Step by step guide to alleviate and avoid lower back pain.
A lot of people struggle with lower back pain these days…
According to http://www.thegoodbody.com/back-pain-statistics/ 10% of the world population suffers from back pain…and I’m one of them.
This is a bit of an embarrassing confession, because I’m a personal trainer and most folk’s ideas of personal trainers are that they are perfectly fit and healthy.
But I’ve decided having back pain has made me an even better trainer because I’ve had to study and learn even more about the human body than what my personal training course taught me.
Because of my injury and limitations, I’ve learned how to challenge my clients and give them a good workout without causing more (back) injury and I’ve discovered my simple 3 Step Routine to “fixing” back pain.
But first let me tell you my story of how I got my back pain…
It all started about 12 years ago, I had just started to get serious with my bodybuilding and felt huge and strong. I want to show off to my dad and got the brilliant idea to snatch him above my head.
Ok, I’m not a small guy (around 6ft and 100kg) but my dad is a bit bigger than me–he weighed at least 110-120kg of Heineken 😛 and I was lucky that I did manage to get him hoisted above my head…
But while I was holding my dad above my head I heard a loud “crrrraaack” and I felt a sharp pain in my back. I quickly put my dad down and laughed off the incident. I was showing off so the last thing I wanted was for folks to know I had hurt my back with that stunt.
I was young (I was only 22yrs old at that time) and strong, buff like a bull, so the back pain didn’t bother me so much then. I felt a dull pain in my back for a couple of weeks but because I could train and lift my weights I kept on going.
I was passionate about fitness and building muscle so a little niggling back pain was not going to stop me..,LOL!
It was around this time that I decided to become a full time personal trainer. I overhauled my life and quit my secure and fairly well-paid job as a master electrician in my home town of Den Haag and moved to Thailand.
In Bangkok, Thailand I opened two successful personal training fitness studios (Maxfit Performance and Maxfit Bangkok) and continued my love affair with heavy weight lifting.
All was going well, but one day while dead lifting my regular weight of 180kgs I felt and heard the “craaaack” again. This time the pain was unbearable, and my lower back muscles just completely seized up on me. I couldn’t walk, I was literally rolling on the gym floor writhing in pain.
This was a massively embarrassing experience for me, as I was working out by myself, so some other dudes in the gym (complete strangers to me) had to roll me into a cab so I could get to a hospital.
It was really bad this time and I ended up not being able to walk for 2 weeks and had to go for an MRI to see what really was wrong with my back. The MRI confirmed that my L4 and L5 were degenerative and quite damaged from a serious injury from awhile ago.
It took me a second to remember when I got injured, because I had not taken the pain I had experienced when I was 22 seriously. I was a bit shocked, I guess I had thought I was healthy, strong, packed with muscle and indestructible.
I’ve come to realize, and admit to myself, that if I had taken care of myself back then, and hadn’t chosen to ignore the pain I felt, I might not have the serious back condition I have now.
Tweaking my back and not being able to walk has happened a few times now and the last time the doctors recommended that I have surgery. But after some research and asking folks who have had surgery to fix the condition I have, I decided to see if I could “fix” my back without surgery.
Ok, I can’t technically “fix” my degenerated discs as the damage has been done. But because I’m a personal trainer and constantly helping other folks get their strength and mobility back after injuries I figured I should try to “fix” my back through modified exercises and mobility work first—before committing to surgery.
I also took this as a great opportunity to learn more how to train other folks with back pain or back injuries like myself.
I devoured books like:
The 7‑Day Back Pain Cure: How Thousands of People Got Relief Without Doctors, Drugs By Jesse Cannone
Healing Back Pain By John E. Sarno,
Treat Your Own Back By Robin McKenzie
Trigger Point Therapy for Low Back Pain: A Self-Treatment Workbook By by Mary Biancalana and Sharon Sauer
I also learned a lot from Donnie Thompson he’s a great power lifter and Physical Therapist with a lot of knowledge about back injury. You can watch me practice some of his tips of how to relieve back pain using a resistance band in Step 2 below.
It took a bit of time for me to decide what really worked for me. But I believe I have narrowed down my “fix back pain” routine to 3 steps which I will share with you soon…I promise!
So, if you don’t have time to read all the books I posted above. And if you’re not sure how to implement all the exercises/stretches your physiotherapist says you should do, you can try to follow the 3 steps that worked for me.
Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, physiotherapist or physical therapist. But I am an experienced personal trainer that experiences back pain and I’d like to share with you what worked for me. If you have tried the conventional methods to alleviate your back pain and they haven’t worked for you, you can try my routine. Just do it slowly and listen to your body. If any of the movements I share with you trigger your back pain, instead of relieving it, my routine is probably not for you.
Let’s get it started. Here’s my simple 3 Step Routine to “Fix” my Back Pain
Step 1. Trigger point massage using a foam roller or trigger ball.
Why trigger point massage? Giving yourself a trigger point massage (aka myofascial massage) is important before and after a workout to loosen your muscles and encourage better circulation in the injury prone area. It will also help the tight or strained muscles to “release” thereby giving you immediate pain relief. If your back is really stiff, you should spend 5-10mins doing this every day.
Instead of giving you a lengthy description of how to do your own trigger point massage. I will show you how to do it in this video
To get your own foam roller just click HERE
I use a tennis ball and a lawn hockey ball (which is quite hard) in my video.
You can get proper trigger point therapy balls HERE
Step 2. Mobility stretches to promote flexibility. (You will need a heavy-duty resistance band)
Your back is connected to a lot of muscles and your hip joints. If these muscles are tight and your hips are inflexible they can cause stress on your spine and you will feel back pain.
Making sure you stretch and keep these muscles and joints (I’m mainly talking about your quadratus lumborum and your hips) healthy, mobile and flexible will go a long way to avoid back pain. But how to do this?
Watch my video here:
Step 3. Strengthen the muscles “connected” to the back.
Ok, some of these muscles aren’t connected “directly” to the spine. But if these muscles are weak, your body will compensate and will use your injured back to perform the movements required for our day to day activities.
I’m talking about your core (front and back) your glutes and your hamstrings.
Sadly, most of the conventional exercises to strengthen the muscles above (like sit ups, squats and deadlifts—which were my favorite) will no longer work, because it causes too much pressure on the spine. But I have found some exercises to “replace” those exercises.
Watch my video here to find a variety of exercises you can do without “loading” your spine.
The first exercise will focus a lot on the hips and the outer thighs. Use bigger and stronger bands once you get stronger. You can purchase your own set of bands HERE
So that it! My 3 Step Routine to “Fixing” (lower) back pain.
If you have back pain and you would like me to make a training program that won’t injure or hurt your back further. Contact me by filling out the form below for a free online training program specifically made for you and your personal situation.
Looking forward to hearing back from you.
If you like this post please subscribe to my blog and share 😀