In Australia, an estimated 3.7 million Australians (16% of the population) have back problems while approximately 70–90% of people will suffer from lower back pain in some form at some point in their lives, making lower back pain the 3rd leading cause of disease burden. 1 While in other Western countries it is associated with increasing medical expenditure, work absence and is the most common musculoskeletal condition.
The most common back pain problems include pain in the lower, middle and upper back caused by a range of injuries and conditions including narrowing of the canal of the spine, numbness and weakness in the legs and degeneration of the spine caused by wear and tear.
In Australia, the clinical practice guidelines for the management of low back pain recommend regular use of paracetamol as the first choice. However, recent evidence suggests paracetamol may not be effective for treating acute low back pain. Despite this evidence, there is still a number of doctors and specialists who are not suggesting exercise therapy to their patients, instead opting for a pharmaceutical approach.
This is where exercise comes in to play as a treatment methodology, especially resistance training, or common called weight training. Resistance training, when done correctly, is a very powerful tool to help combat a number of joint pains and chronic diseases including Osteoarthritis, Diabetes and even depression and anxiety. This does not mean that everyone should go out and lift weights, even simple exercise utilising a person’s own body weight can be effective to start with. One study showed that exercise is an important strategy in the management of back pain regardless of whether the pain is acute or chronic. Proper strength training of the muscles that support the lower, middle and upper back have been shown to significantly reduce pain and provide successful clinical results for patients suffering from chronic back and neck pain. Lastly, low-impact exercises such as speed walking, swimming, or stationary bike riding 30 minutes a day can help increase muscle strength and flexibility and maintain back health as well as maintain and improve cardiovascular health and fitness.
It is important to note that resistance training exercises need to be tailored for a specific injury or problem as not every injury is the same for every person. This is why it is important to seek out qualified professionals such as Accredited Exercise Physiologist to ensure that you get the right care for your situation.