Study finds Tylenol and rest not best remedy for an aching back; movement, breathing and a strong body is the answer

Tylenol and rest as a cure for back pain is a thing of the past, instead the preferred treatment is to keep moving, according to a news release from the Saint Louis University Medical Center.

Seventy-five percent of people experience at least one episode of back pain in their lifetime and Chris Sebelski, DPT and associate professor of physical therapy and athletic training atSaint Louis University, says that researchers still struggle with understanding what causes it and how to treat it,

And to add to this confusion, a study released earlier this year by Australian researchers found that acetaminophen, brand name Tylenol, appears to make no difference in helping patients manage back pain, according to the release.

“It may be that acetaminophen helps but doesn’t completely eliminate back pain, or it may work for some people and some injuries, but not others,” Sebelski said in the release. The answer is to “broaden our approach to include more than Tylenol and a few days rest.”

America’s sedentary lifestyle which often includes desk jobs, hours in front of a screen and lack of physical activity is a recipe for stiff muscles and achy backs.

“Instead of sitting at your desk for hours, change positions, stand for 20 minutes, or go for a walk and talk to someone. Movement will keep you healthy and allow you to adjust,” Sebelski said in the release.

And the level of movement doesn’t have to be a huge time or energy commitment; “you don’t have to join a gym,” he said.

People with back pain should also work work on strengthening the whole body, Sebelski says. Strong legs, limber hips and a strong trunk “will keep you from overtaxing lower back muscles to compensate for weakness elsewhere in the body.”

Sebelski also emphasises the importance of breathing which surprisingly also strengthens groups of muscles within your trunk.

“Deep breathing really activates key muscles in your trunk,” Sebelski said. “Talk. Laugh out loud. Do cardio. Do yoga. Do things that force you to breathe. This will help your back stay healthy.”

The best medicine for an aching back, says Sebelski, is “active rest.”

“There’s no such thing as just ‘rest,’ Sebelski said. “At rest, muscles weaken; moving builds strength. Think about it in terms of alternating movement and active rest.

“Even after an injury, while you don’t put yourself at risk by pushing yourself too hard before you’re ready, you also don’t just go to bed. You do what you can do. Even something as simple as walking offers significant benefits.”

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