Common Myths of Low Back Pain and Evidence-Based Methods for Relief

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Greg Law

Common Myths of Low Back Pain and Evidence-Based Methods for Relief

Low back pain is a prevalent issue affecting millions worldwide, and misconceptions about its causes and treatments are widespread. This post will debunk common myths about low back pain and provide research-based methods for reducing it and improving core strength. If you’re in Scottsdale, Arizona, and seeking physical therapy for low back pain, this guide will be particularly useful.

Myth 1: Bed Rest is Best for Low Back Pain


Contrary to popular belief, prolonged bed rest can exacerbate low back pain rather than alleviate it. Studies have shown that staying active, within comfortable limits, can help reduce pain and improve function more effectively than bed rest.

Research Insight:

A study published in the Lancet concluded that patients with low back pain who continued with their regular activities, as much as pain allowed, experienced better recovery outcomes compared to those who rested in bed.

Myth 2: Low Back Pain is Always Due to a Serious Condition


 While serious conditions like fractures, infections, or cancer can cause low back pain, they are relatively rare. Most cases of low back pain are due to muscle strain, ligament sprains, or other benign causes.

Research Insight:

According to the American Family Physician, less than 5% of people with low back pain have a serious underlying condition. For the majority, conservative treatments such as physical therapy are effective.

Myth 3: Exercise Worsens Low Back Pain


Many people fear that exercise will worsen their low back pain, but appropriate physical activity is beneficial. Strengthening and stretching exercises can improve flexibility, stability, and strength, reducing pain and preventing future episodes.

Research Insight:

The Annals of Internal Medicine published a study indicating that exercise therapy is effective in preventing recurrences of low back pain. It also helps in improving function and reducing chronic pain.

Myth 4: Low Back Pain Requires Surgery


Surgery is often seen as a necessary solution for low back pain, but it is usually a last resort. Most low back pain can be managed effectively with non-surgical treatments.

Research Insight:

The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) reports that non-surgical treatments, including physical therapy and medications, are effective for most people with low back pain. Surgery is only recommended for specific conditions that do not respond to conservative treatments.

Myth 5: The More Pain, the More Damage


The severity of pain is not always indicative of the extent of physical damage. Low back pain can be intense even if the underlying cause is minor.

Research Insight:

The British Medical Journal highlights that psychological factors, such as stress and anxiety, can amplify the perception of pain. This means that the intensity of pain doesn’t necessarily correlate with the severity of the physical condition.

Evidence-Based Methods for Reducing Low Back Pain:

Physical Therapy


Physical therapy is a cornerstone in the management of low back pain. Therapists design individualized programs that include stretching, strengthening, and aerobic exercises.

Research Insight:

A study in the Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy found that physical therapy significantly reduces pain and improves function in patients with chronic low back pain. Techniques such as manual therapy, exercise, and patient education are integral components.

Aerobic Exercise


Low-impact aerobic exercises, such as walking, swimming, or cycling, increase blood flow to the spine, promoting healing and reducing stiffness.

Research Insight:

A study from the *Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews* suggests that aerobic exercise is beneficial for chronic low back pain, improving both pain and functional outcomes.

Mind-Body Techniques


Techniques like yoga, tai chi, and mindfulness meditation help in managing stress and improving flexibility and balance, which can alleviate low back pain.

Research Insight:

The Journal of Pain Research published findings showing that yoga and mindfulness-based stress reduction significantly reduce chronic low back pain and improve quality of life.

Core Strengthening


Strengthening the core muscles, including the abdominals, back, and pelvic muscles, can provide better support for the spine, reducing the risk of injury and pain.

Exercises We Like!

Neutral Spine Core Progression

This progression is a great way to start building core endurance and challenge you based on where you are that day. Pain may cause you to step back in the progression but that is why it is a progression and is a fluid system.  Try setting a timer and going for endurance starting at 30 seconds and building up to at least 60 seconds.

Push Cross Pull Push

This is a great core facilitation exercise and allows for an isometric (no movement occurring) to help facilitate deep core stabilization.  Again, we want to go for endurance so challenge yourself to build up the hold to 60 seconds.

Pallof Progression

I love progressions because it allows for flexibility based on symptoms and other variables throughout the rehab process.  This is a challenge rotation and stability and is a safe way to start building some rotatory stability in a neutral spinal position.  Build up with resistance and build from 2 sets of 8 up to 3 sets of 12.

Front Plank

A classic core endurance exercise. Start with 10 reps holding for 10 seconds and build up your hold time while reducing the number of reps or rest in between reps.  If this is too challenging, you can do them from your knees.

Side Planks

A great way to challenge the frontal plane (your sides) and necessary for stability. I  don’t have a research study on hand to prove this, however, clinically I find a lot of people with low back pain have weakness or poor endurance in the frontal plane and challenge a lot of my clients to build endurance here.  Start with 10 for 10 seconds and build up the endurance from here.  You can start this from your knees if needed.


Understanding the myths and truths about low back pain is crucial for effective management and prevention. Incorporating evidence-based methods such as physical therapy, core strengthening, and aerobic exercises can significantly reduce pain and improve overall spine health. For residents of Scottsdale, Arizona, we here at Laws of Motion Physical Therapy are here to answer any questions you may have!

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