80% of people will suffer from back pain at some point in their life
That’s not some random stat, it was published as far back as 1985 in the Scandinavian Journal of Rehabilitation Medicine.
But there’s an even scarier stat, especially if you currently suffer from back pain, which I’ll get to in a moment.
Back pain is something of a speciality of mine. Simply because I’m susceptible to it.
First time I got it was when I was warming up for a rugby match way back in 2001. I twisted wrongly and felt a twinge.
Continued on with the warm up. I was sub for the day and didn’t get to play. Probably a good thing.
Because then I went training during the week. Felt it go again. Tried to man up and get on with it.
Got home and seized up.
I literally couldn’t walk
I remember having to crawl to go to the jacks.
Back then I knew nothing about the body. Think I looked up the golden pages or something and got the name of a chiropractor. Yeah I know the golden pages, the actual book.
So I went to this chiropractor. Got adjusted and he told me to come back in 2 days. Went to him 5 or 6 times over the course of 2 weeks. Talk about a money making scheme.
But I kept asking him what exercises I should be doing. I knew I needed to strengthen up something. All he told me to do was go for a 10 min walk.
That’s when I took it upon myself to find out more. A mate of mine had done a personal trainer course. Sounded like something I might be interested in.
Little did I know it would turn into a full blown career, been named World Fitness Elite Trainer of the year 2013, co-authoring 2 international best selling books and opening up my own fitness centre.
Turns out hurting my back was one of the best things that ever happened to me.
But it was also debilitating. Not having that confidence in your back or body for that matter to be as active as you want.
And look I’m not 100% now, I doubt I’ll ever be. But I can still lift weights, stay fit and play with my nephews.
That’s all that really matters.
I know how to keep it strong
and what not to do
But what you might find surprising is I don’t do any of the usual recommended exercises.
In fact I’ve found most of the usual advice is utter horse shit.
I’ve had many clients come to me with back pain. They’d been given exercises to do but they didn’t work.
Some exercises made it worse.
They’ve had to give up playing their sport.
They struggled to play with their kids because of the pain.
And things like sitting or driving was absolute murder for their back.
I’ll give you some specific examples in a bit.
What’s wrong with the current advice?
To put it bluntly it doesn’t work.
Many people who go under the knife still have back pain after the op. So I’m gonna do everything I can to make sure I stay well away from surgery.
“…Although disc protrusions detected on X-ray are often blamed, they rarely are responsible for the pain, and surgery is seldom successful at alleviating it.”
That quote comes straight from the World Health Organisation
The problem with physiotherapy, and the core training they advise, is it doesn’t work either.
The studies show back
pain is not improved
by core training
So all that Pilates and ab work is useless? To an extent yes. Most of the pain reduction would happen with just rest.
The World Health Organiscation states…
“Acute back pain is the most common presentation and is usually self-limiting, lasting less than three months regardless of treatment…No single treatment is superior to others; patients prefer manipulative therapy, but studies have not demonstrated that it has any superiority over others.”
Interesting fact there is most acute back pain will resolve itself.
But what if yours hasn’t?
Or what if it leaves you feeling like you’ve a weak back?
Like you have to be very careful of it. In fear of injuring it again?
That’s no way to live your life.
Plus Pilates and core training won’t get you strong for things that require actual strength.
It’s all very well and good lying on the floor and feeling your core ‘working’ but what happens when you stand up, move, twist and turn, pick up heavy shit?
What if you want to get fit?
Or lose some weight?
Pilates and core training simply won’t give you the necessary function to do any of that.
All they do is make you good at Pilates and core training.
And the reason why?
Because core training is completely misunderstood.
- It’s not about your abs.
- It’s not about pulling your belly button in.
- Or imagining you need a piss.
For the simple reason your back pain may not have anything to do with those muscles.
Your back pain is unique to you
It is primarily caused by muscle imbalances. Certain muscles are too tight, some are too weak others are over working to compensate.
But to lump you in with everyone else and just say you need to strengthen your core is utter nonsense.
You need to know
- what to strengthen,
- what to stretch,
- and very importantly what NOT to stretch.
Stretching the wrong muscles could make you much worse.
Especially if those muscles are tightening up to compensate for a weakness elsewhere.
Releasing those tight muscles, which is what stretching aims to do, can release any stability you might have. And that can make you feel much worse.
Here are some examples…