Many people with chronic back pain are prescribed physical therapy as part of their pain management or rehabilitative strategy. There are several reasons physical therapy can improve many back ailments.
Sometimes building strength in both your back and abdomen can improve back pain. Over time, weak muscles in both areas can cause poor posture, which can lead to long-term spine alignment issues. Additionally, old back injuries can cause you to be more sedentary, or sit and stand in an unnatural position, further weakening your back and abdominal muscles. A strengthening program might start with simply paying more attention to your posture and engaging your core muscles as you sit, stand, and walk. The more conscious you are of your posture, the more natural it will feel to have better posture. As you become stronger, your physical therapist will prescribe exercises that you can safely do, such sit-ups or deadlifts, to target specific muscle groups.
Your biomechanics can often contribute to back pain. Beyond your posture, weaknesses in other areas of the body and gait changes can cause musculoskeletal imbalances, which can contribute to pain. Your physical therapist will want to watch you walk so they can observe anything that might seem unusual. Some issues they might find are pelvic tilt, foot pronation/supination, or knee valgus/varus. Once any issues are identified, your physical therapist can devise a plan to correct some problems. Working on specific muscle groups, such as the hips and pelvis, can remedy some pelvic tilt concerns. Foot pronation or supination can be managed with shoe inserts. If you have knee valgus or varus, it is not always possible to correct these problems, especially if they are congenital.
Strategic exercises can increase mobility in your back by improving your flexibility. Your physical therapist will likely prescribe stretching exercises, such as regularly bending at the waist in all directions. As your back can tolerate more motion without significant pain, swimming or other water activities may be recommended. Water activities are ideal for people with back pain because it causes less stress on your back and you can easily loosen tight muscles by swimming short, slow laps around the pool. Your physical therapist might also recommend foam rolling or massage if you frequently have tight back muscles that limit your range of motion. Both foam rolling and massage can also help loosen connective tissue that might be responsible for tightness.
Whether you need help to manage back pain or engage in a rehabilitative program, physical therapy is often part of a comprehensive approach to improving your back. Physical therapy can give you the tools necessary to achieve long-term reductions in back pain.
Contact a back pain management facility for more information on dealing with back pain.