Questions about Back Pain

by Michael Wood

Q: “What is the cause of chronic back pain?”

A: There are many causes of back pain, depending on which structure is injured. However, the strength of the deep stabilisers of the back always plays a very important role.

Without stability of the back, simple movements can re-aggravate your back, even with the original irritation settled for a long time. The fear of hurting your back again can also be a cause of pain by itself, as proven by recent research.

Please ask you physiotherapist about how you can improve or regain control of your movements and return to your normal pain free activities.

Q. “I heard you could hurt your back just by sneezing. Is that true?”

A: Back movements are controlled by a number of muscles, which can be split into two groups: an outer group consisting of large muscles (such as the larger abdominals, the Rectus and Obliques) and a deeper group consisting of smaller muscles, including the Transversus Abdominus or TA.

The larger muscles act mainly to move your back in a particular direction, whereas the deeper group provide the stability to the back, guarding against injury.

postural assessment by a physiotherapist postural assessment

If you have over developed superficial muscles, you can do usually do many heavy tasks with ease. For example, you can do many sit-ups and lift heavy weights.

However, if your deep stabilizing muscles are weak, you will lack the control you need for light and small tasks, such as lifting up a piece of paper or sneezing.

Many people injure their backs doing a seemingly trivial task, but with the correct advice and treatment, this can be helped and prevented in future.


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The above information is presented as a general guide. The author and publisher take no responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, action or application of medication based on this information. See more: Disclaimer.

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