In 90% of cases, back pain in the context of low back pain heals in less than 4 to 6 weeks. But if the pain exceeds 12 weeks, the back pain becomes “chronic”. Even when this is the case, it is not and should not be inevitable. As Health Insurance explains, the cause of back pain is very often sedentary lifestyle, or lack of activity. The muscles relax, are not strong enough to play their role and lower back pain occurs. This is why it is recommended to maintain or quickly resume physical activity, becauseit is by maintaining his backand in strengthening the muscles and the flexibility of the ligaments that the patient is cured.
In addition to the practice of an adapted physical activity, the organization also recommends to practice regularly flexibility and stretching exercises. Here is a study, published in the Scandinavian Journal of Pain by a team from Laval University and McGill University, suggests that passive and prolonged stretching of the back would allow decrease sensitivity to pain. If these results are confirmed in patients with chronic back pain, this intervention could become a tool in the fight against lower back pain, also called “lumbago”. For the purposes of their study, the researchers recruited 22 patients without back pain.
“Higher tolerance in the lower back”
The participants underwent a test to measure their threshold of pain sensitivity at the level of the lower back muscles and forearm. “Using an algometer, we gradually increase the pressure exerted on the muscle until the pain threshold is reached”, attests the head of the study, Professor Hugo Massé-Alarie. Subsequently, the subjects performed a back muscle stretching session. For three minutes, they had to lie in a supine position with their legs folded over their chest. A foam roller placed under the sacrum and a strap around their thighs ensured the maintenance of the position, minimizing muscle contractions.
“In general, after 30 seconds, the stretching does not provide any additional benefit for muscle flexibility. On the other hand, as we are interestedat sensitivity to pain, we used a period long enough to create discomfort in the subjects, ”adds the researcher. The scientists then retested the participants with the algometer. Results? The back stretches significantly increased the threshold of pain sensitivity. According to Prof. Massé-Alarie, “this higher tolerance was noted in the lower back but also in the forearm. The effect appears to be systemic, as if the stretching caused a reaction in the central nervous system ”.
Assistance in the practice of rehabilitation exercises
The researchers want to be cautious, stating that the clinical repercussions of these results need to be clarified, in particular because it should not be forgotten that pain caused is different from spontaneous pain. But the latter wish to confirm the effectiveness of stretching to raise the threshold of pain tolerance by appealing to people with back pain. If successful, this practice could be used for two purposes. “Stretching could help patients manage their pain in the short term. In addition, as their tolerance to pain would be greater, they would be less afraid of doing the rehabilitation exercises recommended, ”concludes Professor Massé-Alarie.
It should be noted that while the gradual and regular practice of exercise over time promotes recovery and prevents relapses, fear of pain and afraid to move ron the contrary, the cure is delayed. Health insurance has therefore developed the Activ’Dos application one of the functions of which is to discover relaxation, stretching and bodybuilding exercises to be performed at work, or at home, but also good everyday gestures: carrying a bag, cleaning or cooking, stand up … The latter has also made available a booklet that gives some positions that allow you to mobilize the back and which can be practiced without special equipment.