Understanding the Causes of Chronic Back Pain and How to Relieve it with Exercise

Back pain has become synonymous with adulthood. Many people have learned to live with chronic lower or upper back pain and adapted their lifestyles around the limitations that come with it. Discovering the precise causes of chronic back pain will enable us to rectify it; whether it is an imbalance, an injury, or a weakness. Few people appreciate just how simple it can be for a number of sufferers to eliminate lifelong pain. It requires thorough investigation and dedication to an exercise regime that brings about the sense of balance that is needed to feel light, energetic, and pain-free.

Understanding The Causes of Chronic Back Pain


Back pain is not a health indicator. In most cases, it is triggered by external factors. The trick to resolving that pain lies in identifying its origin and working to alleviate that situation.

Ironically, the cause of the pain is rarely at the local area in which you feel it. The spine is designed to carry a significant amount of weight while it keeps the delicate spinal cord protected. There is a wide range of root causes of back pain. They can be divided into two main categories;

1.   Chronic pain, which lasts for longer than six months, lingering in the background like a steady and persistent ache, and;

2.   Acute pain, a sharp, piercing pain that comes on suddenly.

The Typical Causes of Chronic Back Pain

Understanding where the pain is stemming from, beyond merely where it manifests, is the key to pinpointing its actual cause. Once we’ve established this, we can start to work on correcting the problem. Possible causes include;

Underactive Muscle Groups – When a particular set of muscles or even an individual muscle is underdeveloped, there must be a degree compensation elsewhere to carry that load. Typically, surrounding tissues will bear the extra work, which leads to strain. Eventually, if left unaddressed over time, this can evolve into chronic back pain.

Overactive Muscle Groups and Imbalances – Overactive muscles are the ones compensating for a lack of activity from another muscle group. This situation can also occur as the result of an imbalance when opposing muscle groups are overactive. This can trigger a phenomenon known as cross-axis, where you may experience tightness in opposing groups. For example, a weak core can result in tight hamstrings, glutes, and hip flexors. Over time, this strain becomes one of the causes of chronic back pain.

Injuries – While a strained muscle may recover unassisted, the movement patterns you have adopted during the healing process also form part of an imbalance, as other muscles are compensating on behalf of the injured ones. This can lead to imbalances, strain and chronic pain. For example, serious leg injuries such as a torn Achilles’ heel or cruciate ligaments have long recovery times that can leave the sufferer walking with a modified gait. This can put stress on joints and soft tissue in the back that are now bearing an unfamiliar burden for an extended period, resulting in eventual damage.

Tight Muscles – When muscles tighten, they shorten. Muscles that are frequently tightened and shortened are usually compensating for a weakness to allow you to continue with your usual range of movements.

Lifestyle & Behavioural Factors – Poor posture, sitting for prolonged periods, a lack of physical activity and being overweight can also trigger the causes of chronic back pain.

Posture – As we’ve just mentioned, posture plays a significant role in chronic backache and requires far more attention. Referred pain, neck pain, back pain, and shoulder pain often have their roots in poor posture. To truly understand the enormity of this issue, let’s delve into it a little more deeply. Poor posture can be identified by the following symptoms or signs;

●        Rounded shoulders

●        A protruding stomach

●        Tilted hips

●        Backache

●        Headaches

●        Muscle fatigue

Poor posture is different from slouching. It’s often the result of a weakness or a tightness in the body, resulting in a deviation from your natural stance. Fixing your posture may require strengthening exercises or stretches to address the problematic areas.

How to Prevent Pain

It is easy to remember to take measures in your daily life to prevent pain once you have experienced it. Chronic and acute pain are both deeply unpleasant and severely limit the activities you can undertake. This, in turn, can profoundly influence your quality of life and productivity.

Step 1: Become aware of your surroundings

It’s crucial to keep a mental note of your posture. Are you sitting up straight? If you are seated for prolonged periods, are you conscious of taking regular breaks to stretch and move around? Be aware of the sensations in your body and learn to read the signs to limit or prevent pain before it hits. It is easy to become distracted by whatever activities you’re engaged in at the time. However, with practice and effort, you can train yourself to feel if there is a point in your body that is experiencing strain. Once you’ve identified a looming issue, manoeuver your position until any discomfort is gone.

Step 2: Exercises to Combat The Causes of Chronic Back Pain

Determining the correct treatment protocol requires a personalised evaluation. However, there is a regularly observed set of problems that seem to hinder the vast majority of chronic back pain sufferers. These exercises target the weaknesses and the tightness that is typically associated with common back pain. It is always a good idea to have a diagnosis before exercising.

The protocol we recommend is called the Stretch and Strengthen Principle. While massages, medications and oils can alleviate some of the pain, the true remedy lies in addressing its root cause. By stretching and strengthening the relevant muscle groups, you can achieve an equilibrium that can bring lasting relief. These exercises include motions such as;

●        Standing Chest Stretch

●        Upper Back Foam Roller

●        Lying Down “Y” Stretch

●        Seated Row

Step 3: When to Seek Medical Advice (Immediately)

While muscular pain is the most common back complaint, there are times when the pain may indicate something far more severe. If you experience the following symptoms associated with acute pain, seek medical care urgently;

●        Fever

●        Trauma (like falling out of a tree)

●        Numbness or tingling

●        Loss of bowel or bladder function

●        Foot drop (if one of your feet lags when you walk)

Overcoming Pain and Finding Freedom in Motion

Pain is a natural warning sign your body uses to alert you to areas of your anatomy that are taking undue strain, or that you are in outright danger of causing damage to your body. For that reason, it is vital to avoid forming habits to numb or circumvent the pain. The ultimate goal is to return your body to a state where the pain is no longer a required response. If you are ready to reverse back pain, get in touch with us today.

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