Warning: Some of these may surprise you!
1. DON’T try to “stand up straight” and have “good posture.” Many times with back pain our bodies adopt a crooked or bent over posture. This happens for a reason: To keep pressure off of the nerves. If you try to straighten up, your body will tell you immediately that this is the wrong thing to do by increasing the pain you’re feeling.
2. DON’T try abdominal strengthening or core stabilization. There’s been plenty of research done on this and none of it has shown that strengthening our core decreases back pain. Not that it’s bad to have strong core muscles. It just doesn’t help with back pain, especially in the acute stage. It can, in fact (and I’ve seen it many times), make people hurt more and retard the healing process.
3. DON’T believe “no pain, no gain.” If it hurts, don’t do it. Don’t try to push through the pain. Again, especially in the acute stage. This doesn’t mean just lie in bed or sit on the couch. No activity is bad AND forced activity is bad, as well. Move in ways that feel comfortable, or at least safe. Stay under the radar of threat so your muscles don’t tighten up more, increasing your back pain, and so your fight/flight response isn’t turned up further, again, increasing your back pain.
So what SHOULD you do if have back pain. Listen to your body. Move in a way that feels ok and that decreases the tightness/guarding. Find positions of comfort and change them when they start to feel uncomfortable. And, if you need to, seek guidance from a professional who believes in your body’s incredible capacity for self-correction and healing.