Dr Mark Hancock, Professor of Physiotherapy, and Tash Pocovi, PhD candidate, Macquarie University
If your low back is playing up during lockdown, you’re not alone. Low back pain is a common condition experienced by 80 per cent of people at least once in their lifetime. While most episodes settle relatively quickly, approximately 70 per cent of people will experience a recurrence over the next 12 months.  Exercise is a common way that people manage low back pain, and research shows that popular forms of exercise such as pilates and yoga can be effective in managing and preventing low back pain. But with COVID-19 restrictions and subsequent lockdowns, what can one do when gyms, pools and studios are shut for the foreseeable future?
Here are some tips to help keep your back healthy and prevent low back pain during this time:
1. Change positions often

Think about what postures you spend most of your day in, and what movements make your low back pain better or worse. If like most people you have a desk job and sit for long periods of time, make a plan to stand, stretch and have a quick walk regularly throughout the day. Some people find using an alarm that goes off every hour or two helps them to remember to change positions when they are focused on work or house duties.

2. Make exercise a part of your daily routine

Make an “appointment” with yourself to exercise daily: even consider blocking off time in your diary to ensure you make time for you physical and mental wellbeing. For example, you could set 10 to 10.30am as your time to go for a walk.

Researchers at Macquarie University are studying whether an individualised walking and education program may assist Australians with preventing low back pain (for more information visit the WalkBack HYPERLINK “https://www.walkbacktrial.com/” Trial website).

3. Buddy up

Exercising can be more fun when you have company! Get accountable and ask your partner or family member to be your exercise buddy and you can do it together. If you live alone or cannot leave home due to social distancing restrictions, think creatively, perhaps exercise together over video conferencing platforms such as FaceTime or Zoom.

4. Get help if pain does not improve

Most back pain settles well and can be self-managed using simple strategies like those mentioned above. However, if you have ongoing pain, it’s helpful to seek care from a physiotherapist. Our physiotherapist, Hayley, has a special interest in managing low back pain.

Give our clinic a call on (07) 5578 7155 to see Hayley.


References – Hartvigsen, J., M. Hancock, A. Kongsted, et al., What low back pain is and why we need to pay attention. The Lancet, 2018.O’Sullivan, P.B., J. Caneiro, K. O’Sullivan, et al., Back to basics: 10 facts every person should know about back pain. 2020, BMJ Publishing Group Ltd and British Association of Sport and Exercise Medicine.