Life transitions can be some of the most debilitating seasons of life you can go through. Some transitions are filled with positive upswings like a new dream job with higher pay and a shorter commute. While others are built around taking risks pursuing a dream or different life. Not promising anything better but simply different. To me, these transitions can be very different but both very necessary in life. Today, I want to bring you up to speed on what has been the biggest “transition” in my life and what I have learned about back pain and progressing through it.
When it comes to lower back pain and following an at home rehab program, I have narrowed it down to 2 things that play a major role in the amount of success most people either see or don’t see.
Number 1: Not knowing if what they are doing is the BEST thing for them.
Number 2: Not knowing when it is safe for them to progress to the next “level” or exercise.
Today, I want to shed some light on a few areas that need to stay in sharp focus if you’re going to venture out on your own and attack this back pain once and for all. My focus for today is for you to leave with a little more confidence in whether or not you are on the right track and progressing safely. If you’re still not sure if this article is for you then answer this question. Do you find yourself thinking or saying any of the things below?
1 – How do you know which exercises to start with if my lower back hurts?
2 – When should I try a more challenging exercise? How do I know if my lower back is ready to progress?
3 – How do I know if my lower back is ready to progress?
If so, you are at the right place!
Yoga and stretching in general, is one of my favorite topics to teach and talk about with a new client. Most of the time you hear a lot of “I get it, that makes total sense!” or ‘Oh, wow I have been doing it all wrong”. These are those Aha moments I love to bring out in people. I know a number of people who have had Yoga literally change their life for the better and others where they feel Yoga has “let them down” when it comes to healing their own chronic pain. Today, I want to shed light on a popular article that has been floating around and give you some practical advice they don’t talk about when attempting to get into Yoga from a back pain sufferers perspective.
What do you do when nothing seems to be working? No matter what you do it seems your lower back pain just won’t go away or relief seems to get to a certain point and just stops. You thought you had things dialed in and you were on the right path but something seems to have set you back. Believe me when I say this. I have been through more than one of these negative cycles. 7+ years ago I chose to disregard anything surgeons and doctors told me and set out to find my own solution. Over the years I have become wiser and have allowed a few hand-picked professionals help me along the way but I still feel they are limited in exactly how much they could actually help. Today, I want to share with you the reality of seeking out relief for yourself. My hopes for this post is to bring encouragement to those who seem to have hit a wall and share some of my own reality, struggles, successes, and failures along the way.
When it comes to our feet and lower back pain, a lot of people tend to overlook the importance of the foot’s alignment for the rest of the body. Most people don’t actively engage their body with what they are doing. They don’t think how these shoes or that posture will affect their performance. We base everything off of pain. If it hurts then it must be bad. If it feels good then it must be good. Today, we are going to go on a crash course to caring for your feet, using them as the tool that they were designed for and how all this impacts your lower back.
I give a funky toe and foot stretch at the end of today’s video…be sure to catch it!
Rounded shoulders, text neck, forward head posture, scapular instability are all potentially caused by muscles that are overstretched and tight along with muscles that are “stuck” short and weak. This next segment of this series is going to cover exactly how to attack these dysfunctions head on. Today we are covering exactly how to correct your text neck issue along with your unstable shoulders and why all LBP suffers need to address these things if they want to see relief. It’s not so much the specific exercises that you pick but rather the amount of time you spend focusing on these issues. To see real change you need time. Most people will stick to mobilizing and strengthening for about 2 weeks and that’s when things start to fall apart. I want to show you how ot beat the status quo and stick to it long enough to see results.
When it comes to chronic lower back pain, breathing, bracing and being able to find YOUR neutral pelvis will always have a HUGE impact on how you recover. The medical industry over complicates and treats back pain as if it’s cancer. They cut away at your discs and fuse the bones together as if the fact that your bones move freely and discs respond to abuse is a bad thing. The “medical professionals” are only here to do one thing and that is to treat the damage, not the cause. Getting long-term relief from chronic lower back pain can be frustrating if you’re trying to do it on your own. You have to know where to start and in what direction to go.
In today’s post (Part II of this series) we are continuing what will go down in history as the number one source for ANYONE looking to take the right steps towards finding freedom from chronic low back pain. Specifically, we will be diving into correcting the way you’re breathing, bracing and locking in a neutral pelvis and how these three being happily married is a necessity for beating chronic low back pain.
The first thought to come to my mind once my acute back pain started turning into chronic pain was DEFINITELY not about learning to move better. Instead if fixing the way I was moving and using my body, I spent hours on Google and YouTube searching for the answer. I was desperately looking for THE stretch or exercise that was going to not only bring me instant relief but offer a lasting solution to my pain. Odds are, you made that same search and guess what usually hits on the top 10 best answers on Google?
