I came across this info just yesterday about BeltLife, an “Innovative Product Designed to Relieve Low Back Pain Naturally, Safely and Comfortably” … here’s the blurb:
BeltLife is a premium low-back heat wrap designed for athletes, outdoor enthusiasts, and everyday back pain sufferers. It’s shaping the natural back pain relief revolution.
So I guess we are using heat again to treat low back pain. In short, for people who suffer chronic low back soreness due to muscle tightness or fatigue, heat will provide temporary relief. It certainly won’t make the low back pain any better for any sustained period of time, and if used for prolonged periods will lead to de-conditioning, increases spasms and swelling and long term chronicity…but at least it felt good for a little while.
Question: When was the last time you saw the Trainer for your favorite sports team run onto the field and throw a hot pack on an injured athlete? Your answer is NEVER and the reason is simple…heat increases blood circulation which does provide some short term benefit, but inevitably it results in increased inflammation. Always use ice in the case of an acute injury, because your first goal is treating any musculoskeletal pain is to control inflammation.
For low back sufferers the rules are simple:
1. If the pain is sudden and acute, use ice as directed above.
2. If the pain is chronic, you have to CHANGE the conditions that have caused your back to be chronically dysfunctional. IE: You have got to:
a. Strengthen the weakened muscles,
b. Relax the overactive muscles
c. And mobilize any joints that lack movement or have become fixated.
I will talk at great lengths about the role of proper rehab for chronic conditions in the future. But for now, the moral of the story is improving chronic pain requires work, and those who put in the work, benefit tremendously. Just like you can’t simply walk into a gym and suddenly be in great shape, you can’t simply wrap a hot pack around your back and think you cured chronic pain and dysfunction.