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“My Back Hurts Just Looking at That” - How To Change the Narrative

We have many preconceived notions about what exercise and human movement should look like.

And with this, we deem some exercises or everyday movements as “good” and others as “bad”.

I see examples of this all the time. Someone will see someone else squatting really low and they’ll say, “My knees hurt just looking at that”, or “My body can’t do that anymore”.

We tend to have a sensitivity around lower back pain, with it being what the large majority of the general population will experience over their lifetime.

Most people are afraid to pick things up or bend the wrong way for fear of throwing out their back. They may cite examples of someone just going to tie their shoe and that was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

With how unbelievably adaptable and mobile the human body is, when did we start thinking like this? Why do we think of ourselves as fragile and on the verge of pulling something all the time?

I see two main reasons for this.

The obvious one is that we are significantly less active as a society than before and we don’t feel great physically or mentally because of it.

The second less obvious reason is that it has become so acceptable to be sedentary and rely on temporary band-aid solutions to the problems that being sedentary causes.

What are we usually told when we go to a doctor or physiotherapist with lower back pain?

  • Stop doing certain things (stop moving)

  • Take some pain pills (mask symptoms without fixing the real problem)

  • Do some cookie-cutter stretches (will provide some temporary relief again without fixing the real problem)

We get stuck in this cycle where we don’t move, hurt ourselves when we do, manage the symptoms until our body heals, and then rinse and repeat. Of course, we react negatively to movement.

Maybe if we weren’t so avoidant of movement and strength training, especially as we age, our bodies wouldn’t be so fragile.

Injury happens when the tolerance of our muscles and joints is exceeded by whatever force is being put on them. And our tolerance is extremely low.

We need to strengthen our lower backs, our knees, our shoulders and everything else. We also need to fight back against the narrative that the risks of being physically active are greater than being sedentary because it just isn’t true.

So move your back in all directions. Squat low. Do progressive resistance training. Don’t fear movement. And I guarantee that you won’t end up like those people that say “my back hurts just looking at that”.

To your good health,

Coach Stephen


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