Nothing that actually works.
In today’s post, I want to offer you a different approach to your “first few steps” to working towards rehabbing a bad back. There is no reason to sugar coat this and keep talking about stretching this or foam rolling that. We have to address the way you move and use your body. Whether you have been diagnosed with disc issues, coming from a surgery or have zero damage to your spine but chronic lower back pain, over the next few weeks I want to give you an inside look at how you need to unpack your own personal rehab journey.
Today, we cover two entry level techniques that will lay the first layer to your foundation to getting the relief you want.
I don’t know how else to say this so I’m just going to be straight forward. Lower back pain is not a mind over matter type of thing. The pain is very real, it’s not all in your head and guess what…
YOU are the cause of what’s going on.
Not you throwing your back out at practice when you were in high school or slipping on some ice in your driveway 6 years ago. The way you move is what’s causing your pain. (If you want to see 25 of the most common habits check this out). Your movement is junk and unless you learn to do it right, these dysfunctions are going to eat away at your body. I’m not talking about the complex movements you do in the gym or anything spectacular. I am talking about the way you brush your teeth, how you bend to tie your shoes, how you lift your kids, fold the laundry, wrap Christmas presents, the list goes on and on. It’s the things you do hundreds, sometimes thousands of times a day that has gotten you to where you are today.
My vision for the next few weeks is to shed light on what actually is important when it comes to creating your own recovery plan and getting the most long lasting relief possible. I’m not talking about stretches or exercises either. We are going to cover ground zero today and work our way up over the next few weeks.
I’m going to break up this content into small bite-size nuggets so you can focus on one thing at a time. If you’re NOT seeing progress with your own strategy I want you to really consider taking a long hard look at the print offs your PT gave you and reevaluate what you’re doing. Each new article will be separated by one week which will give you 7 days to implement what you have learned before the next progression is covered.
** Warning ** If you are going to be following along with this series and implementing what you see here,
A) Make sure you’re cleared by your doctor to even begin any kind of movement outside of daily life
B) You need to stop ALL extra curricular activities and fully commit to following what this series is about. This means no more exercise, no more intermural sports, no more weekend softball league. Everything needs to stop and you need to focus on healing, desensitizing your lower back and learning to move better.
C) Your recovery is on YOUR schedule. Just because I am posting once a week doesn’t mean your body is ready to progress on a week to week basis. If you need more time, take it. If you are able to progress pain-free, do it.
This series is not meant to be your personalized guide. Every back is different but ALL bad backs need to make sure they have these things covered!
Where to begin to move better when dealing with chronic lower back pain.
“Secret tip”: This stuff needs to be hammered every single day. You need to become obsessed with correcting the things we are going to cover today and for the next few weeks. This is not a “when I can remember” kind of thing. There is no other place to start when it comes to getting control over your pain so this stuff needs to be treated as if it was the cure for cancer. If you still believe more rest is what’s best for your chronic lower back pain, it’s time to face the music.
Desensitizing the lower back
-Turn off your back-
Before you can start ANY rehab program you have to learn to cover the basics of being able to lower the demand on the muscles that are causing you so much pain. The first layer of your foundation is learning to shut things off.
This is a very simple topic and it has to do with how we as humans tend to default when it comes to how we move. The problem with a lot of back pain sufferers is they don’t know how to preserve their tissue. Most of the time their lower back muscles are always “on” which over time leads to greater issues. What I mean by “on” is that they are moving in a way that forces their posterior chain to always be working. It’s not your muscles fault, they are just doing their job. The entire posterior chain is there to counterbalance the anterior chain. When one is working the other has to back off or create balance. You create a problem when one side is super weak and the other has to become hyperactive to make up for what’s going on.
Well, when you don’t know how to shut them off and find balance, something is going to eventually get over-worked.
When it comes to the way you stand, there is a simple technique that I personally use and teach my clients to practice every minute they can. The goal of this technique is learning to shut the lower back off and find a sense of balance in your body.
<<Do this now>>
If you weren’t already, you need to start implementing this 1,000+ times a day minimum…okay, that’s a bit unrealistic but I’m trying to get you to completely reprogram the way you move and use your body. In order to do that you have to understand that what you’re doing now is broken. Practice this technique as soon as you set foot out of bed, while you stand waiting for your coffee to finish, while standing to use the bathroom (for the guys), while talking on the phone with your boss that won’t shut up. Whenever you’re sitting or standing, learn to reset yourself and do it every single day until you don’t even think about it.
