I am of an era that grew up watching the likes of Sean Connery’s James Bond films and Clint Eastwood in spaghetti westerns (I had to use a film title in a blog at sometime).
These ‘Men of grit and steel’ laughed off pain and distress, with a few witty well placed one-liners.
And so I, as many people do (usually mostly males), grew up thinking we were invincible, and we would shrug off pain and discomfort and carry on.
But when I experienced significant back pain from lower back disc bulges in my teens, from years of competitive martial arts, I soon realised at a young age that I wasn’t invincible and I couldn’t simply shrug it off.
However, I did try and forget about the pain for over a decade. It was only when I was in my early 30s did I finally confront the issue full-on by seeing a C.H.E.K Practitioner, and finally sorted EVERY aspect of my health out!
How many of us are still trying to forget about the pain, which can take ultimate control over every aspect of our lives?
This blog looks into back pain and the different types of common exercise used to work with back pain.
Exercise is ESSENTIAL for true long-term back pain rehabilitation,
The trick is knowing what you need, as Paul Chek says: there is “no such thing as a bad exercise, just a poorly prescribed exercise”.
This is a term to condition the inner unit musculature of the abdominal area. The inner unit can be thought of as the entire torso, including the neck and shoulder complex.
However, very few personal trainers, osteopaths or physios actually know how to fully assess the core and condition it properly. In fact, many (including many Pilates styles) can do more long-term damage than good.
Core stability is NOT sit up exercises. In fact, these can definitely make back pain much, much worse.
It is not creating a huge tension in the abdominal area, lower back and neck and shoulders, and trying to suck it all in!
And it is not ANY exercise as long as it’s done on a Swiss ball.
Back Exercise Machines
I am a consultant to Virgin Active UK and we train personal trainers in many different aspects of advanced education, but many gym chains are not as forward thinking as Virgin Active. Some still have 90% of their gyms cluttered with expensive ‘fixed axis’ machines that create massive dysfunction.
Any exercise equipment that straps you in, or is a machine (with the exception of a cable free motion machine), will usually eliminate the need for the core musculature to even get a look in whilst exercising!
A back extension machine, for example, is one where you sit in (usually wearing a seat belt) and perform exercise movements to ‘condition the lower back’. These are very damaging for multiple reasons; one of the main reasons is that they condition the back muscles without the need to integrate any other movement in the entire kinetic chain.
That’s NOT how the body or nature works. It’s a throwback from body building and has virtually ZERO benefit for back pain.
I also have had to rehabilitate many patients over the years after chronic back pain who were exposed to ‘back pain group class exercise’.
These are a one-size-fits-all approach to back pain… which is akin to all makes of cars going to a specialised ‘one car brand’ dealer for repairs. It’ll work for that particular brand of car, but will be completely useless for others and could create more problems for other cars.
Back pain rehabilitation is exclusive to the individual!
Yes, there are many similar conditions, but over the last 15 plus years I rarely find any two patients with the exact same measurements, symptoms or rehab programme.
Free weights were seen as pretty un-cool in the 80s and 90s. Paul Chek was the person who brought it back to light in the late 90s and has developed much of the functional exercise movement that has grown over the last 25 years.
Of course Cross Fit as well as the Boot Camp craze have seen people experience the benefits of free natural movement whilst utilising free weight technologies. These can be great….
most C.H.E.K Practitioners will contest this.
We are now seeing a huge growth in exercise related injuries from people following these types of systems.
Again, it’s not that they are bad it’s just usually poorly prescribed and unfortunately badly executed.
The Take Home
If you have back pain or you work or live with someone who does then share this with them: your back pain is specific to you.
And so, it needs a high level of assessment BEFORE any type of treatment or exercise should be considered.
Don’t take the risk of just doing what someone else does; it may have worked for them, but it may have no effect on you and it stands a high chance of making your pain much worse!
Someone wishing to become a C.H.E.K Practitioner enters a 4 to 5-year commitment of advanced holistic health education, including-in-depth musculoskeletal assessments, holistic health coaching and back pain conditioning.
The majority of C.H.E.K practitioners start the CHEK education system already with degrees in physiotherapy, osteopathy or chiropractic, or hold high-level personal training certifications.
Want to learn more?
Arrange a call with me to discuss your own particular back pain issue on 01257 367 080.