The American Physical Therapy Association describes Physical Therapists as “movement experts who improve quality of life through prescribed exercise, hands-on care, and patient education.” As physical therapists, with our patient’s help, we shape their goals around what improves their specific quality of life. Often, we picture athletes returning to sports or patients relearning how to walk. Less commonly, we think about the importance of injured workers returning to their jobs without limitations. It’s easy to understand why the rehabilitation process for return to sport is so intense and personalized for a patient. The rehabilitation process for return to work should be just as intense and personalized to assist the employee in reaching their goals.
Society has trained us that when we get an injury, or have an ache or pain, we should always choose either heat or ice to try and relieve the discomfort. One of the most common questions that physical therapists get is whether someone should use heat or ice to relieve back pain. The issue with both modalities is that they are passive, and one study found the depth of therapeutic levels of tissue temperature change is one cm. Most tissues that individuals are looking to target with their heat or ice are much deeper, so you are not effectively applying the modality to the depth you want. So, what is the best thing that we can do for our low back pain? Movement!
Regardless of the time of year each season brings certain risk factors for injuring your back. In the Spring and Summer many people get outside and become more active drastically increasing work or exercise intensity and frequency. In a past post I discussed how physical therapists can help your back pain but today I thought we could focus more on prevention. Below you will learn some common sense strategies, postures, and or body mechanics to help you minimize risk of back injury in the first place.