Back pain, lower back pain, upper back pain

Busting the myths about back pain!

If you suffer a back injury you can be sure to receive a multitude of advice from well-meaning friends. But is that advice always the right advice?

Our beliefs about pain are formed at a young age and may relate to how our parents reacted to injury. Some parents make light of an injury whilst others are a little more indulgent! It’s no wonder we all react differently when sick or injured.

Read on to find out the fact from the fiction!


Stretching exercises at gym

MYTH 1: Moving will make my back pain worse

FACT: After a back injury people fear twisting and bending movements but it’s essential to keep moving. In the ‘old days’ we used to advise 3 weeks bed rest, but research shows that it’s better to keep on the move and not take to your bed!

We advise our clients to gradually increase how much they are doing and to minimise sitting which tends to stiffen up the back. Instead try to gently potter around your house and gradually increase activity as your symptoms subside.


Light weight training

MYTH 2: I should avoid exercise especially weight training

FACT: Back pain shouldn’t stop you enjoying exercise or regular activities. In fact, studies found that continuing with these can help you get better sooner – including using weights where appropriate.

We can give you advice on what weight training is safe to do. It’s often a case of choosing the right exercises that are safe and taking certain precautions in your technique. Likewise you may not have to give up exercise altogether, but whilst your back is recovering, just choose a form of exercise that’s safe to do. We can help you make this choice.

When suffering with acute back pain it can sometimes be positively helpful to take some short gentle walks or even go for a swim. Just ask one of our physios to advise on what’s best.


MRI of lower back

MYTH 3: A scan will show me exactly what is wrong

FACT: Sometimes it will, but most often it won’t. Even people without back pain can have changes in their spine so scans can sometimes cause unnecessary fear. This fear can influence your behaviour, making the problem worse.

Giving something a formal diagnosis can sometimes make it seem scarier and this can lead you to become more cautious than you need to be which isn’t always helpful.

In low back pain, research has shown that the amount of disc and nerve damage rarely relates to the amount of pain experienced. In fact many of us have scary sounding disc bulges and even squashed nerves, yet may never have any symptoms!



Herniated disc

MYTH 4: Pain equals damage!

FACT: This was the established view but more recent research has changed our thinking.

Modern Physio takes a holistic approach that helps people understand why they are in pain. The biology behind pain is very complex and our Physios can help you understand it better so you can recover safely and quickly.

There are lots of reasons that our brains register a situation as painful. All pain experiences are a normal response to what your brain thinks is a threat. The amount of pain you experience does not necessarily relate to the amount of tissue damage or indeed the presence of any damage.


The NICE guidelines that were updated in November 2016 advocate the following:

Pain control with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (like Neurofen) for pain relief
Manual therapy – manipulation and mobilisation and soft tissue release (a type of massage).
Exercise – in a group setting (our classes are perfect for this).
Maintaining normal activities and keeping mobile and active where possible.

How Physio on the River can help you get back on track

Manual therapy techniques are the tools of our Physiotherapy trade. We can help loosen up your stiff joints, reduce muscle spasm, ease pain and get you moving better. Our massage therapists are also on tap to help relieve muscular tension.
Exercise in a group setting: we offer over 30 classes per week – a mixture of Pilates, Yoga and Dance, Tone and Stretch. Our classes have never more than 7 attendees so there’s lots of individual attention and close supervision. We grade our classes so you can be sure you are exercising at the right level for you. Our Physio, Fiona, is also a Pilates teacher and she takes some special classes called Rehab Pilates classes. They are designed for those recovering from injury or operation. With her depth of background knowledge she is the perfect teacher if you are recovering from back pain.
• We can give you advice on exercising safely during your recovery period and beyond.

To book an appointment with one of our Physios or Massage therapists just call 020 8876 5690, click here to email us or pop in to make the booking in person or chat to one of our physios first.