Low back pain is one of the most invasive, pervasive and expensive health issues in our society.
It is amazing how many motions and activities can be limited by your back. You won’t appreciate how much you use your back until you can’t use it. Most people won’t appreciate it until they can’t get into and out of a car without pain, or they can’t get out of a chair without pain, or they can’t walk more than 20 feet without pain.
It is estimated that 80% of all people will get low back pain at one time in their lives. The greatest predetermining factor for having low back pain is having had it in the past. This means that if you have had it, then chances are that you will get it again at some point again in the future.
The general course for back pain is that if you don’t manage it, then flare ups will occur more frequently and become more debilitating as time goes on.
I have had patients who were having bad back flare ups 3 to 4 times per year, with the flare ups lasting from 2 days to 2 weeks, and with severe, debilitating pain that brings the person to their knees. But if the patient can manage their symptoms and take care of themselves, then they can reduce their back flare ups to 1 time per 3 to 4 years, and with mild to moderate severity.
This is because the less irritated your muscles are (looser, stronger, stabile), the less likely they will be to become injured during traumatic events such as slipping and falling.
I always like to say that the causes of back pain are multi-factorial, meaning that there are many causes of back pain.
Factors that affect back pain are: past history of trauma (osteo-arthritis usually forms in areas of previous injury), past history of contact sports, past medical history, genetics (some people are structurally predisposed to have back pain because one leg bone can be longer than another, etc), activities of daily living (everyone has repetitive daily activities that make them susceptible to back pain), working habits and patterns, current activities, exercising, nutrition, stress, and there are many other factors that contribute to back pain.
How we manage our bodies on a daily basis will affect the intensity and frequency of back flare ups.
Just like you can get sore from working out a few days after exercising (called the DOMS, or Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness), you can get sore days after sitting in a car for hours. Irritation and inflammation build up over time. It slowly accumulates to make you susceptible to injuring a muscle at a later date while doing some benign motion like bending over to tie your shoe or coughing. It wasn’t bending over or coughing that threw your back out, it was the hours and hours spent sitting at your desk or driving or doing some other activity that slowly irritated your back and made you susceptible to injuring it while doing some minor activity. That minor activity wasn’t the cause, it was the straw that broke the camel’s back.
This irritation slowly and insidiously builds up over to time to make you more likely to injure your back. This irritation makes you more likely to suffer a traumatic event such as falling. This build up of irritation will also cause the effects of that fall to be more serious and more painful.
This is symbolized in a few studies that I like to tell my patients about. The first one is that a study proved that the most common cause of traumatic spinal injury (fracturing a vertebrae, severing the spinal cord, breaking a hip, etc) in those over age 65 is from falling. It used to be from car accidents. Ok, that is interesting but doesn’t tell us that much.
Extrapolate that study one step further and it gets interesting. Another study proved that the leading cause of falling in those over age 65 is from a lack of hip mobility. This lack of hip mobility slowly builds up over time to make you less mobile, stiff, and sore. This makes it harder to move and to balance, eventually making you more likely to fall and injure yourself. Once you injure yourself, you will never be the same again.
So how can you prevent low back pain? By far the best way is through proper exercising and healthy eating. Exercising will keep your muscles strong and stable. A good strengthening routine coupled with a stretching routine will keep your muscles, joints and ligaments strong, loose and stable. The stronger and looser the muscles are, the more capable they are at dealing with the stresses of daily life.
The trick is though, doing the right exercises correctly. Unless you have training in health care or physical fitness, you should not know which exercises to do, and how to do them.
As you age, you want to exercise in a way that is easy on your body. Life is painful enough, don’t cause more pain through improper exercise. Unless you are looking to get big muscles, or training to be a professional athlete, or young and not in pain, then you don’t want to go hard and participate in an extreme exercise system such as crossfit, p90x or insanity.
If you haven’t exercised in years, are in pain, have osteo-arthritis, have osteo-penia/ porosis, are deconditioned, overweight, or suffer from any other health issues that can make it hard to exercise, then Pain Free Lifestyle is for you because you want to go easy with exercise. Don’t harm yourself. The old adage of no pain, no gain, does not pertain to you, especially as you age.
Exercise in a way that is sustainable. If you are running and doing other high impact, high intensity exercises, then it will only be a matter of time before you injure yourself. There are always exceptions to the rule, because everyone is so different. Just because your friend can do a high intensity and high impact exercise routine, doesn’t mean that you can, or should be able to do it.
Some people have good parts and can withstand the rigors of vigorous, high intensity and high impact exercising. These people are few and far between. Just like some of us have the balance, dexterity and quickness to become a professional athlete, some of us can withstand the impact and pounding from hard exercise. Most of us though, will not be able to withstand the rigors of high impact and high intensity exercising, just as most of us cannot become a professional athlete.
If you are not a professional athlete, then train for real life. Exercise to strengthen your low back so that you can withstand the rigors of golfing and gardening and anything else that life may throw at you. Strengthen your entire body so that you can lift your children or grandchildren, or lift luggage into an overhead compartment. Increase your endurance so that you can run around after your children or grandchildren.
Training for real life and real world stressors doesn’t take much. It doesn’t take spending an hour a day 5 days a week in the gym pumping heavy iron. All it takes is consistency. Consistency with exercise, stretching, and aerobic activity.
If done consistently, it will keep your body loose, strong and stable. It will do this without causing injury. It will keep you moving for years to come.
Healthy eating will also contribute to reducing back pain. Eating the right types of foods will reduce inflammation that is present in your body. It will take the edge off of pain and irritation. The less inflamed your body is, the less likely it will be to become injured.
Exercising and healthy eating work together to keep the healthy, comfortable and will reduce pain. It will give you the best chance possible of being able to age gracefully and be independent as you age.
The Pain Free Lifestyle program is set up to easily be followed at home. It is set up to be done with light hand dumbbells. It is the correct, easy on the body exercises for you that will not create pain and injury. These exercises I hand-picked because they have been proven to be easy on your body and will not create pain or injury. Pain Free Lifestyle takes you from not exercising at all and not watching what you eat, to exercising in a sustainable way and eating healthy.
If you are in pain, overweight, obese, haven’t exercised in years, deconditioned, hate exercising, have any type of arthritis, have osteo-penia/ porosis, or suffer from any other condition that might make exercising difficult for you, then Pain Free Lifestyle is for you. Pain Free Lifestyle is designed for people like you. It is not designed for ripped, lean people with 6 pack abs to get into better shape. Pain Free Lifestyle wants you if those extreme exercise systems are too much for you. If you don’t want to exercise in a gym for any reason, then Pain Free Lifestyle is for you.
Exercise easily on your body. Low impact and low intensity exercising is the way to go if you want to maintain your body as you age. Be intelligent about exercising. Exercise smarter, not harder. This is the Pain Free Way.