I am not a big fan of setting new year’s resolutions simply because for the average person, stopping a handful of habits and starting brand new ones all in one day, is a guaranteed failure. You can’t change an entire year of bad habits in one day. Seriously. What you CAN do is reflect on what you attempted to do, assess the results and change course to either pursue it further or go a different direction altogether. You can apply this approach to your normal every-day life just as much as your pursuit to living pain-free. Today, I want you to put the foam roller and LAX ball away and just simply read this post with an open mind. I want you to learn to break down your own pursuit of beating lower back pain. I want to show you what worked for me and what didn’t over the past year. Along with some big news on what’s to come for you here on the site!
Like most others, 2016 had it’s ups and downs. When it comes to my own pursuit of mastering the art of pain management, I definitely saw areas where I had wasted a lot of time in, along with areas that I need more attention. I want to break these down by concepts I believe play the biggest role in beating lower back pain.
What Didn’t Work:
As a writer on the topic of passionately calling out the BS found in the medical industry when it comes to treating lower back pain, coaching individuals in their own pursuit of relief, as well as continuing education, to say my brain was consumed with all things back pain would be an understatement. This lead me to always focus on the topic and never really shutting it off in my head. Testing and fine tuning for my own program lead me to be hyper-sensitive towards my body and consumed too much by “pain”. When you focus too much on one thing 2 things tend to happen. 1) You focus soo much on it that you never allow your brain to let ago and allow your body to do what it’s created to do and that’s heal. The second thing is you can subconsciously become impatient and tend to not stick around long enough to see the fruit from your labor. You become so focused on seeing results that you want them to be instant. Unfortunately, That’s not how it works.
I know first hand how all-consuming lower back pain can be. The key is to focus on intentionally pursuing your relief naturally but don’t allow your life to revolve around it. You will have good days and bad days. On the good days continue to do what works and on the bad days, rest but cut back to the things that you know work for you. Posture, sitting too much, and bending are usually the first things suffer or cause pain when you’re in the early phases of a flair up.
I need you to understand something. in your pursuit for unmedicated pain management, there is a trial and error aspect that you have to come to terms with. Even today where I am the most pain-free I have ever been, I tend to forget how far I have come and all the victories I have had over the years. I am a recovering perfectionist which means in my mind, the only win is to have ZERO pain. That’s an exhausting way of thinking but it’s what keeps me driven, learning and searching for as many people to help as I can. The biggest mind shift for me as been that this is a process. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. I have spent years destroying my body in various sports and leisure activities. I have to be patient with the process.
What Didn’t Work:
I hate how complex yet shallow the “mobility movement” is today. There is so much stuff that we read and watch that talks about how our hips aren’t loose enough or we don’t have enough range of motion in our jaw, which could be throwing off our shoulders and causing a hike in our hip. It’s crap and is not helping anyone get anywhere. I understand that our body is one big kinetic chain but why in the world would you post an Instagram or Facebook image of someone’s foot, talking about how your back could hurt due to the lack of mobility in your big toe. That does NOTHING for people who are dealing with back pain. Spend the 5-10 minutes you took creating that post and invest it in asking people who are really suffering from back pain, how you can help them. Just because you have all these letters after your name doesn’t mean jack. How well can you regurgitate all that doctoral knowledge in a way that will actually help someone? That’s what matters.
I myself can get caught up in trying to sound super smart, using big words, complex systems and off the wall ideas but I lose focus on what matters; the fundamentals and how you can implement them into your relief program and actually see results.
Also, just because someone as big league as Dr. Stuart McGill says in his book you should do XYZ for your back pain, doesn’t mean it’s the best thing for you. You have to test it first and see how it works on you. If it hurts and you know you’re doing it right, than throw it out.
