7 Back Pain Myths that May Surprise You

Back pain is one of the most common reasons for people to visit a health professional.  There are also many myths as to why people experience back pain. These seven back pain myths may dispel some of the ideas you had about back pain.  The good news for those suffering from back pain, is that very few will require surgery.  For those that do, new techniques that are minimally invasive are being used more often, which means less blood loss, trauma to the surrounding tissues and ultimately a quicker and less painful recovery.  If you suffer from back pain over an extended period of time, especially if it negatively impacts your daily activities we recommend seeking the advice of a health care professional or physical therapist.  There are many specific techniques and exercises that can help alleviate your pain and prevent further damage.

Myth: Always sit up straight to prevent back pain

Yes, slouching is bad for your back, but sitting up too straight too still for too long can be a strain on the back. If you sit a lot, try this a few times a day: lean back in your chair with your feet on the floor and a slight curve in your back. Even better: try standing for part of the day, while on the phone or while reading at work.

Myth: Lifting heavy objects hurts your back

It’s not necessarily how much you lift, it’s how you lift. Of course you shouldn’t lift anything that might be too heavy for you. When you lift, squat close to the object with your back straight and head up. Stand, using your legs to lift the load. Do not twist or bend your body while lifting. It can really hurt your back to twist while bending and lifting with your feet on the floor – as you might do when reaching down from a chair to pick up a dropped pen.

Myth: Stay in bed until back pain goes away

Yes, resting can help an acute injury or strain that causes back pain, but it’s a myth that you should stay in bed. A day or two in bed can make your back pain worse. Current medical advice is to remain active as much as possible.

Myth: Back pain is always caused by injury

There are many reasons for people to have back pain including disc degeneration, diseases, infections and even inherited conditions.

Myth: Skinny people don’t get back pain

Anyone can get back pain. In fact, people who are too thin, such as those with anorexia, an eating disorder, may suffer bone loss resulting in fractured or crushed vertebrae.

Myth: Exercise is bad for your back pain

A big myth. Regular exercise can prevent back pain, and for people suffering an acute injury resulting in lower back pain, health care professionals may recommend an exercise program that begins with gentle exercises and gradually increases in intensity. Once the acute pain subsides, an exercise plan may help prevent future recurrence of back pain.

Myth: A really firm mattress is best for your back

A Spanish study of people with long-standing, non-specific back pain showed that those who slept on a medium firm mattress – rated 5.6 on a scale of one to 10 – hard-to-soft – had less back pain and disability than those who slept on a firm mattress (2.3 on the scale). However, depending on their sleep habits and the cause of their back pain, different people may need different mattresses.

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