I first hurt my back back in 2002/2003 and since then I have had problems with it.
I slipped a disc and I can attest to the fact that it is one of the most painful things that can ever happen to you.
I once asked a friend of mine, who’s had two kids and has also had a prolapsed disc what was more painful? Child birth, or the slipped disc? She didn’t hesitate and said, ‘a slipped disc!’
I’m not exactly the most slim person in the world, heck I’ll just come out and say it – I look like I’m pregnant – heck I look like I’m having triplets, 😆 and so generally there is a lot of pressure on my lower back at any one time.
At the end of 2012 I played in a badminton tournament in Belgium and I drove there and back at a total of 500 miles. By the time I got back I could tell there was something wrong with my lumbar area.
Early in 2013 I had to visit the dentist and as I got out of the chair, I felt something tweak. Later that week, I was at the office, and suddenly I was unable to walk. My back had completely gone and I was out of action for the better part of 3 weeks.
I couldn’t move. I was confined to my bed and any movement, no matter how slight, was agonising. The worst was if I ever needed to cough or sneeze. If that ever happened, I would literally scream out in pain.
I’ve been working hard over the past year to make my back stronger and everything I’ve been doing so far has been working. I can say now with absolute certainty that too much sitting down, and not enough exercise, are the biggest culprits of back pain. But, it doesn’t stop there. There is another big culprit, a way of thinking, that can do harm to your back. Even a slight change in thinking will make a huge difference.
So many of my peers are in the same boat. I have work colleagues who are struggling with their back. I have so many friends also have issues with their back and are struggling to recover.
Another nasty knock on effect from the trauma to the back is the kind of the thoughts that go along with it. Constantly repeating to yourself how bad or weak your back is, only makes it worse; just like I mentioned recently about the power of repetition.
The good news is you don’t need to break your back doing exercise in order to develop a stronger back. There are all sorts of fads and trends that crop up and although some a great, but fads can die really quickly and so you what you need are some things that you can easily integrate into your daily life. Some of my suggestions below do just that and others will require a little extra commitment on your part.
What you really need is an overall lifestyle and attitude change that won’t just be for the short-term, but something for life.
All of this comes down to weakness, muscular atrophy and lack of core strength. To turn things around, try a few of these suggestions. The impact of these, will be almost immediate!
As always – always consult your physician about any back issues and get a second opinion if you feel like you need to from a qualified Chiropractor.
Changing Your Self Talk
If you keep telling yourself and other people how bad your back is, guess what? It’s not likely to get much better. If you keep reinforcing the pain and telling yourself how bad it is, then it’s just going to stay that way. Change your thinking and in conjunction with some of these above techniques, start to tell yourself that your back is getting better. Talk to others about the improvement to your back and focus on that.
Be Out – STANDING
Over the last few years standing desks have become increasingly popular. I was in Stockholm recently where standing desks are common, or desks that can be raised or lowered depending on weather you choose to sit or stand. Standing is great and you really feel a difference, not only to your back but with the added side effect of improved concentration, greater alertness, and genuinely better productivity.
There is a slight caveat in that I don’t believe that standing for excessively long periods is good either, unless you’re moving around. If you’re stationary, keep moving. If you work at a desk, find a good chair but also move around regularly, get up, go grab a glass of water and keep active.
Walking is paramount to developing a stronger back. They say you should do around 10,000 steps a day; which equates to around 4-6km of walking. I say, aim for 15,000. I usually just about make it to 10,000 from walking to the train station in the mornings, to walking to the office, to taking a walk at lunch-time, and then walking home. Occasionally I throw in the odd bike ride to mix things up.
All of these combined will help to strengthen your back muscles and keep your back muscles strong.
Lads, your bad back is no longer a ‘get out of jail free’ card for not doing housework. Housework, will actually make your back so much stronger because of the varied movements associated with it.
When I was doing my de-cluttering projects last year, I noticed a profound difference in my back. It was so much stronger and agile and, I was totally pain free for a long time!
When I recovered from my back injury last year, I made an effort to stretch regularly. After finishing a session of badminton I would always do 3-4 different back stretching exercises.
I did quite a bit of research and experimenting to find what worked best for me. I found a great combo and after doing it regularly for a few weeks, I noticed a huge differently in my flexibility and core strength.
One of the best ones I found was one known as the Muslim prayer position. You sit on your legs with your heels at your bum, and stretch out in front of you arms on the floor as far as they will go with your head tucked into your knees. Repeat 2 or 3 times and hold for about 10 seconds each time.
Push-up (or shut up!)
Push-ups work just about every muscle in the upper body. If you can’t do anything else, make time to do some push-ups. It will mainly help to strengthen your upper back but will give you a good overall workout.
Many years ago I couldn’t even do a single push up, I had to do them on my knees, but I can now do the full ones and I’m now up to 10! Eat your heart out Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson! 😛
Another prime reason for back issues is weak abdominal muscles. So, as well as doing some push-ups, why not add in some simple sit-ups and/or crunches to make them stronger. A stronger abdomen will mean a better supported back.
Pilates is a good option for building core strength and making your back so strong that you could even give the Hulk a run for his money! But before you decide to go lift up a tank, I’d suggest starting with something smaller like a Mini-Cooper or something! 😆
Lastly, if you have continued issues, do all of the above and find a good chiropractor to advise you and give to receive treatment.
The few key rules here to stay active, keep moving and work some of these things into your day to day activity so that if going to the gym is not your thing, it won’t matter because you’ll be doing what you need to keep your back strong. Most importantly, don’t keep repeating and telling people how bad your back is. Do something about it, then tell people about the improvements.