Low Back Pain I

Why Ignoring Your Low Back Pain Can Sabotage your New Years Goals

Dr. Amanda Hoffman, PT, DPT

Posted 01.17.2024

Now that the Holiday’s are behind us – many people start to shift their focus to New Year resolutions.

The 3 most common New Year goals are:

1. Fitness and Health
Many people set resolutions to improve their physical well-being, whether it's through regular exercise, healthier eating habits, or weight management.
2. Saving Money
Goals related to finances. This could be overall spending less, saving money to purchase a home or saving money for your kids college fund. Sticking to a stricter budget may be one of your goals.
3. Wellness and Mindfulness
Increasing focus on mental health and overall well-being is a common resolution. This may involve practicing mindfulness, managing stress, and finding a better work-life balance.

Would you be surprised to know that if you are currently suffering from back pain – and you continue to ignore it – it could significantly impact your chances of success at achieving any of these goals?

1. Improving Fitness and Loosing Weight
Most people think that if they start exercising more – especially their core – it will solve their back problems. Not necessarily.

While research studies show (overwhelmingly) that exercise is one of the best treatments for back pain – what they don’t reveal is that there are typically some key things that must be in place in order for exercise to be effective.

For example, you must have good mobility and flexibility before you start focusing on strength. If you’ve got a stiff back, general exercise could be all you need, and you’ll notice improvement. But you won’t know until you get going and by then it could be too late.

What if your back is stiff because it’s compensating for something – say a bulging disc or muscle weakness? If that’s the case, and you go all in with an exercise program in January, it’s only a matter of time (usually about 3 months) before your back becomes worse, forcing you to abort your grand plan for the new year. When stability is there for a compensatory reason, it’s important to figure that out before adding more exercise or strengthening to the mix. This is one way back pain could derail your New Year’s resolution of doing more exercise and improving your fitness.

If you’ve got back pain, losing weight will surely help. But once again, it’s critical to understand why you’ve got back pain in the first place.

For example, being overweight is rarely the cause of back pain. A few extra pounds can certainly exacerbate your back problem, but its usually not the cause of the back pain all on it’s own. The most common causes of back pain are movement based problems.

If you lose weight, but never correct these movement problems, your back pain isn’t going to improve. When it comes to the process of losing weight, in addition to watching your diet, more exercise is often incorporated into a weight loss plan. If you’ve got back pain, it’s more than likely due to poor movement habits. More exercise will not address these, and worse, could exacerbate the problem. If your back pain increases, not only will you not want to exercise, but you could be more inclined to sit at home and eat more – completely derailing your New Year’s resolution of losing weight..

2. Saving Money

What could low back pain have to do with this?

Well, you’ve probably heard the saying: “If you think wellness is expensive, try illness”. This couldn’t be more true. When you ignore back pain, it’s only going to get more expensive to address later. As back pain worsens, you’ll have less willpower to bear it, and you’ll be more likely to opt for expensive fixes such as outpatient procedures and surgery. Not to mention the rehab that needs to take place afterwards for an optimal recovery and the expensive tests that need to take place before-hand to ensure you’re ready for surgery.

When you ignore a back problem it’s only a matter of time before it becomes unbearable. And when we’re desperate, we make poor decisions, which often leads to more money spent than necessary. All that money (and more) that you set out to save as part of your New Year’s goals eventually goes to waste. Instead, get in front of your back pain.

3. Improved Work Life Balance:

Back pain can affect your work and home life much more than you think. Persistent low back pain can lead to decreased concentration and productivity at work. The discomfort and distraction may make it challenging to focus on tasks, leading to a decrease in overall work output.

Severe low back pain may necessitate taking days off from work for rest and recovery or for doctors appointments. This absence can disrupt the regular work routine, impacting deadlines and team collaboration.

Individuals experiencing low back pain may find it difficult to move comfortably. This limitation in mobility can affect their ability to perform certain job and home duties. Not being able to crawl around or bend over to kiss your child goodnight is not a situation you want to be in.

Chronic pain can take a toll on mental health. The stress and emotional strain associated with low back pain may contribute to mood changes, anxiety, or depression, further affecting one's overall well-being, work-life balance, and relationships with loved ones.

Beyond the workplace, low back pain can interfere with personal life activities. Simple daily tasks, such as household chores or spending quality time with family, may become challenging, leading to a strain on personal relationships.

For 80% of back pain cases, there is a natural,
musculoskeletal-based solution.

Natural solutions are much less expensive – and much safer long term compared to something like surgery, where there can be complications and risk of infection. While the impact of ignoring back pain may seem indirect when it comes to a New Year’s resolution of saving money, it will impact you in some way, at some point,
in a monetary way if you don’t address it now.

When you’ve got back pain (or any pain for that matter) that isn’t going away, it’s your body trying to tell you something. Don’t ignore it. It’s only a matter of time before it gets worse and starts to derail more than just your New Year’s goals.

If you want to stop ignoring your back pain and you’re ready for some help – talk to one of our doctors of physical therapy. They’ll let you know if we can help – and if you’re a good fit for what we do.

Through this partnership, physical therapy and strength & conditioning are merging into a powerful force, shaping the future of sports medicine for the better.

Meet the Author

Dr. Amanda Hoffman, PT, DPT is dedicated to the wellness of each and every person who walks through the door. With her knowledge, she helps health conscious individuals live their most active and fit life without the need for pills, injections or surgery. When Dr. Hoffman isn't using her magic touch to keep people as active and healthy as they can, she's attending classes and conferences to implement the most innovative practices and technologies to address her patients' needs.

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