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5 More Hamilton Osteo Tips for Managing Back Pain: Progressive Overload


Tip 1: Understand Progressive Overload

Progressive overload is the gradual increase of stress placed upon the body during exercise training. This principle is fundamental in strength and conditioning programs and involves progressively increasing the intensity, duration, or frequency of exercise over time to stimulate adaptations in the body. In the context of managing back pain, it means gradually increasing the load and challenge on your back muscles and structures to improve their strength and resilience. This is a key technique we use at our Hamilton osteopath clinic to help manage patients with both acute and chronic low back pain and almost any other pain based complaint.

Example: Start with pain free exercises that are similar or part of or useful to an exercise or movement that is currently giving you pain. Our Hamilton osteopaths can help you here as it does take some nuance. As your strength and pain improves, gradually increase the difficulty by incorporating resistance with weights or increasing the time under tension or reps. An example might be doing partial squats to help someone wiht knee or back pain with squatting. Here we will adjust the range of motion, weight and reps to a pain free range and build the person back up to full squats. This would be complimented with full range movements that are similar to a squat but do not produce pain - like hip thrusts or lunges. The same logic can be adapted and applied to many things, such as lifting children, mowing the lawn or prolonged sitting.


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Tip 2: Start Slow and Progress Gradually

When dealing with back pain, it's crucial to start any exercise program slowly and gradually and some people need to be reminded that its OKAY to rest. Rushing into high-intensity workouts can exacerbate the pain and lead to further injury. Begin with low-intensity exercises and gradually increase the workload as your back becomes stronger and more resilient.

Example: Some people begin with gentle stretches and low-impact exercises like swimming or walking. As your pain decreases and your strength improves, slowly introduce more challenging exercises such as deadlifts or squats, our Hamilton osteopaths can guide you here. Not everyone needs to regress to these very low load activities, nor does everyone want to be swimming on squatting for that matter. We find out where you are at and meet you there - then we work towards getting you where you want to be.


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Tip 3: Listen to Your Body

While progressive overload is essential for improvement, it's equally important to listen to your body and recognize signs of overexertion or exacerbation of pain. Pushing through excessive discomfort can lead to setbacks and prolonged recovery periods. Pay attention to how your back responds to exercise and adjust the intensity accordingly. Again, it's OKAY to rest!

Example: If you experience increased pain during or after a particular exercise, scale back the intensity or volume. It's essential to find the right balance between pushing your limits and avoiding exacerbation of symptoms. There will be pain and there will be set backs. This is all part of the process.


Tip 4: Incorporate Variety

To prevent plateauing and ensure balanced strength development, incorporate a variety of exercises targeting different muscle groups in your back and core. This helps to distribute the load evenly and reduces the risk of overuse injuries. Additionally, varying your routine keeps workouts interesting and engaging.

Example: Rotate between exercises such as planks, rows, and hyperextensions to target different areas of the back and core. This variety not only prevents boredom but also ensures comprehensive strengthening of the muscles supporting the spine. Its also important that we find exercises you actually enjoy doing and ones that mean something to you - as these are the ones you are mostly likely to stick with!


Tip 5: Monitor Progress and Adjust Accordingly

Regularly assess your progress and adjust your training program accordingly. Keep track of key metrics such as strength gains, pain levels, and functional improvements. Gradually increase the intensity or volume of exercises as tolerated, but be prepared to scale back if necessary to prevent setbacks.

Example: Keep a workout journal to record your exercises, sets, reps, and any notes on pain or discomfort. Use this information to track your progress over time and make informed adjustments to your routine. If you notice persistent or increasing pain our Hamilton back pain experts will help correct your programming.


In summary

Progressive overload is a valuable principle for managing back pain by gradually increasing the challenge on your muscles and structures to promote strength and resilience. By starting slowly, listening to your body, incorporating variety, and monitoring progress, you can effectively utilize progressive overload to improve your back health and reduce pain.


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TLC osteopaths Hamilton Darryl Jenkins


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