In the UK, 2.5 million people have back pain every day of the year and 80% of us will experience back pain at some point in our lives. Whilst it is no surprise that manual workers can experience work related back pain, with more stress levels and less time to look after our bodies than ever before, desk workers are increasingly suffering too, primarily caused by the ‘slump desk’ culture.
Contrary to popular belief back pain is just as prevalent amongst younger age groups as the elderly and according to statistics it is the second most common causes of sick days in the western world.
Causes of Back Pain
There is a myriad of causes for back pain, from the serious hereditary spinal problems or injury to the more common, poor posture, faulty body mechanics, stressful living, poor diet and a sedentary lifestyle. It may start following a specific incident or injury, such as bending awkwardly or lifting a heavy weight but can develop over time, exacerbated by poor posture or an uncomfortable desk position, lack of movement or repetitive strain. These conditions make up the majority of cases, with serous ailments like herniated disk or Spinal Stenosis being less frequent.
With 82% of us spending six hours or more a day sitting in front of a computer screen (British Chiropractic Association) combined with longer working hours, higher stress levels and less time to look after our bodies than ever before, back pain is occurring on an unprecedented scale. Whilst taking the occasional dose of painkillers is unlikely to harm you, even over-the-counter painkillers can have some unpleasant lasting effects and won’t solve the problem long-term.
Over the past few years there has been considerable research and investment into alternative therapies to step into the gap between burgeoning back pain and reliance on painkillers as a solution to get us back into shape.
As an experienced sports therapist and personal trainer specialising in movement and corrective exercise, Fraser Smythe (fraserpt.com) spends a large proportion of his time seeing clients with back problems or musculoskeletal issues (MSK), to use the correct medical terminology. He has been involved in competitive sport from the age of 8 and during his career as an athlete has represented both England and Great Britain. He has an international client base and is consistently training and furthering his knowledge of back and MSK issues.
Whereas the most obvious path with back pain is often to use painkillers or injections to mask the problem, his approach is a combination of Myofascial Release Treatment and Strength to eliminate pain and restore functionality.
Myofascial Release Treatment (MFR)
MFR is a safe and very effective hands-on technique that involves applying sustained pressure into the Myofascial Tissues. Rather than target individual muscles, Myofascial Release works more as an overall release promoting joint mobility and freeing up those restricted muscles in the treatment area. It is a one-on-one, hour-long treatment where each patient is assessed on a uniquely individual basis and the treatment is performed directly on skin without oils, creams or machinery. This enables the therapist to accurately detect problems and to apply the appropriate amount of sustained pressure to facilitate release in the problematic area. It is not a painful treatment, but the patient can feel a slight level of discomfort as the pressure is applied, similar to that of a slow deep tissue massage.
Types of Pain
The Myofascial System is a whole-body system and when using MFR with other standard sports massage techniques, this can aid various types of pain
- Lower back pain
- Neck pain
- Sciatic pain
- Tight and painful hips
- Thoracic spine pain
- Frozen shoulder
These conditions are hard to detect as many will not show up on the standard methods employed including X-Rays, MIR’s, CAT Scans and blood tests. Back problems and related issues can go ignored or be misdiagnosed for a long period of time, which for those suffering the agony is extremely depressing and debilitating. Furthermore, recent research has suggested that the longer an individual is disabled by back pain, the less chance he or she has of returning to work.
Follow On Treatment
MFR can work as a joint release treatment, but Fraser stresses the importance of building strength, flexibility and exercise into one’s daily routine as a preventive measure. In the UK, back problems are the leading cause of disability with nearly 119 million sick days a year lost, and there is a further staggering amount of cases where people simply work through these issues. Prioritising opportunities to build movement and exercise into our lifestyle is vital to stay healthy.
A Three-Step Plan to Managing Back Pain
If you’re struggling with back pain Fraser PT is running a Three-Step Plan to help clients manage their pain and get back to being mobile and pain free.
The plan consists of three elements:
2 hours of Myofascial Release & Physical Therapy Treatment
2 hours of Gym Mobility & Movement Training
2 hours of Gym Based, Strength & Corrective Exercise Training
Package Cost: £570,
Individual Treatment Cost: £100
Location: New Cavendish Street, London W1 (Just off Harley Street)
To find out more about how Fraser PT can help you with on-going back pains or other physical pains that might be causing problems, do get in contact for an informal, no-obligation, chat. Fraser PT can also help with sports injuries and, topical at this time of year, skiing injuries. He works with a network of medical professionals and will refer you if he feels that further investigations are necessary for a correct treatment plan.
Fraser can be reached on 07962883000, firstname.lastname@example.org or fraserpt.com
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