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Bending over after Low Back Pain

Updated: Dec 12, 2021

Lower back pain is common!

Did you know that 70-90% of the Australian population experience back pain in their lifetime?

Most of the time when you have acute back pain, the thought of bending over to pick up your keys or put on your shoes horrifies you. Our bodies often go into protection mode and all the muscles go into spasm (‘high alert’). This often cause a lot of pain and restriction in movements through our backs and hips. Our bodies are smart and we simply learn different strategies to avoid the painful movements and get through our day-to-day activities. Some of the strategies include keeping our backs as straight as possible, holding our breath and even tensing our core.

What would you say if I told you that some of these strategies will actually make your pain worse and possibly cause this to be a more chronic issue?

You would ask WHY?

Our backs are designed to bend/flex and they actually enjoy movement and axial loading. You will often find that your back is stiff after prolonged periods of no movement. These protection strategies that are helpful in very early stages of an injury, however after the inflammation settles down, we tend to keep these strategies because we will do anything to avoid the pain or the thought of having pain.

So, if you have pain bending over and you are blaming a structural issue (like a bulging disc that you had at least 6 months ago) it’s most likely not this issue causing the pain.

We know that pain is very complex and the way you think about your pain affects your pain experience. If you go to bend over thinking it will hurt, mostly like it will hurt. Consciously tensing up while your bending will also feed into the protection mode and often cause you more pain. We know that breathing is a REALLY great strategy to help your system relax during movements reducing further compression in your back.

Our suggestions:

  • Have confidence in your back

  • Breathe when you bend over

  • Find a physio who can help you build tolerance and resilience into bending movements

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