Back pain affects most people at some point throughout their lifetime.
Nearly 40% of adults will have an episode of back pain in the course of a year. No one is immune – this can affect individuals of any age, height, size, or activity level!
If you have ever experienced low back pain, you may have not known what is best for you – Should you move? Should you rest? What does the back need? Each episode of back pain you experience may or may not respond to the same course of treatment than the previous one did. How can we ever get a hold of our backs if things keep changing?
The back is built up of many different structures: bones, joints, ligaments, tendons, muscles, and fascia, to name a few! Imaging will not always identify which of these structures is the cause of your back pain – it could be an interaction of many of these structures. What we do know is that backs crave movement. If you have been guarded against certain movements or in pain for a long time, it may not feel like your back is craving anything of the sort!
What is GLA:D Back?
GLA:D Back is a program based on both education and exercise to allow participants to build up their knowledge and physical abilities to better self-manage their back pain. This group-based exercise program is designed to help those who have experienced one or many flare-ups in their back symptoms. It is designed to help participants regain confidence in movement patterns that may have previously been a trigger (or that you have lacked confidence in doing due to your pain). We want to boost your knowledge of what factors can amplify the pain signalling in the body, as well as give you the tools necessary to combat and manage your own symptoms more effectively.
The program itself includes a back assessment, two educational sessions on back pain and eight weeks of supervised exercise, with one final reassessment that includes planning for meaningful exercise and strategies to take you past the end of the program.
What if exercise hurts my back?
In chronic, persistent back pain, certain muscles may be overworked, while others are underworked. We cannot simply go from doing nothing to doing everything! GLA:D Back is designed to introduce movements that a healthy spine requires in a slow, safe fashion to help regain control and coordination of the correct muscle groups during specific movements. The exercises address strength, agility, endurance, and variation of movement, as well as management strategies to divert attention away from pain signalling in the body and a knowledge of what movements are acceptable and should not provoke pain.
Am I a good candidate for GLA:D Back?
You are if you fit the following:
- Have been experiencing low back pain for at least 3 months
- Not in a flare up, nor are you experiencing sciatic symptoms (we recommend that you seek out treatment from a physiotherapist to mediate these symptoms before joining the program)
What can I do right now to manage my pain?
Here are some strategies to try:
- Get moving with some gentle exercise or activity: try going for a walk or a bike ride at a gentle pace, tai chi, or a restorative yoga class – take breaks as needed!
- Stretching or foam rolling: back pain can be exacerbated by tight muscles pulling in all the wrong ways – stretch your hips, legs, back, arms, neck, etc.! Try using a foam roller or lacrosse ball to get a deeper release in some areas that may be more challenging to stretch effectively!
- Heat or ice: be sure to use safe practices and don’t heat or ice for too long! Ask your healthcare practitioner what might be best for you. A general rule is to ice in an acute phase of an injury, or if swelling/inflammation is occurring; heat is best used for muscle pain and stiffness.
- Avoid bouts of prolonged inactivity. Try not to sit or stand for more than 15-20 minutes without getting up and moving around!
- Check that posture!
If you’ve tried ice, heat, stretching, foam rolling and everything else on the list and you are still having lower back pain, maybe it’s time to be “GLA:D” you asked for some help!
- Written by Sarah Williamson, BSc.Kin, BSc.Psych, GLA:D Program Lead at Westbrook
This program is available at select locations. Call 403-455-0025 to book.