If you’re just jumping in, we’re talking about low back pain and how to relieve it. In my first blog last week, I mentioned that the old acronym for musculoskeletal injuries management was RICE: (Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation). At the present moment the science suggests a new acronym: PEACE and LOVE (Protection, Elevation, Avoid Prolonged Use Of Icing , Compression, Education, Load, Optimism, Vascularization and Exercise).
Last time we talked PEACE, this time: (you guessed it) LOVE.
When you use your body through movement and exercise, the cells and tissues of our musculoskeletal system experience mechanical force; or load. During the rest and recovery period our system adapts to the load it has experienced.
Adaptation is good: it means your body is getting stronger. For example, when you do squats for the first time you are likely to be sore, but if you keep doing squats every few days, your body will adapt and the soreness will lessen.
New studies suggest that rather than totally escaping the aggravating factors of an injury and lying on the couch for 6 weeks, we can instead prepare our bodies for an optimal load.
Example: If the aggravating factors for the low back are flexion based movements like bending to touch your toes, we can start by doing mini crunches and increase the lower spine flexion slowly until it regains its normal range.
- Pain catastrophizing (“I’m in 10/10 pain all the time and it hasn’t gotten any better at all!” or “I’m so broken.”)
- Fear of movement or activity (because you worry it might make things worse)
So: try and identify what you’re telling yourself about your injury. Is your self-talk on the pessimistic side? If you want to influence your outcomes for the better, start telling your brain better things.
Stay realistic, but encourage optimism to improve the chances of an optimal recovery.
Vascularization and Exercise
Studies show that aerobic exercise (simply getting that heart rate up) can benefit low back pain because:
- It increases the blood flow and level of nutrients to the soft tissues in the back,
- It improves the healing process and reduces stiffness.
In addition, 30–40 min of aerobic exercise increases the body’s production of endorphins , which decrease the perception of pain.