This blog is excerpted from a Seacoastonline article by Dr. Carrie Jose on January 15, 2022.

When you’re in pain – especially if it’s back pain – your first inclination may be to lay off all activity and rest. But is this really the best thing to do?

When it comes to back pain – my answer is usually “No”. But I understand why this advice might sound strange or counter intuitive. It’s scary to move when you’re in pain. And how do you know which exercise is best for your back when it hurts? Plus, advice from the medical community often conflicts with current research. Many people suffering from back pain, especially if it’s an acute injury or episode, are told to rest, ice, and take anti-inflammatories.

They are told to limit their movement and activity until their pain goes away. Well science says that 80% of all back problems are mechanical in nature, which means they respond best to movement, even if your back pain is acute.

Understanding Mechanical Pain

Mechanical pain occurs when something in your joint (and your spine is made up of a bunch of joints) is restricted in a way that obstructs your normal movement. It’s why back pain is often accompanied by stiffness. The obstruction can be caused by any structure in your spine, such as a bulging disc, ligament, or even abnormalities from arthritis.  What the research has found with mechanical pain is that if you move in the right way, usually in a specific direction, you can “release” the obstruction.  When you’re able to move normally again without stiffness, you have less pain.

Therefore, although early movement is good for your back when you’re in pain, it’s critical you pick the right type of movement. Some movements and positions will aggravate your back, especially if it’s acute, while others will accelerate your healing. Generally speaking, gentle movement like walking is considered one of the best things you can do when your back is hurting, along with gentle mobility exercises that are direction specific.

More often than not you’ll want to avoid movements that involve bending forward as well as any stretches in this direction. If your back pain involves an irritated nerve or herniated disc, forward stretches such as a child’s pose may feel good in the moment, but they could prolong or possibly worsen your problem.

The only way to know exactly which movement you should do for your particular back pain is to get a proper assessment from a mechanical pain expert. But when it comes to lower back pain, these are the general patterns that we see for movement that is good for your back.

So what about rest? Why is it not advised?

Although most back pain will go away on its own with time – and rest doesn’t necessarily “hurt” you per say – the problem with resting instead of moving is that it can prolong your healing time and trick you into thinking your back problem is gone when it’s really not.

Just because your pain is gone, doesn’t mean your problem is gone. If you’ve got an underlying restriction in your spine that’s causing mechanical back pain, it’s possible to be pain free until you move a certain way again that tweaks your back. Ever “throw your back out” sneezing or getting out of bed in the morning? It’s because you let an underlying mechanical back problem linger.

Perhaps every time you hurt your back you rest until the pain goes away. Well, as we just learned, if your back pain happens to be mechanical in nature, and the odds are pretty good that movement, not rest, is what you need to fully resolve it.

If you suffer from chronic back pain, or perhaps you’re acutely injuring your back every few months, there’s a good chance you aren’t moving your back enough or you haven’t yet found the specific type of movement you need.  Talk to an expert who can help you. You may not think it now, but it’s definitely possible to live a life where you’re able to resolve back pain on your own.

When diagnosed early, you can learn how to control your back pain, but it requires an active approach. Back pain is normal, not knowing how to deal with it doesn’t have to be.

Find Help at Bonati

We encourage all our readers to maintain a careful active lifestyle and walking routine, but if you are still in pain despite this special attention, it may be likely you have a physical (mechanical) abnormality within the spine that requires surgical repair. Our targeted, minimally invasive procedures were invented and patented by Dr. Bonati to treat spinal abnormalities WITHOUT the need for general anesthesia, highly-invasive open back techniques like fusion & hardware, excessive scarring or a long recovery. We can treat all levels of the spine.

If you are dealing with chronic pain, allow our clinical team to review your case to determine if you are a candidate for the Bonati Spine Procedures. To get this review started, simply call us at 844-663-0310 or complete our online contact form and one of our patient advocates will reach out to you directly.

Read the full Seacoastonline here: