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Yes you read it right- there is a (not so) new miracle cure for bad backs, prolapse, urinary incontinence and overactive pelvic floor muscles leading to dyspareunia…STOP DOING SIT-UPS.
This somewhat ‘tongue-in-cheek’ blog is in response to a post from one of my UK #pelvicmafia colleagues Fiona Mitchell on the Women’s Health page on Facebook.
“Enlightened whilst listening to Dr Hilary on Steve Wright this afternoon (radio programme for non UK residents). His answer to chronic back pain was a few crunchies, back extensions (hands behind head) and something to work the ‘side’ muscles and it’ll all be gone in a few weeks! Chuck in a hot bath for good measure! Priceless!!!”
Much of what we read on the internet, (particularly Facebook and Twitter), most of what we see on TV on the morning shows or the evening ‘tabloid’ current affairs programmes and many of the radio sessions, rely on controversial headlines, short ‘grabs’ that hook the reader, viewer or listener into their latest brilliant, easy solution to our problems, aches and pains or life challenges. It’s got to be short (like our attention span these days), attention grabbing, insinuating one thing but meaning another and then it must be simple with little real input from the person needing help. In fact I’ve done it with this blog- A New Miracle Cure is a favourite of the internet advertisers and rather than fighting the trend- we pelvic floor physiotherapists (#pelvicmafia) need to embrace it.
So Fiona’s gripe about Dr H’s solution to chronic back pain is because those working with these patients now know that much of chronic back pain is about educating the patient about the multifaceted, psycho-social approach embraced in the understanding of central sensitization of pain described so clearly in a great book called ‘Explain Pain’ by David Butler and Lorimer Moseley. It involves moving when the patient may feel they need to lie and rest; about analyzing stressors in their lives; about breath awareness; maybe about a low dose old-fashioned anti-depressant which helps quieten the ‘noise’ from the problem area (back, neck, pelvic region) and about pacing their work and social lives to the gradual improvement that will eventually happen from this measured approach.
But no- the remedy suggested is a few quick sit ups etc and ‘Bob’s your uncle’- all will be fixed!
Well I’m here to suggest that I reckon it would be safer if you eliminated the sit-ups from your repertoire and not only would your back pain NOT be worse but you may save yourself from some pelvic floor issues if you are female. It’s a great source of work for me and many other pelvic floor physiotherapist – the boot camps, the rapid weight loss programmes that include 100 sit-ups a day, and some of the other PT sessions that have both legs and head and arms all up in the air at once.
So a caution to everyone. There are no miracle cures. But there is definitely a different way to manage chronic pain and ‘buyer beware’ if you buy Dr H’s remedy. What is important is to keep moving – but if you are a female make it ‘pelvic floor safe’. And seek out help from a physiotherapist who is chronic pain savvy and who will spend the time educating you, encouraging you and enlisting your support for a treatment strategy that is up-to-date and research based.
And to all my patients who have ‘followed’ my blog in order to be prompted to be doing all the strategies in their pelvic floor recovery programme……you know what you have to do 🙂
Just do it!