Motion Physiotherapy Myth busting article in Viva Lewes magazine

Viva lewes interviewed Dan Nicholls at Motion Physiotherapy, here is the article that was published in this months magazine....

Dan Nicholls is a man of many medical hats: he is an advanced practitioner in the NHS, a visiting lecturer at Brighton University teaching human anatomy in the cadaver lab, and has worked as a physio for the British Basketball team,British Swim team and England Athletics as well as 2012 London Olympics and 2014 Commonwealth Games.

He also finds time to manage Motion Physiotherapy, a family run clinic at the Southdown Sports Centre. But don’t expect to find him there if you read this before April 16th: he’ll be on Australia’s Gold Coast, working once again with Team England at the Commonwealth Games.

Physiotherapy is for everyone, and not just pro sportspeople, of course, and I’ve asked to meet Dan in his clinic, shortly before he sets off to Oz, to bust a few myths around back pain.

“Myth number one,” he asserts: ‘Pain equals damage’. The level of pain experienced is rarely proportional to the amount injury sustained to the back. Pain is far more complex than this, the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy acknowledge pain levels are a reflection of how threatened each human perceives itself to be. For example, past experiences, general health factors, beliefs, sleep, stress and exercise levels as well as psychological wellbeing, all play important parts in how much pain each individual might experience”

“Myth number two: ‘a scan will show me what’s wrong’. Again, not necessarily true. Scans correlate poorly with symptoms of  low back pain, additionally research has shown that people who don't have low back pain have disc bulges, disc degeneration, disc protrusions and facet joint degeneration. These things are down to normal ageing:wrinkles on the inside. This does not mean all scans are irrelevant, but the the conversation after a scan is critical, contextualising it with normal finding in a pain free population. To give you an example in a recent survey, of 3,110 over-50s who felt no back pain, 80% were shown in scans to have disc degeneration, and 36% had disc protrusions. So if someone who did have back pain had a scan and found that out, they might assume it was the cause of the pain, and this might lead to inappropriate behaviour changes, such as avoiding certain movements like bending.”

“Myth number three: ‘I have a back injury, so I should avoid exercise especially weight training’. Again, not true. Studies have shown positive benefits of exercise and high load resistance training. Don’t try to squat double your body weight, obviously, but don’t entirely avoid doing high-load resistance training in the gym, because the right sort of training can result in making your back more robust. Most importantly select a form of exercise you enjoy”

Dan’s work with professional teams is about preventing injury as well as treating it, but his clients at Motion Physiotherapypredominantly come to him with existing injuries. Enough of the myth busting: what should I do, I ask him, to make sure I don’t have to visit his clinic again, this time as a patient? “The answer’s in the name of the clinic,” he says. “Keep moving, here’s another stat: the average adult spends 70% of their waking hours sitting down. Movement can be viewed as medicine, and like all medication you need to get the dosage right. Aim for at least 75min of vigorous intensity, or 150min moderate intensity per week, motion is the potion.”

Dan Nicholls