Back pain has reached epidemic levels in the developed world since the end of WW2. During this time Western medicine has thrown both the surgical and pharmaceutical kitchen sinks at the problem to no avail, in fact they may have made matters worse. A tiny minority of back pain sufferers only qualify for surgery, and millions are now addicted to medications that make no impression on the underlying mechanics of back pain. Western medicine is a beautiful thing, I would not be here if it wasn’t for massive doses of radiation and chemotherapy so I more than most appreciate the value of ‘medicine’. The truth is though Western medicine does not have an answer for back pain in the same way that I do not have an answer for cancer or heart disease.
The great news is that there has been a mass of excellent research into how we should manage back pain, and what actually works. The difficulty comes via the fact that there are several different kinds of mechanical back pain and that they all require slightly different things in order to heal and find relief. There are however some major themes that will apply to the majority of back pain cases. I’m this article I am here to distill some of these principles into a step by step process.
Step 1 Relieve Muscles Spasm & Break Up Scar Tissue.
When you go to the dentist with toothache you are generally there first and foremost for the relief that comes from drilling out the bad stuff and filling the hole.
When you come to a clinic like ours with back pain you are generally here to release some combination of scar tissue, muscle spasm and joint stiffness! Getting that stuff sorted is the equivalent of getting a filling at the dentist, except it usually takes a bit longer than a filling. Getting a filling is a great first step towards having no toothache. The real trick is preventing recurrence of the pain though.
Step 2 Learn Exercises
So just about everybody knows about core exercises and their value for preventing back pain nowadays. The basic concept is that we have deep supporting muscles that support the bones and prevent strain/wear and tear on the spine. If we strengthen those muscles we influence the likelihood of us having back pain moving forward.
There are 2 majorly important things to know about core exercises and back pain that very few of the people I meet are aware of when they first meet me.
No.1 is the fact that if you have back pain you absolutely should not be planking and doing sit-ups to strengthen your core!!! If you have back pain and you are planking it’s like throwing kerosene on a fire that you want to put out. Planking and exercises that require a great deal of trunk strength do not work for people with significantly lower back pain issues, and they frequently make matters worse.
No.2 Is the fact that only a percentage of lower back pain sufferers have need core exercises. There are a large sub-group of lower back pain sufferers who have weaknesses in their hips and feet which are causing
Step 3 Execute On Exercises And Adjust Environment.
Like so many things in life, resolving back pain for many of us builds down to a willingness to put in the work. There are for sure a handful of people who get to experience radical and side improvements.. the rest of us need to knuckle down. If this sounds like you I can empathise, my own healing journey has been one of incremental grit and grind.
The cheerful version of events is that once you have the exercises that actually work in your back pocket all you need to do is execute. Execute in these terms only means doing the same for you back as you do for your teeth… 5 minutes a day boys and girls.
The additional necessity for some is that little thing about lifestyle changes.. sounds easy enough but sometimes its a tricky one. I have had some hard conversations recently with people who are having to weigh up some tough calls. ‘Do I need to give up the exercise class that feels like it keeps me sane in exchange for a shot at healing my back pain?’.. type of questions. For others lifestyle change can be something much easier, like a change of desk height. All necessary lifestyle changes work synergistically with rehabilitation exercise over time to reduce the load of strain on the lower spine.
We live in a world where people by and large understand tooth decay and dental pain, you pretty much never hear an argument over whether fillings and sugar avoidance are the keys to successful tooth decay management. When it comes to back pain however it sometimes feels like everybody has an opinion and no 2 are the same. Unfortunately that means on some level that my opinion is just another one.. of many. You could jump back into Google right now and find endless noise that contradicts what I have outlined here. I can at least say in my case that I have literally helped thousands of people to resolve chronic pain. This should at least mean that you might consider testing out my theories and see if they work.