It’s crazy what can happen in a year. I remember anxiously awaiting this site’s launch date worrying whether or not it was actually going to help people. I knew how important my back pain management was to me but I wasn’t sure how seriously other people took theirs. Despite those feelings, I knew all I really wanted to do is help people with the information I have gained through personal experience and research. Today, I want to do a quick recap on the 5 things that hit me square in the face this year when it comes to improving my back pain management.
This first year that the site has been alive, I have learned a lot about myself and how the way I look at the medical industry could potentially empower someone else to find the same relief. For that, I have no one else to thank but you! Having you as a reader is HUGE. It keeps me staying up later after a long day at work and time with my family just to get content posted. It’s all worth it.
I am late to the party but I wanted to do a “year in review” to celebrate the first year of this blog being available for you to read. Of all the things I have learned, I feel that these 5 things have made the most impact when working through my own personal pain management journey.
1) Permanent change is inevitable: 5+ years ago I was convinced I was going to be able to continue to train as hard as I was while rehabbing my bad back. I know, I was a confused child. I didn’t really understand the whole cause of my back pain. I just knew what the doctor had told me. Now, 5 years later and sitting around 85-90% pain-free I am still learning and making changes to my life that I refused to do at that younger age. That alone was probably the biggest “come to Jesus” movement I had this year. There were things I had to make a permanent life change in order to see lasting relief. In actuality, maybe some of these things won’t have to be forever but as far as I am concerned they are out for good. Things like doing my favorite exercise, the deadlift, or squatting with a bar on my back or sleeping on a super squishy mattress. These may not be your triggers but they mean a lot to me. In order for me to continue to improve on my own management, I had to come to terms with having to cut these out 100% and keep them out.
Do an audit on your life and really try to pick out the things that you know wreck your back but you still do them because for some reason doing it is worth the pain. Another example is shoes. My favorite pair of casual shoes are a fresh pair of classic Vans. You just can’t go wrong wearing these. For some reason, I can guarantee them wrecking my back after wearing them for too long. The same with shoes that have any kind of heal. Sure I can wear them for a wedding or big event but I need to understand I will be dealing with the consequences later. Is it worth it? The same goes for food. If you have a real gluten allergy, in order for you to have 100% relief you have to take them out 100%. It’s not one of those things where you can see the benefits by simply reducing it by half. Your goal is to be as pain-free as possible so the only way to do that is to cut it out 100%.
2) Don’t write it off until it doesn’t work: HUGE mistake I made over and over this past year is trying something out but not really doing it long enough to see if it worked. It either worked right away or it didn’t. If it didn’t, I assumed it wasn’t for me and I moved on. I have made 4 simple rules for myself to follow when trying new stuff out.
Rule of thumb for trying new things out.
- If it works the first time then stick to it and add it to your daily or weekly program.
- Continue to do it even if the pain is gone. You want to continue strengthening whatever it is that needs it.
- If it doesn’t work consider these things
- Is your form perfect?
- Can you modify the exercise to get the same benefit just a better fit for you? ex. less ROM, less reps etc.
- Are you doing too many reps or sets at once?
- If the pain doesn’t increase then stick with it for at least a month to see if it slowly begins to change
- If the pain increases than STOP doing it. It’s either not right for you or your body isn’t ready for it yet.
I have recently gone back and revisited the things I wrote off to see if maybe where I am at now has changed the impact that certain techniques would have on me. Other areas such as nutrition and supplementation of a few key ingredients are where my focus is now. Considering making changes to your eating and key vitamins and minerals is a long term approach and typically doesn’t present proof of working until it has truly become a 100% change lasting for months. Simply stated, some things just take time for them to start working. Your body has to adapt and make the changes necessary. I’ll touch more on what I am currently doing with my nutrition and supplements at a later date 😉
3) Back Pain Recovery comes with tough decisions: I’ve been a fitness nut since I can remember. One of the hardest pills that I had to swallow this year was the decision to actually STOP working out. Yeah, I know sounds crazy right. Well, it all comes down to allowing my body to heal and recover the way it needs to. My Back pain has decreased dramatically over the years but there are still things that hurt that I feel shouldn’t. That’s where I am at now. Making the decision to completely stop lifting and allow my body to both heal and truly show my weak spots was a must. All the things I was afraid of happened. I lost strength, size, got a lot softer and just felt like crap. That was the reality of quitting altogether. I had gotten to a point in my life and recovery that I needed to really find out what was important to me. Was having 17+ inch biceps worth the back pain I experienced days after each workout? It wasn’t and it’s still not. I have slowly begun to work exercises back into my daily routine but I still have ups and downs which is expected. I wish I was just 100% pain-free but I am not and I may never be but as long as I can progress and see improvement it’s worth it, and if you truly suffer from constant back pain you know exactly how much that little bit of relief is worth to you. It’s priceless.
I am not afraid of taking time off now. I didn’t work out for over 6 months!! 14+ years of training and the longest I was ever away from the gym was a month. I literally felt like I had lost a part of my purpose here on earth haha. At the end of the day, the time off helped me improve and fine-tune my own training along with my daily life habits. If you’re serious about fixing your back pain you have to be doing WHATEVER it takes. it may not be working out for you, maybe its mountain biking, running, or golfing. Whatever it is, NOTHING is out the window when it comes to back pain recovery.
4) You are at the mercy of your pain: If you have been dealing with chronic back pain than this has always been a reality for you. Your pain has always determined what you can and cannot do. The only difference now is that you can use that pain tolerance for good as well as the main focal point of your recovery. A bad back is fragile in its early stages. You have to respect what it’s trying to tell you. A lot of people get into rehabbing a bad back and they simply think working out whether with or without pain is just what it takes to get better. Wrong. I have started a workout and barely gotten through the warm-up and have had to pull the plug on the entire thing simply because my back isn’t agreeing with what I am doing or maybe something I did the day before. Embrace it. you may have to pay someone to cut your grass or do your summer landscaping just to give your body the break it needs. Nothing is off the table.
5) You will forever be changing…well as long as you have pain that is. You see, the most complicated part of solving your own back pain issue is figuring out what is causing it in the first place. Is it from your terrible squat form? Is it from sitting all day at work only to go home and sit more? Is it from a ruptured or bulging disc or Is it from poor posture and hip position? You need to find out where you fit with what’s causing your pain. This past year has really been a big change for me. I have been trying out a lot of different techniques along with getting my own coaching. I have been able to dive a little deeper into my recovery and get even more specific then I was when I started. It’s both a blessing and a curse. We all want a cookie-cutter fix but in reality, you have to put the time in if you want to see lasting results. One thing that I can say is I am glad I am not doing the same old thing as before because if I was I wouldn’t be where I am today. Keep trying new things but always go at it with purpose. Have an open mind and don’t leave a single stone unturned.
There you have it guys. 5 Things that have been the biggest influences over the past year. I am excited to celebrate the 1 year anniversary of the site and I owe it all to you guys the readers! I am excited about the new year and the new content that I am going to be releasing. Stay tuned!