Have you been told your back is the ‘stiffest I’ve ever seen’ or you’ve ‘got the back of an 80-year old’??

We have an important message for you: aside from this language making you feel terrible about what shape you’re in, it’s also simply not true!

We’ve all been there. You were putting on a sock or picking up a pen off the ground and bang! Sharp pain across your lower back that stops you in your tracks.

If this has happened to you more than once, you’ve probably thought to yourself – of course this would happen again, I’ve got a ‘BAD BACK’.

Let’s look at what this might mean.

Firstly, research shows that up to 90% of people will experience back pain at some point in their lifetime (ABS, 2018).Furthermore, about 4 million Australians have ‘back problems’.

The Spine is a scary word.

Not too long ago, health professionals told people with back pain to rest in bed until they no longer had pain, as we needed to protect the delicate spine.

These days, we know better. Your spine is strong! As in, it would take a car crashing into a wall at 48km/h kind-of-force to break it.

What most often happens is that the strength of muscles around the spine and hips, isn’t so strong, so the joints of the spine need to take more of the load. Therefore, the joints get very unhappy.

Once the joints are irritated and painful, this pain can act like an off switch for the muscles around the back and pelvis, making the joints work even harder. And thus, the cycle of pain goes on and on.

The good news is, by getting the surrounding muscles moving, even if it’s a little painful at first, you can reduce the load on the joints and get yourself back on your feet and out of pain sooner!

Remember the old adage, ‘use it or lose it’? It’s certainly true for functional back pain.

When should I be worried about my back pain?

If you have any of the following:

  • Increased pain at night
  • Pins and needles, numbness or tingling in your arms or legs.
  • Feelings of weakness
  • Changes in thinking processes or forgetfulness
  • Back pain only with your menstrual period

Then you should see a good GP or physiotherapist ASAP.


Do I need an MRI for my back pain?

Most of the time no. In rare cases with specific symptoms, we will recommend an MRI. However, the cutting edge research tells us that in most cases, MRI’s are a completely unnecessary cost. They can even increase your fear around your back pain – most people’s MRI’s have a few ‘grey hairs’ or signs of ageing, even if their pain has nothing to do with it.

This can make you think you do indeed have a ‘bad back’, when really, everything is normal!


So you’re saying I don’t have a bad back?

Even if you’ve had the same back pain 10 times, you most likely don’t have a ‘bad back’. What may be happening instead is that no one has ever look at the cause of your pain (and fixed it!) and so you are prone to the same event happening repeatedly.

A physiotherapist can help to find the cause of why this happens. They will also clarify if anything more sinister is happening. Then, they will be able to get you moving with confidence ASAP. Finally, a good physiotherapist will teach you strategies so that if it ever happens again, you know exactly what to do to get yourself out of pain.


The bottom line is: It can hurt like crazy, even though it’s not leaving permanent damage.

What’s the worst thing someone has said about your back? Tell us below!

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