriously injured his back. Brian had a number of end plate fractures to the vertebra, these are where the discs attach, and a fracture in his sacrum. Through diligent work with Dr Stuart McGill he worked away at restoring his movement. Gradually reintroducing squatting but modifying things to suit him better. The end result of the process was that he got back to lifting similar weight s to what he had before.

How to deal with lower back pain

  1. You need to reduce the perceived threat. This is as simple as avoiding those movements or activities that make your symptoms worse.
  2. Keep active. Whilst you need to avoid painful activities you shouldn’t avoid exercise or activity if it doesn’t make things worse.
  3. Gradually re-introduce more challenging activities. Modify them if you need to but start doing the movements you are scared of as soon as you can.
  4. Gradually increase the amount of the activities.
  5. Once pain free gradually work back up to normal levels of activity.

If you would like to have a chat about how to deal with lower back pain or adjust your training in relation to it,  you can arrange a free phone call. or click here if you’d like to enquire about an appointment.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *