80% of adults have experienced back pain. You might have had conversations with coworkers or family members about back pain. It’s easy for back pain myths to spread.
Some people will tell you back pain is just a natural part of getting older, for example, and there’s nothing you can do about it.
Others will tell you that the best thing you can do for back pain is lie on the couch for a week.
Today, we’re debunking some of the most common myths about back pain.
Myth #1: Back Pain is an Inevitable Part of Getting Older
Some people will tell you that back pain gets worse with age. This can be true for many people. However, if you are already feeling back pain in your 30s and 40s, then that doesn’t mean you have to resign yourself to feeling terrible for the rest of your life.
Disc degeneration happens slowly over time. If you ignore back pain and carry on with your habits, then yes, back pain will inevitably get worse over time. However, there are ways to prevent or reduce disc degeneration with age.
Some people find quitting smoking reduces disc degeneration and improves back pain symptoms, for example. Others find staying hydrated or improving posture helps.
Myth #2: The Best Way to Heal My Back Pain is to Rest
Some people believe that resting your back is the best way to heal or prevent back pain.
“Just relax for the weekend. It’s the best thing you can do for your back.”
In reality, too much inactivity will decondition the spine even further. Your back pain might feel better temporarily because you’re not using your back; however, your back will be more prone to pain in the long run.
For most, the best way to heal the back long-term is to strengthen the spine and teach it to move properly. If you avoid exercise or live a sedentary lifestyle, then you could be making back pain significantly worse in the long run.
Myth #3: My Back Pain is Caused By a Single Event
“Man, my back has been sore since that ski accident in 2005.”
Some people develop a severe back injury from a single event. Most back pain, however, is not caused by one single event: it’s caused by a buildup of many smaller events – like poor posture or poor lifting positioning – over a long period of time.
Most back pain is simply wear and tear. You’ve walked with bad posture for 10 years, for example, or you spend long hours in an uncomfortable desk chair at work every day. For most people, this long-term wear and tear is what causes back pain – not a single, specific event.
Myth #4: The Best Way to Prevent Back Pain is to Sit Up Straight
“Slouching is bad for your back. Sit up straight!”
It’s true that slouching is bad for your back. At the same time, however, sitting up too straight and still for long periods of time can also put a strain on your back – especially if your body isn’t used to sitting in that position.
Take a break from keeping your back straight. The best way to take a break is to stand up and maintain good posture. Or, lean back in your chair with your feet on the floor and let your back curve slightly. If you’re forcing your back to stay straight for an extended period of time, you could cause more back pain.
Myth #5: I Can’t Have Back Pain Because I’m Skinny
Being overweight is linked to back pain. Your body is supporting more pounds than it’s accustomed to. For many people, that leads to back pain.
However, that doesn’t mean skinny people are immune from back pain. Anyone can get back pain. People who are extremely thin may have bone density problems or bone loss. This can wreak havoc on your back worse than obesity. Many of those who suffer from anorexia, for example, are at a higher risk of broken bones and crushed vertebrae.
Myth #6: A Firmer Mattress is Best for Relieving Back Pain
“You need to use a firmer mattress. Those soft mattresses are so bad for your back.”
In reality, science has shown that firmer mattresses aren’t necessarily better for back pain. This study performed by researchers in Spain in 2003 analyzed how the firmness of a mattress was related to low back pain symptoms.
Researchers took 313 adults with low back pain. They gave half of the group a “firm” mattress and the other half a “medium-firm” mattress.
Researchers found that patients using the medium-firm mattress had better outcomes for pain and movement than patients with firm mattresses. Because of this, researchers concluded that a mattress “of medium firmness improves pain and disability among patients with chronic non-specific low-back pain.”
When 80% of adults have experienced back pain, it’s easy for myths to spread. People feel different back pain symptoms. A back pain solution that works for some might not work for others.
Consider scheduling a consultation with the back pain experts at Renew Chiropractic in Denver, Colorado today