Believe in your Back

My dad has been a chair maker for 45 years, he makes traditional Windsor chairs by hand, from scratch. As you can imagine this is a physically demanding job that requires great skill. Consequently, over the years, his body has adapted to the physical demands placed on it. By the standards of most physical therapists his posture is pretty awful, he has rounded shoulders and a bit of a stoop with fairly severe forward head carriage. He has also never had any back pain. Okay, actually that’s a lie; my dad has a steadfast, unwavering belief that his body can do pretty much whatever he asks of it but one day a few years ago he did wake up with back pain and it was quite bad. He suffered with it for a few days and he worried about it as he was faced with his own potential frailty. Eventually he was persuaded to see his GP (this was a while before I became a chiropractor).

Boat rigging as strong as your backMy dad’s GP did something that was quite radical back then, in fact it would be radical for a GP to do now. He gave my dad a full-on lecture pointing out the many and varied ways in which his back was really incredibly strong – it is a complex structure of vertebra separated by shock absorbers, held together with a complete covering of ligamentous connective tissue followed by layer upon layer of muscles which are tiny on the inside but get ever bigger with each layer until an outer layer that is made up of muscles the size of your biceps. These muscles both allow and prevent movement through a complicated, robust set up of levers and pullies. The GP pointed out quite how strong ligaments, tendons and muscles really are (my dad subsequently described them as “straps, pullies and ropes” of the type that boat rigging is made up of) he told my dad that the pain he was experiencing was most likely due his own amazing immune system mounting a healing defence on some minor sprain and sent him home with paracetamol and advice to keep moving. As pain is a great inhibitor and that will stop him from overdoing it during the healing process.

The next day my dad went back to work and hasn’t had any back pain since – well he probably does have the odd ache and pain, we all do from time to time, but nothing that has ever caused him concern. He was 70 this year and still making traditional, handmade Windsor chairs.

The origins of back pain are varied and complex and it would not be safe for anyone to diagnose you without a full history and examination. However there are some basic pieces of advice for self-help for back pain management that research has shown holds true for most people.

  • Movement and sport are helpful.
  • Having a positive attitude about the structure and function of your spine is helpful – your back really is robust and strong and should be trusted.
  • Developing normal functional movements is a far more effective rehabilitation objective than increasing strength and learning to ‘brace’ before movement.

Chiropractic treatment is all about restoring the body to normal, healthy movement patterns. We do this by assessing the body through observation and palpation as well as a few choice orthopaedic and muscle tests. When we have identified the dysfuntion we aim to put in place a treatment plan that is appropriate for the individual in front of us, with their agreement. Treatment always includes advice and reassurance, normally includes manual therapy of some type and should include exercises designed to help you to feel confident in normal movement patterns. Here at Cathedral Chiropractic we are fully qualified to take detailed case history, perform a comprehensive physical examination and formulate a diagnosis and treatment plan. That treatment plan is always aimed towards returning your body to being able to move normally. We believe in functional rehabilitation – the type that helps you to move normally, this can be achieved on your own but is normally better when done with others such as with Soma therapy, Yoga and Pilates.

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