How Becoming an Exercise Physiologist Fixed my Back: with Shauna Downes

Growing up,

I would quite often get what I would call a ‘tired back’. You might experience it yourself- A dull, nagging ache through your lower back, usually for me happening after a few hours wandering around a mall, or standing up at a gig. I never thought much about it or considered it an issue. I never considered it was something that could be fixed. It was just something that was to be expected after standing up for a while.

It wasn’t like I was inactive, either- I played netball, touch football, rode my bike and went for jogs regularly. Every now and then I might even do a few ‘core’ exercises -sit ups, or planks, or something along those lines. My parents had a home gym set up in the garage, and I would quite often go out and complete a basic routine. Despite all this, this achey back was a constant factor in my life.

It stayed with me throughout uni, where I completed an exercise science degree. Still, it never bothered me in the slightest, and still, it never was something I considered fixing.
I remember being at a gig one day and realising as my friend suggested we sit to rest her back, that this wasn’t an issue for me anymore! I hadn’t tried to fix my back, but through my practice as an exercise physiologist, and particularly, as a Pilates instructor, I started to change the way I approached exercise and movement in general.

I focused on slowing down and controlling movement, and focusing on all of the muscles that promote stabilising my pelvis. I wasn’t lifting much weight at all, most exercises were Pilates based. Despite being relatively fit, I found it incredibly challenging to begin with, and quickly figured out I had areas of weakness I had to address. On top of this I started to become mindful of how I stood, how I walked, how I sat.

If I hadn’t chosen this career path, I’m fairly certain I would still be experiencing ‘tired back’. I think we quite often accept these aches to be a part of life. This pain, as mild and innocuous as it may seem at the time, has the potential build and become an issue. It isn’t something you necessarily have to put up with. It’s amazing how much your body can improve if you move and strengthen it well. Exercise has been proven to be the most effective form of long term lower back pain management, and should be a major part of your recovery from pain. It also should be a major part of protecting yourself from future injury.

At Purpose Healthcare we offer an individualised approach to exercise designed to address your specific needs and allow you to achieve your specific goals. If you’ve had aches or pains you’ve learned to live with, why not book in for an assessment and see for yourself how exercise can benefit your body.
Shauna Downes