It’s alarming how quickly one’s health can deteriorate. I recently spent time supporting a loved one while they received treatment for complications after a heart attack. What was truly alarming was how quickly his energy and strength deteriorated as he was limited to a hospital bed for a week. As the Occupational Therapist stated during an evaluation, "the absolute worst thing that had effected his health during the past week was lying in bed". The therapist said this while encouraging him to sit in a chair as much as possible each day, or to try to walk a bit as soon as he was able. Then, once he was discharged to be an active participant in his rehabilitation.
While clearly part of the weakness was attributable to the heart attack and subsequent complications, he had in fact been growing steadily growing stronger in the week prior to his hospital re-admission. He also started to make substantial progress again once he left the hospital and started rehab, which required movement and activity as key components of his recovery.
There are numerous sayings regarding movement’s impact on health (though I’ll just list a few):
Sitting is the new smoking
A body at rest stays at rest, while a body in motion stays in motion
Movement is the behavior and the solution to health and wellness
Movement is medicine (heck, Hippocrates said this basic concept about 2,000 years ago)
In fact, it would seem that this concept is so self-evident and such a basic truth that it would be clear to everyone. Yet all too often it is ignored. Not only by people that allow pain to limit their activity, or by people who (at least seem to) take the easy road of inactivity, but even by medical professionals who are looking for more elegant or sophisticated (and expensive) solutions and treatments.
Today there is NO DOUBT that movement is medicine. Your body was built to be self-restorative and researchers have demonstrated that the actual movement of your body creates the fluid (proteoglycan 4) that helps lubricate and maintain your joints. Studies have shown that joints in movement create up to three times more of this “lubricant” than immobile joints.
So when it comes to treatments for back pain, look for solutions that are going to safely help you get back to your activities as soon as possible. But you absolutely have to be an active participant in your recovery!