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  • Writer's pictureKirsten DesMarais

3 Things to Avoid - Back Pain Guide: What NOT to do

This is a guide aimed to help you with #backpain by learning what to avoid.

Everyone seems to have an opinion about how back pain should be managed.

This guide will help you sort through a few common opinions and learn what the evidence says about back pain and leveraging a whole body approach!

Movement is medicine! We (physical therapists) have come a long way in learning how movement and other concepts of wellness can positively impact how you feel.

Avoid these main concepts below to move forward on your healing journey!


Avoid strict rest: Movement is medicine

Movement is key during healing and recovery. Even after major surgeries or while in the ICU the benefits of movement are utilized to facilitate reduced time in the hospital and improved long term outcomes.

When recovering from a back injury, finding movement you can tolerate is important. If walking is ok, WALK! If swimming or biking feel decent, then prioritize those things. .

Even 5 minutes of movement can be beneficial. There is grade A evidence to support active recovery strategies and therapy approaches (George, et al., 2021).

Movement exchanges nutrients, blood, and oxygen within the tissues in your body, benefits your blood pressure and inflammatory systems, and reduces the negative impacts that come with sedentary life.

If you are struggling to find a way to stay moving, it may be a good idea to find a PT who can help you navigate this stage of recovery. If you are local to Duluth, MN - I would love to help!

Avoid blaming a type of movement or exercise: Injuries are typically caused by "too much too soon"

Bending, twisting, lifting from the floor - these things are necessary and functional. Blaming them for your injury and limiting these movements in the future is not the answer.

Looking at a broader context to the injury could help lend perspective on how to manage and prepare your body for future exercise and tasks!

Maybe it wasn't the movement/type of exercise/activity that was "the problem"! Maybe your body wasn't well prepared for it.

Calming down the sensitive tissue and then building up tolerance is probably the best place to focus your efforts.

Limiting the type of movement you do only makes your movement world smaller. Let's keep your world and all of the movement options BIG!

Avoid focusing on structure alone: leverage your whole body in your recovery process!

Your body systems don't function independent from one another. We can leverage that!

When you are managing back pain, it is a good time to look at other things going on in your life like:

- Stress and how well you are coping with life

- Relationships/Boundaries

- Nutrition and how you fuel your body

- Hydration

- Sleep

- Beliefs, fears, and, if you have the capacity and support, trauma/mental health

Injury and recovery are directly impacted by the factors above. Set the stage for success! Even small changes make a difference.

Back pain can be tough to navigate!
It is best managed through movement, calming the sensitive structures with the intent to build tolerance and embrace all types of movement, and addressing you as WHOLE PERSON (not simply a back that "needs fixing").

If you want to learn more about my approach to PT or what I do, Click Here


George, S., et al. (2021). Interventions for the Management of Acute and Chronic Low Back Pain: Revision 2021. Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy 51(11). ppCPG1-CPG60

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