Physical Therapy For Back Pain

Blaine MitchelAll, Back Pain, TreatmentsLeave a Comment

Back pain remedies come in lots of different varieties, but one thing is always the same – we are all responsible for our bodies and our choices. What works for one person may not suit someone else. Sometimes, finding the right medication is all about trial-and-error.

It can be easy to just turn yourself over to a professional when you need to, and whilst we strongly recommend this, it’s also a good idea to understand about what’s being recommended to you. It will help you (and your doctor) decide if a medicine or treatment is working for you.

All of these treatments are conventional; as a result you can trust they have scientific evidence to back them up. However, this doesn’t mean they all work perfectly for everybody, but they’ve been proved to a high medical standard that they are effective. Experienced doctors will have seen them work for other patients and so may be advising that you use them too.


Physical therapy is great because it’s customized around you and your specific needs. It can take a few appointments or lots of sessions to get you back on track. It all depends on your condition and progress. A session usually lasts between 20 minutes to an hour. Luckily, insurance often covers doctor-prescribed physical therapy.

An important aspect of physical therapy is that it shouldn’t end when the session does. You should do the exercises which have been recommended to you by the therapist every day in order to maximise the benefit. Also, keep in mind that you may not feel better instantly; in contrast you may actually feel worse after a few days until your muscles adjust.

Patients are usually referred to physical therapy (also called physiotherapy) by a doctor. Physiotherapists are educated in anatomy, body mechanics, and movement. The aim of a physical therapist is to get you back to moving as normally as possible as soon as possible. Effective physical therapy includes education, therapeutic exercise, as well as hands-on treatment.

Heads up

Wear baggy clothes to your physical therapy appointments. The therapist will need to assess your posture, flexibility, and movement, so you’ll want clothing which doesn’t restrict you. A physical therapist may also need touch you in a similar way to a massage therapist.



The way in which you sit, stand, and walk all affect the health of your spine. If you have physical therapy, you’ll be taught the correct movement and proper body alignment. Jobs and daily life typically require unique movements including picking up children or sitting staring at a computer all day. Knowledge of good postural habits for these daily activities will go a long way toward rehabilitating and maintaining a healthy back.

It isn’t unusual for this to require some neuromuscular reeducation, due to the way you’ve been using your back. Sure, you’ve been walking, sitting, standing, and lifting since you were three years old, but you could have picked up some bad habits along the way.

To have a joyful, pain-free body, we require strong, flexible muscles. Stretching is a vital part of an exercise program. If muscles are too tight, they can become painful and pull our bones out of alignment. Tight hamstrings and hip flexors (muscles which pull your thigh up) are both common reasons behind in lower back pain. It’s a good idea to keep these muscles flexible.

Exercises which aim to re-educate your neuro muscular junctions often involve balance, coordination, and posture. For instance, physios may have you do such exercises as standing on one leg or stabilizing one body part whilst moving another. Over time, the bad habits should disperse, creating healthier movements.


Muscles and nerves cooperate to create movement. As time passes, we often develop habitual patterns of movement (some beneficial, some not). These are stored in our muscle memory. If there are repetitive poor patterns, trauma, or damage to either the nerves or muscles, we may need to relearn movements or learn how to do them properly, a process known as neuromuscular reeducation.


Therapeutic Exercise

Lots of people with back problems, particularly those who suffer from chronic pain, may be deconditioned, this means that their muscles aren’t as strong as they should be in order to support their bodies and participate in daily movements. This is why exercise is a key aspect of physical therapy. You should anticipate being moved and moving on your own if you’re going to start physio therapy. Also expect customized exercises as homework. These are designed to address activities of daily living—meaning proper form for getting in and out the car, walking, sleeping, etc.

The more you contribute to your recovery the faster your recovery will be. Physical therapy involves exercises with equipment including large inflatable balls, hand weights, and treadmills.


Hands-On Treatments

As well as exercises, physical therapy often involves various hands-on techniques (called modalities) done in the therapist’s office, such as hot/cold pack treatments, soft-tissue massage to relieve muscular tension, and physical manipulations which aim to realign the spine. During some of these treatments you will resist against the gentle force of the therapists’ hands and during others you will be sessile as the therapist pulls on a body part or presses on a tight muscle.

Physical therapy can be physically challenging and at times uncomfortable. But it’s worth it, you’ll be rewarded with a body which moves and feels better than when you started, and have the knowledge on how to keep it like that.

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