Back Pain and Physical Activity

Physical Therapy
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From Physical Therapy at Synergy Fitness for Her

Don’t Let Back Pain Derail Your Commitment to Exercise
Within weeks of belting out the final stanza of “Auld Lang Syne,” a large segment of those resolving to exercise more in the New Year will be on the sidelines. The cause? A variety of injuries and conditions ranging from stress fractures and twisted ankles to the biggest culprit of all, low back pain.
A Global Burden of Disease, Injuries, and Risk Factors study recently cited low back pain as the single leading cause of disability worldwide. Estimates indicate that 80% of us contend with the common
ailment at some point in our lives. The intense and debilitating pain that accompanies low back injuries
often prevents sufferers from going to work, participating in household chores and enjoying time with
loved ones.

Low back pain doesn’t have to be a prescription for couch surfing. Current studies show no evidence that supervised physical activity increases the risk of additional back problems or work disability. Counter to the age-old recommendation of inactivity, a customized exercise program under the direction of a physical therapist is widely prescribed to reduce pain and disability.

“In my practice I see clients with recent back injuries as well as clients who have been held back from doing the things they enjoy for years due to back problems”, stated Birgit Reher, physical therapist at Synergy Fitness for Her in Durham NC. “While a recent back problem tends to get resolved more quickly and completely, it is very rewarding to see even longstanding issues improve with the right care.”

Although back pain can affect anyone, the major risk factors include age, poor physical fitness, genetics,
being overweight, and smoking. The National Institutes of Health suggests the following to prevent back
• Exercise frequently and keep your back muscles strong.
• Maintain a healthy weight.
• Eat a balanced diet, including daily recommendations for calcium and vitamin D.
• Focus on body mechanics by standing up straight and lifting heavy objects with bent legs and a
straight back.
According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, low back pain sufferers should prioritize a
supervised exercise program and a gradual return to everyday activities to restore back strength.
Following an evaluation, physical therapists can recommend specific exercises to prevent and treat back
pain, and provide additional treatment options to address pain and restore mobility.

About The Private Practice Section of the American Physical Therapy Association
Founded in 1956, the Private Practice Section of the American Physical Therapy Association champions
the success of physical therapist-owned businesses. Our members are leaders and innovators in the health care system. The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) represents more than 85,000 physical therapists, physical therapist assistants and students of physical therapy nationwide. For more
information, please visit

Birgit Reher PT, a physical therapist at Synergy Fitness for Her, is a member of both the APTA and the Private Practice Section