-Walk with confidence-
Most people have a bad habit of walking with their head to the ground. Because of this, you will typically see the rest of their upper body favor a more forward flexed position when walking. It’s as if their forward movement is being driven by momentum alone. Whether it’s because you’re deep in thought, love looking at your new yzy’s or scared to step on a crack cus you’ll break yo momma’s back. This habit has got to be broken. Stacking your body segments and being able to carry them in a healthy position is huge when it comes to preserving tissue. If your not in a balanced position, these posterior chain muscles become hyperactive. Remember, Chronic pain is a result of chronic poor movement and positions.
Your one solution to actively addressing this issue is this.
Walk with confidence.
You can see the person in the first image has everything hunched over and looking towards the ground. This doesn’t allow for stacking the body segments the way they should and is causing the back line (back of body) to have to work overtime to keep the body upright and moving forward. This is not an efficient way of moving.
When aiming to correct your posture when walking it simply takes practice and a willingness to make the changes to your daily habits. Over time, just like using the technique to shutting off your lower back muscles, if you actively pursue a better technique with walking, new habits will be formed. All you have to do set reminders for yourself to check your form to ensure you’re on the right track.
So what does “good walking posture” really consist of?
Well, it starts with your feet. This is actually a great video on looking at the feet when it comes to walking properly. Making a few simple intentional changes can be huge.
Just so we know we are making positive changes to our walking technique lets dive in a little deeper and give you some actionable cues to use when trying to improve your lazy style of walking.
<<Do this now>>
To get a better feel for what your feet are doing when walking I recommend practicing outside in your bare feet. Learn to grip the ground with your toes and use the muscles in the foot and leg to make the movements happen. An easy way of remembering this is to always think to use the muscles in your body while you walk “Intentionally”. If you’re looking to dive even deeper into looking at how to balance the body when walking and making sure you’re activating the right muscles and doing things efficiently, this is an easy read that covers just that.
I wanted this first “ice breaker” post to be easy to implement but super powerful. It’s the simplest way of looking at the first few steps you need to take in seeing long lasting results. If this is old news for you and you are already doing everything we talked about, do an audit of these two things and make sure you are actually doing them right, every single day. If you don’t make these changes permanent, you can’t move on to the next stage of your recovery, it’s as simple as that. Stay tuned for next week as we dive into your next stage of gaining more control of your movement and pain management!!
I need your help! I passionately want to reach people just like you and me who are struggling to find solutions to their back pain and don’t want to go the traditional treatment route. I need your support! If you found this article helpful in any way please share it to your social media platforms or with a specific friend in mind. There is so much crap on the internet that back pain sufferers are consuming and implementing every day. Help me make a positive change! Share the wealth! Thank you!
Believe it or not, you can actually make your back injury WORSE by doing the Lat Pull-Down the wrong way. If you’re looking for ways to improve the way you train and promote good health and healing to a bad back, the Lat Pull-Down is another exercise you need to dial in. This week’s video is for anyone who uses the Lat Pull-Down machine or enjoys working in pull-ups into their program. Whether you are a beginner or more advanced lifter, these issues need to be addressed. If you’re doing these wrong, the solution to your pain will always be two steps ahead of you.
A few weeks ago we covered a few other popular back exercises when it comes to common mistakes a lot of back pain sufferers make. If you missed that article you can check it out here. Or just click the image below.
Today, I want to cover the Lat Pull-Down, another super popular exercise that all beginner to advance “exercisers” like to do. Unfortunately, A lot of back pain suffers are told to “strengthen their backs” in order to get rid of their back pain. Not knowing any better, they run to their nearest gym and hop on one of the most well-known machines available. The Lat Pull-Down. It’s a pretty simple movement that just about anyone can mimic, even if they are not taught how to use the machine in the first place.
The problem I have with this is that most back pain sufferers don’t realize that the way they are doing the exercise could be one of the major reasons they can’t kick their chronic pain. Remember, beating back pain is about promoting healthy movements, controlled loads in the gym and progressing only when you can accomplish the movement pain-free. Just because you are doing a back exercise doesn’t mean it’s going to help you combat your pain.
Whether you use this exact machine at your gym, have a home gym set-up with bands or do bodyweight pull-ups. The concepts covered in this video are addressing the same faulty patterns.
This week’s video is on fixing your broken Lat Pull-Down
As you pursue a life that supports healing to your bad back. I encourage you to do a complete audit of your entire training program. We are told constantly by our doctors to just “exercise more”. The scary part about that is we are not given proper instruction on how to do these exercises the right way. Educate yourself and don’t rely on the person next to you at the gym to have a fat clue about what they are doing. You be the expert and take control of your pain!
Help me spread the word and help more back pain sufferers like you and me! Share this with your friends if it helped you in any way! Thanks so much!
Talk to you soon!