To Rest or not to rest?

Imagine the scenario, you've spent the day outside gardening because it has been the first sign of a well over due spring; you've worked all day trying to get on top of all those jobs that have been mounting up for months - next day you attempt to get out of bed and you're hit by sudden pain that feels like someone has jabbed a knife into your back. Muscles go into spasm like guitar strings locking you into position, the pain is enough to bring tears to the eyes. 

At this time of year this kind of issue is not uncommon, but what do you do next? Do you take painkillers, ice it, put heat on it, rest or try and work it off. Well 20 years ago you would have been advised to lay on the floor for two weeks. 40 years ago you may have been fitted for a restrictive corset. Nowadays we give different advice.

Should you rest when you've got back pain?

We want you to keep moving but rest at the same time - a bit like patting your head and rubbing your tummy right at the same time! It is all about finding the middle ground; we don't want you to do nothing, but trying to carry on with normal daily activities will also aggravate the situation.

Bed rest is bad for the spine because the spine does not have the ability to get nutrients like most parts of the body. It needs motion in order to move nutrients throughout the vertebral discs. A lack of motion can cause loss of strength and impair the spine’s ability to rehabilitate. Even 5 days of bed rest is enough to result in atrophy (weakening) of the important muscles that stabilise and support the spine.

A good rule of thumb is to crack on with the essentials and avoid everything else. So gardening, hoovering, dusting, decorating -all non-essentials. But things like making lunch, going to the shops, walking the kids to school are all perfect for someone who is struggling with their back. Painkillers take some of the edge off the pain and some relief from low back pain, but are only masking the symptoms, you have to be careful with their use. Your body will tell you when you are doing too much and if painkillers are masking that signal you won't know when to stop.

Working out what has caused your back pain is what a Chiropractor is good at. At Chiropractic First we look for the reasons, rather than the symptoms. If you don't find the cause it's liable to come back. For an appointment with the Grimsby Chiropractor call 01472 488082.

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