Think back pain is only the result of doing too much? A new study by researchers at the University of Queensland indicates that lack of activity could also be the cause of an aching back.
The researchers came to their conclusion after studying 19 young male volunteers who each spent eight weeks in bed, noting that the resulting impact of all of that downtime on the volunteers’ back support muscles, particularly those that hold the vertebrae or pelvis in place, resembled patients with low back injuries. Specifically, researchers found that inactivity caused the support muscles to turn off, and that subsequent exercise didn’t immediately fix the problem.
According to an article in New Scientist, only 10 to 15 percent of back pain begins with an injury from lifting or whiplash. For other back pain, says the article, the “cause is often a mystery.”
“This is the first study to show that these muscles that protect your spine are switched off [from inactivity],” researcher Julie Hides told New Scientist, speculating that the same effect might also be seen in people who watched a lot of television or spent too much time slumping in front of a computer. Hides and other researchers also found that regardless of exercise, for some of the volunteers, six months after their volunteer bed-rest ended, their muscles still hadn’t recovered.
It is estimated that 80 percent of all people will experience back pain at some point in their lives. Ergonomics, however, can help manage back pain by making activities, both at work and at home, more accommodating for people with back pain or without while also lessening the risk of injury or reinjury.
Source: New Scientist