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Feature article archive:

The many benefits of Nordic walking

Walking the walk. Safety association gets behind back health initiative.

Eric Parent: many back pain sufferers can heal themselves

Shara Vigeant: low back pain common among office worker

Try wall yoga to alleviate back pain

Wendy Rodgers: Getting back to fitness after surgery

Judy Negrey: Kundalini yoga

Rosalyn Fung: Movement is the new exercise

Tyler Fix: Staying active through low back pain gets high praise from Edmonton chiropractor

Deb Pineda, Purolator health and safety specialist

Shambhavi Hughes: healing through yoga

Jillian Schick joined colleagues for Take a Walk Day

Kerri Deuna's colleagues have her back

Take a Stand. Why sitting too much can be bad for your health.

Many back-pain sufferers can heal themselves

researcher says Movement and activity the key to relief


Author: Jamie Hall

Eric Parent has two words of advice for people with back pain:
Keep moving.

Parent, an associate professor of physical therapy at the University of Alberta, has devoted most of his professional working life to understanding back pain, and the most effective means of treatment. A physiotherapist in Quebec City in the 1990s, Parent says he was frustrated by the sheer number of patients who came to him complaining of back pain, particularly lower back pain. “I wanted to improve my understanding of the theory behind what we were doing at the time,” says Parent, now 40, “which was mostly manual therapy—mobilization of the lumbar spine.”




Debunking myths

He said by that time the myths about bed rest as the optimal treatment for back pain had been largely debunked, but there was still a lot of work to be done.

Wooed by the chance to be mentored by Michele Crites-Battie, an internationally renowned researcher on lower back pain, Parent moved to Edmonton in 2000 to do his PhD at the U of A.

Through his work with her, and subsequent research, Parent and his colleagues came to understand that activity and movement were by far the best means of treatment.

“Typically, with the vast majority of back pain and lower back pain, we have determined patients are not going to re-aggravate or worsen their condition (through movement). It’s quite the opposite, actually — there are a lot of benefits.”

Patients can heal themselves

“Patients may feel a bit more physically sore for a short period of time, but there was nothing to indicate a worsening of their condition, and in many cases it was just exercise-induced muscle soreness as their body adapted to the challenge.”

A lot of the research now is focusing on what types of exercise programs work best for each patient, understanding there is no one-size-fits-all remedy. Still, says Parent, what is clear is that people with back pain have tremendous power to heal themselves.

“When I was a private practitioner, my patients were looking for somebody else to fix the problem,” says Parent, “but now we know that they can do most of the work themselves just by moving and staying active.

“Really, it’s in the hands of the patient, not in the hands of the therapist.”

 




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