Could chronic stress be making your back pain worse?

Lots of clients have been recommended Pilates or yoga to help with chronic back pain. For a lot of people, getting moving is key to their recovery and I have lots of clients who have felt the benefits of improving their strength or mobility.

Sometimes it’s not as simple as that though. Most of us have heard these days of the negative effects of too much (or out of balance) cortisol, the stress hormone that creates a ‘fight or flight’ response. Once out of kilter, there are many things that can exacerbate the situation:
1. Sleep hygiene – check out the next blog in the series for more on this. In a nutshell though, if our sleep is compromised and we are consistently a little bit unrested, our endocrine (hormonal) system is more likely to perceive stress
2. Inefficient breathing. I have written a lengthy blog on my website regarding this, if you are interested in a more in depth explanation check it out here: Breath Blog. For now though, try doing a BOLT (Body Oxygen Level Test) which is a simple test to see what your current breath efficiency is like. It is not an endurance test but rather a gauge to see what your current resistance is – the ideal being around 40 seconds although many people are below 10.
Take a normal soft exhalation and suspend the breath until you feel a hunger for air, counting how many seconds you can comfortably hold for. When you take a breath you should be able to breathe normally through the nose, if you gasp for air through the mouth you’ve held it for too long.
3. Movement nutrition. I will be following up in the series with more specifics on how to move more of you as well as just moving more, but making sure that you move all of your joints in their full range of motion helps lymphatic drainage. We have lymph nodes near our joints because we’re meant to move, and mechanical stress stimulates lymph drainage which keeps our immune system happy.
4. Meditation. Again, more detail to come on this, however, there are many studies out there to show the benefits of being able to calm the mind. It’s not about stopping our thoughts altogether, it’s about learning how to observe them so that we aren’t at the mercy of life’s inevitable stresses

How is all this relevant to your back pain? Well, we’re a community of 13 trillion cells, all of which are perceiving their environment based on your brain’s interpretation of the world. They can’t be in growth and defence at the same time, so if your brain perceives threat your cells, which make up the whole of you, can’t heal.

If you would like to learn how your movement can help your breathing and have a beneficial effect on anxiety and stress levels, feel free to come along to a FREE TASTER CLASS to see whether Move-Free can help you.


Georgina Romos headshot

Georgina Ramos is a movement focused therapist based at the Sheffield Wellness Centre. She is trained in Pilates, among many other things but MoveFree is her take on several different fields and she has brought them together. This has enabled her to be able to treat people with a wide range of aches and pains through to insomnia and IBS.