How did I hurt my back doing such a simple thing? - Thrive Now Physiotherapy

How did I hurt my back doing such a simple thing?

More often than not, my clients come in to the office complaining of lower back pain following a simple, innocent activity like bending over and sneezing, or stooping over to pick up a small object off the ground.   Doing dishes and vacuuming consistently rank the highest in terms of daily activities that cause lower back pain.   What do these activities have in common??   Why can people do sports and heavy activities with little or no problems, then cripple themselves doing next to nothing??

The answer lies in the simple mechanical nature of bending forward.  Imagine holding the bottom of a heavy bar with both hands, then tipping it slowly forward.   As the weight of the bar moves farther away from your hands, the amount of force required to hold up the bar increases.   These same mechanics apply to the muscles in your lower back each time you bend forward using your back.   In a person weighing 100lbs (roughly the weight of a young child), their torso and arms would weigh roughly 40lbs.   Think of the force required to hold up a 40lb bar tipped away from you—and most adults weigh considerably more than this!

Oddly enough, the body position we typically adopt for lifting heavy things—like a wheel barrow full of dirt–  is usually one where we bend the knees, and keep the back straight and head up.    This posture helps in protecting the spine by loading the force through it in a vertical fashion.     When we switch to lighter tasks, most individuals don’t automatically bend their knees and maintain an upright posture— we bend forward and reach away from our body!!  Over time, this repetitive motion can lead to weakening of the supporting structures in the lower back, namely the discs, muscles, tendons, and ligaments.  At some stage of weakening (usually at the most in-opportune time!), some of these tissues can fail, resulting in pain, muscle spasm, and potentially, if certain nerves are involved, sciatica!

Does this sound like something that has happened to you?   Or to someone you know and care about?   Quite often, it is easy to diagnosis and settle the tissues at fault in lower back pain.  The physiotherapists at South Cowichan Physiotherapy and Sports Rehabilitation are all fully certified and ready to assess your lower back pain.  Quit suffering needlessly, and call the office today for an assessment!

In my next blog, I’ll be talking about creative tips to protect your back, and prevent unnecessary injuries!!  (or, “How to Mow Your Carpet”)

Written by:



Co-Owner of South Cowichan Physiotherapy


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