Top 4 Myths About Low Back Pain

By Ehren Allen, DPT/Certified Orthopedic Manual Therapist

Myths About Low Back Pain

Low back pain is widespread, especially with so many people working in sedentary jobs.  There are a lot of theories out there about how to fix Low back pain.  As a physical therapist, I’ve treated hundreds, if not thousands of patients with low back pain over the past 20 years.  I’ve learned that many myths exist about treating Low Back Pain that doesn’t work.

Low back pain is very common. There are 4 top myths about fixing low back pain that people should be aware of.

Top 4 myths about fixing low back pain


Top 4 Myths about fixing Low Back Pain

  1. Stretching the Hamstrings
  2. Sit until it gets better
  3. Do more sit-ups
  4. Use heat

These are myths and rumors.  The fact is that most people get back pain at some point during their life.  These treatments don’t usually help.

To learn more about low back pain, please watch “Where Back Pain Begins.”

Myth #1 – Stretch the Hamstrings to Help Low Back Pain

Top 4 Myths About Low Back Pain

Hamstring stretch can apply pressure to the sciatica nerve.

The poor hamstrings get blamed for everything.  But most of my patients with low back pain have normal hamstring flexibility.  The hamstrings are the muscles in the back of the thighs.  You can feel the pull when you bend forward to touch your toes.

Often with low back pain, some symptoms radiate down the back of the leg. This is sometimes referred to as Sciatica.  Sciatica in the back of the thigh can feel like an ache in the hamstrings.  It is natural to try to stretch them to try to help the pain.  If the pain is from Sciatica, stretching the hamstrings can also apply pressure to the sciatic nerve.  The pain may feel a little better at first, but there is often increased pain later.

Myth #2 – Sit until the Low Back Pain Gets Better

Top 4 Myths About Low Back Pain

Avoid sitting long periods.

Sitting is one of the worst things you can do when you have low back pain.  Sitting places the spine in a flexed position.  When this happens, the fluid inside the disks in the low back can get pushed back toward the back of the disk.  Over time, it can wear out or irritate the back of the disk.  This can lead to an increase in low back pain and Sciatica.

If the Low back is already painful, prolonged sitting continually applies pressure to the already inflamed tissue.  It’s kind of like hitting your thumb with a hammer over and over and expecting it to stop hurting.

Avoiding prolonged sitting is better to help most types of low back pain.  If you do need to sit, sit with proper, erect posture.

Myth #3 – Do More Sit-Ups to fix Low Back Pain

Top 4 Myths About Low Back Pain - do more sit ups for back pain

Sit-ups are not good for lower back pain.

Sit-ups aren’t necessarily a bad exercise, but they are not good if you have low back pain.  The forceful flexion movement of the spine with sit-ups can increase pain and irritation in the low back. Sit-ups mostly work out large global mover muscles in the abdomen.  Those muscles do very little to help stabilize the spine or provide “CORE” stability.

If you have low back pain, it is better to do gentle movement exercises that avoid flexing the spine.  If you want to start working on the core, start with simply drawing in the lower abdomen for about 5 to 10 seconds at a time.  Try it lying face down and face up.

Myth #4 -Use Heat to help Low Back Pain

Heat is one of the 4 top myths for low back pain

Heat does not usually help with low back pain.

If you have an injury, ice is usually the best initial treatment, at least for the first 48 hours.  But in the low back, the structures usually involved are very deep beneath layers of muscles and bones.  The chances are that heat is not going to penetrate all the way to the injured area.  But, there are often muscle spasms in the back and buttocks with low back pain.  Heat may soothe the muscles and help with temporary pain control.  Just understand that it probably won’t speed up the healing process.

5 Top Ways to Help Low Back Pain

If you have back pain, here are the top things you should do.

  1. If you can walk, try to stay active.
  2. Avoid forward bending or hamstring stretching temporarily
  3. Avoid prolonged sitting
  4. Adjust your workstation to fit your body or use a standing workstation
  5. Avoid twisting or lifting

To learn about why Back Pain Can’t Wait for Care, watch this VIDEO.

Related Article:

Top Back Doctors in Jacksonville

If your back pain lasts longer than a few days, consider seeing your doctor.  Most of the time, a referral to physical therapy can help to get you back to normal.  If the problem persists, the Jacksonville Orthopaedic Institute offers the area’s top spine doctors and surgeons to help you.  If you want to learn more about Robotic Spine Surgery, please watch this VIDEO.

To schedule an appointment for physical therapy, please call JOI Rehab at 904-858-7045 or read direct access to physical therapy.

If you would like to make an appointment with a JOI Spine Doctor or a JOI Spine Therapist, call 904-JOI-2000, schedule online, or click the link below.

Book An Appointment with a JOI Physician

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