Do you really need the physio?

Lower Back Pain

I want to preface this by saying in no way shape or form am I knocking physio’s here; I believe physiotherapy is crucial in many cases for the management of both acute and chronic injuries, and at Kinetic we refer numerous clients to trusted physio’s (and myotherapists) at a local clinic.

However, physiotherapy alone in many cases, will not solve whatever problem it is you are experiencing. I am seeing and hearing about more and more cases where people with chronic injuries (lower back issues primarily) are going to the physio every week, or fortnight, and wondering why their back issue never goes away.

There is always a symptom of the issue, and there is always a cause of the issue.

While yes, releasing or working on the musculature that has become a site for pain (the symptom), will certainly provide some relief short term, what about the mobility/joint restriction that is the underlying cause of the pain?

If this is not addressed, the symptom of the pain will never go away.

The thing that most people don’t understand (through absolutely no fault of their own; not everyone has chosen a career in matters pertaining to the anatomy of the human body) is that say, for example, the Quadratus Lumborum (QL) muscle (a common site of lower back pain) does not just flare up and become a site for pain of its own accord. It is placed under undue stress and tension as a result of surrounding muscles, or joints for that matter, not firing or doing their job properly. In almost every case, an underlying strength imbalance somewhere down or up the chain has caused a particular muscle to become chronically tight/overloaded and create a site for pain (the symptom).

It is the symptom that, primarily, the physiotherapist will treat.

Again, please do not take this as me having a go at physio’s because this is absolutely not what this is; I am merely saying that for most people, they should be undertaking a properly implemented strength program in conjunction with physio/myo visits in the early stages of improving a chronic injury like a lower back issues.

Let’s take someone, let’s call her Jo:

-Jo presents at the physio with a sore lower back

-Physio will treat the lower back, and Jo will feel relief for a few days/weeks

-The pain will return again, as the underlying cause of it (strength/mobility imbalance/deficiency) has not been fixed; Jo will go back to the physio

-This cycle will repeat itself leaving Jo frustrated, in constant pain, unable to live her life to it’s fullest.

Also, aside from never getting out of that chronic pain loop; the regular physio bills add up and place an added, unwanted strain now on Jo’s financial health, potentially mental health.

So her physical, financial and mental health all are suffering.

Now let me provide an alternate scenario, with Jeff:

-Jeff presents at the physio with a sore lower back

-The physio treats Jeff’s lower back, and recommends a strength/mobility program be undertaken

-Jeff listens to this advice, and begins strength/mobility program with an S&C coach who works in conjunction with the physio (keeping in touch via email/phone)

-After a few weeks, the physio contacts the coach and says he/she is happy with Jeff’s progress, and does not need to see him again.

-Jeff now gets a new lease on life, pain free, with the money he has saved on physio visits instead being spent on a strength and conditioning program, which improves many other aspects of his health and well being.

I hope those two scenarios can clearly demonstrate the difference a S&C program can make. And this is not just some fanciful scenario I have conjured up in my head; this is actually based off a real-life example of one of my clients who was suffering with lower back pain for YEARS.

If you ask a majority of physio’s/myo’s, they will all say that they do not enjoy seeing the same people over and over again in a constant state of pain; they actually would prefer to see their patients improve their quality of life.

Let’s start shifting the view of people from being reactive to a situation, to a more proactive approach to their health, and while we’re at it; let’s get a more holistic approach going amongst the allied health professionals and S&C coaches.

At the end of the day, we’re all in this business to help people. So please, if you are a Jo, do not resign yourself to living a life with a revolving door of chronic pain and physio visits. Please know that there is a different course of action you can take, like Jeff did, and we at Studio Kinetic are more than happy to help.