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Back Pain and Exercise  

Back pain is a common problem and one of the key factors in management is an individualised specific exercise program.

Back pain can arise from conditions related to the bones, joints, connective tissue, muscles, and nerves of the back. This can affect the neck, upper-mid back, lower back as well as the sacrum and coccyx.


  • The Australian Bureau of Statistics estimates that 4 million Australians (16% of the population) have back problems. Approximately 70–90% of people will experience lower back pain at some point in their lives.
  • Back problems increase with age.
  • Most people with low back pain recover, however recurrence is common and therefore these problems may need to be managed long term.
  • Back problems can lead to poorer quality of life, reduction in activity, psychological distress, pain, illness, and disability.

Types of back pain

Back pain can be acute – lasting a few days to weeks, or chronic – continuing for 12 weeks or more. It can also be classified as:

  1. Specific (10%) – having a specific pathology ie, disc prolapse, fracture.
  2. Non-specific (90%) – not recognisable to a known pathology.
  3. Or of Systemic pathology (1-2%) – diseases relating to organs/systems e.g.Malignancies.

back pain

What causes back pain?

  • Different postures, injuries, loading in certain positions.
  • Conditions like osteoarthritis, disc disease, osteoporosis, and some genetic conditions.
  • Certain factors may increase the risk of developing back pain, such as:
    • Age, fitness, smoking, increased weight, and type of career.
    • Psychosocial factors – negative beliefs, fear of pain, stress, anxiety.
    • Neurophysiological factors – changes in the nervous system.

What to do next… how can exercise help?

Exercise can:

  • Reduce risk factors for developing pain.
    • Improve psychosocial and neurophysiological factors.
    • Increase physical activity.
    • Reduce bodyweight.
    • Prepares the body for different styles of loading.
  • Strengthen surrounding musculature – reduce load on the spine.
  • Reduce recurrence of back pain.
  • Reduce disability and pain.
  • Improve self-management of condition.

We can help at Total Physiotherapy

Our Accredited Exercise Physiologist, Emily House, is running a “BackFit Program”. This is a 12-week education and exercise program for individuals with back pain. This program includes tailored resistance and mobility exercises to progress the participant on to independent management of their condition. By improving strength and mobility, participants gain confidence exercising and living active lifestyles, symptom progression is prevented, there is a reduction in pain and flare ups, and an increase in overall physical capacity.

Call us today on 02 9907 0321 to find out more information or to speak with Emily.

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