I have given up on trying to work on 5 different problem areas when it comes to mobility. What I started doing midway into the year is hitting 1 or 2 big ideas every day multiple times a day. That is where I have seen the most results. I know for me my hip flexors, Quadratus Lumborum and Soas are a big problem for me. These are the only things I really work on right now and I can tell a difference. What the industry doesn’t tell you is that it takes a lot of time and consistent work, to see a change in something like your hip flexor length. It won’t happen after a few weeks of attention. It takes a minimum of 3-4 months of constant work to see lasting change.
What Didn’t Work:
-I am still pursuing the one issue I still have with my lower back flaring up once my legs become sore. It’s a tightness thing that can’t just be rolled out in one session. This is been super frustrating at times because you can’t just leave out half of your body when it comes to being healthy. What I have come to terms with is that training my lower body the way I did when I was younger is out the window for now. I may never be able to have 300+ pounds on my back again but that doesn’t mean I can’t develop and strengthen my legs in other ways.
-Segmented training (body building style training) isn’t good for back pain sufferers. You really need to shift your mindset onto full body movements that force you to utilize all aspects of your trunk and limbs together.
-Your doctor sucks at prescribing exercises for your back pain. Be careful about taking his/her advice on the topic unless they take the time to really understand your pain triggers. If they just tell you to “resume normal activity” demand a refund and free treatments going forward since odds are you will end up back in their office within a few months after you reinjure yourself.
What did Work:
-If you’re dealing with back pain most exercises can be modified to meet you where you are. Anything from the squat to a bicep curl can play a role in either hurting or helping your back pain. The key is to learn what movements you can manage and how you can train around these issues until the issues are resolved
-For muscle groups such as my legs, I am doing more experimentation with training them in small spurts throughout the week. One day I may do 3-4 sets of an exercises and spend time releasing tissue and stretching troubled spots for the rest of the time. A day later I will do another 3-4 sets of a different exercise. This spreads out the overall load on my legs over an entire week instead of spending an hour destroying them in one day and being in pain for the next 2-3 weeks.
-I don’t do the “cool” exercises just to do them anymore. Exercises like bent over rows have been replaced with bench supported rows. Not only does it give me less stress on my lower back but it allows me to focus on the exercise and the muscles I am trying to hit.
The plans I have for you in 2017
-There are still so many people I come in contact with who need detailed help. They need more than just a good article explaining a concept. They need the confidence that following what I say in that article is going to help their SPECIFIC situation. Because of that, I have decided to open up slots for my Personalized Pain Relief. This has become my most detail oriented coaching I offer. It’s the only way I can devote a lot of time and energy onto your specific situation and take you from feeling hopeless to hopeful with your own pain relief.
– I will also be launching my first relief course called (it’s actually a secret right now haha) hopfully available late February to mid-March. This has been an exciting process trying to piece some of the most important aspects of my personal coaching into something you can take home for yourself and work through. The results have been amazing and I can’t wait to make this available to you. I’ll be touching more on this later as the release nears.
-I want to up the volume of my FREE content and gifts I have sprinkled throughout the website. My favorite thing to do is turn someone’s question into an article that I can not only deliver to them as my response but help anyone else dealing with the same issue. This is why my goal is to have at least one or more pieces of content a week. I will also be changing the depth of articles from time to time. Some of my highest sought after articles like How to Fix Rounded Shoulders, The Truth about How Shoes Affect Your Back, and How to Fix Anterior Pelvic Tilt are super detailed and can feel like your drinking from a fire hydrant. I won’t cut them out completely but will keep them limited per month and focus on practical chunks of wisdom you can consume and put to work.
-This is always my focus but I want to get to know you even more. I have a lot of people who actively email me, comment and share what they love but the more I know about your situation, wants and desires, the better I can serve you. I want you to not only trust the information you read here for yourself but trust it enough to share it with anyone you know dealing with lower back pain.
I am really excited about the new year. I want to help more people and hear about more people getting relief on their own! Help me do that!
When it comes to your own back pain relief, what are you going to do differently? Let me know in the comments below!