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Back Pain Physiotherapy: Symptoms & Treatment

Back pain is a common condition that affects millions of people worldwide. Physiotherapy can be an effective treatment option for individuals with back pain, helping to improve mobility, reduce pain, and prevent future injury.

What is Back Pain?

Back pain commonly refers to lower back pain, but can really refer to any pain that is in the region of the back from where the neck ends to the tip of the tailbone.

What Does Back Pain Feel Like?

Back pain can be sharp, dull, aching, throbbing or stabbing. The type of pain is very dependent on what is causing the pain.

What are the Reasons for Back Pain?

Back pain can occur for a variety of reasons. Some common reasons are improper SI joint or spine movement mechanics or alignment, pinched nerves, disc herniation, degenerative disc disease, osteoarthritis, sprains to the facet joint, or strains of the muscles in the area.

How is Back Pain Diagnosed?

As with many injuries, it will be very important to have a thorough assessment with your Physiotherapist or Athletic Therapist to determine the exact cause of your pain or injury. Your Physiotherapist or Athletic Therapist will take a subjective history, followed by some objective observations. They will look at how you move as well as check range of motion. They will assess your joint mobility and alignment, test some key structures and check your muscle strength and tone. All of these factors will be used to determine the nature of the injury and the cause.

Can Physiotherapy Help with Back Pain?

Pain Relief

Once the cause has been determined, your Physiotherapist or Athletic Therapist can provide the manual therapy necessary to eliminate the cause as well as provide you with the necessary exercises to help work on your injury at home. Manual therapy can help treat the dysfunctional joints and muscles to help relieve pain and get you moving better.

Stretching and Strengthening to Restore Function

Both core stability around your spine and stretches will likely be necessary. Exercises to promote these things will be provided for home work. The purpose will be to support the many joints of the spine with muscular control and stretch out the tight muscles that are pulling on parts of the spine.

Increase Mobility

Physiotherapists or Athletic Therapists can perform manual therapy techniques to mobilize the many joints of the spine or SI joints in order to restore balanced movement to the spine and therefore the ability move functionally.

Ensure Proper Alignment

Physiotherapists or Athletic Therapists can assess the alignment of your spine and SI joints and address any imbalances in them by mobilizing or using your own muscle activation to correct their position.

Other Forms of Treatment that Can Help

Registered Massage Therapy is also something people tend to turn to with back pain and with good reason.  Massage Therapy can be very helpful in loosening tight muscles and helping to restore normal movement mechanics.

The Best Exercises for Back Pain

Core activation

Lie on your back with your knees bent. (This can be done in any position once you understand it)
Place your fingers just in and down from your hip bones so you can monitor the muscle contraction.
To engage the pelvic floor muscles, pull up inside as if you were stopping yourself from peeing.
To engage the transverse abdominus muscle you can picture a line connecting your hip bones and try to connect them or draw gently your belly button in towards your spine.
Make sure that your superficial abdominals stay relaxed and that you continue to breathe.
Finally, contract your gluts, by squeezing your bum muscles.

Core Activation

Bird Dog

Get on your hands and knees (four point position) with your knees directly under your hips and your hands directly under your shoulders.
Your back is straight and your chin must be tucked in.
Contract your core and glut muscles and then lift one arm and the opposite leg without allowing the trunk or pelvis to move or rotate.
Try to grab something far away in front of you with your hand and touch an imaginary wall far behind you with your foot instead of just lifting them up.
Lower your leg and arm back to the floor and repeat with the other leg and the opposite arm.

Bird Dog

Glute bridge

Lie on your back with your knees bent.
Contract your core and gluts as in the core activation. Use the gluts to lift you and squeeze them at the top of the movement.
Slowly return to the initial position and repeat.

Glut Bridge

Piriformis Stretch

Lie on your back and lift the affected leg to your chest and grab your knee with your opposite hand while the other leg stays straight.
Gently pull your leg across your chest to the opposite shoulder until a stretch is felt deep in the glut/piriformis and let your foot hang over the straight leg.
Maintain your pelvis in contact with the floor by applying pressure with the other hand.
Maintain the position and relax.

Piriformis Stretch

Hip Flexor Stretch

Stand with your feet staggered and the back knee slightly bent.
Tilt your pelvis backward and slowly bring your weight forward onto your front leg until a stretch is felt in front of the hip.
Keep the back in a neutral position for the stretch. Stretch the arm up over head and reach to feel more of a stretch.
Maintain the position.

Hip Flexor Stretch

How Can you Prevent Back Pain?

The best way to prevent back pain is to take care of your body and mind.

Physically active people tend to experience less back pain. Having a strong core, mobile joints and flexible muscles can prevent some of the reasons why back pain might start. Maintenance visits with a Massage Therapist or a Physio or Athletic Therapist can also help prevent problems that might lead to back pain.

Mental and emotional stress can contribute to back pain. Ensure you are taking care of your mental and emotional well being by getting enough sleep and managing stress through taking time to explore your passions, using mindfulness and breathing techniques and using physical exertion to relieve stress.

What is the Fastest Way to Heal Back Pain?

In many cases, back pain is a functional injury. This means that as soon as you restore the function, the pain will diminish. If this is the case, the fastest way to heal would be to attend Physiotherapy, Athletic Therapy or Massage Therapy sessions regularly as well as do the daily recommended exercises and self treatment at home.

If your back pain is due to some structural damage, it may take a little more than just hard work. The area may need some physiological healing time as well. The soft tissue healing time tends to be about 4-6 weeks. Bone healing time is about 6 weeks. Even if there is damage that needs to heal, your fastest route to full pain free function is definitely through regular Physiotherapy, Athletic Therapy or Massage Therapy along with the recommended self treatment and exercise program at home.


As with all injuries, this information is simply a guide, and it is always best to check in with a Physiotherapist or Athletic Therapist to have a personalized assessment and hear recommendations for what you and your body may specifically need.

Contact Us For Help

Inertia Physio+ offers Kanata and Stittsville exceptional Physiotherapy, Athletic Therapy and Registered Massage Therapy with private treatment rooms, one on one care, a maximum of two patients per hour and treatment focused on the evidence based practices of manual and exercise therapy.   Don’t suffer any longer.  If you have pain or injury, our Kanata and Stittsville Physiotherapy, Athletic Therapy and Registered Massage Therapy team is here to help you get back to life pain free life and activities.  Please reach out to us at (613) 672-2200 or for an appointment today!  You are also welcome to book online. We also offer direct billing on Physiotherapy and Massage Therapy services whenever your plan allows.


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