Back Pain, Back Strength!

Some of my mentors in the health field often gave me advice that was contrary to the Mainstream Thought on many topics. Back then, I even thought that some of that advice was a little nuts. It’s hard to understand the advice that is contrary to Mainstream Thought is actually closer to Reality when every so called “expert” is controlling the Mainstream. This is evident with the Mainstream Media coverage of the CoronaVirus. The real experts have pretty much told the media to shut up! Back Pain has also been a victim of this sacrifice to the Mainstream. Especially the chronic type of Back Pain. And you’re suffering because of it!

Generally, you’ll get back pain, then you’ll go and see the doctor. This is the Mainstream Thought. The doctor will tell you to get some bed rest and take some painkillers. Some progressive ones might even advise you to go and see a physiotherapist. You’ll have 30 sessions with the physio, they will give you “core” exercises, and some circus like act on a bouncy ball. They may even do “clinical pilates”. More on that later.

If that doesn’t work, you might go back to see the doctor, they will then send you to a “Specialist.” A fancy name for a surgeon. The surgeon will order a scan, and always find something wrong with your back. Because most people over 30 will always have some kind of spinal degeneration or condition that will show up on MRI, even in people with NO PAIN AT ALL! An ethical surgeon will probably tell you to go home and send you back down the rabbit hole. A butcher will operate, and now you’re actually stuck with a change in your back you can never reverse.

Disclaimer: This is for Educational Purposes Only

Let me take a quick intercession to inform you as to the nature of our advice. We are experienced, healthcare clinicians. We wish to share our experience with you on topics to do with your health. We may be a little colourful in doing so, but at the heart of what we do is in-the-trenches experience. Whilst we have achieved academic success and understand the evidence, we are not solely evidence-based. We are, however, EVIDENCE INFORMED. 

We find that the evidence is usually 10-15years (at minimum) behind what we are seeing in the clinic. We see real people, with real problems, and we’ve made a great living out of offering real solutions. 

If all you’re after is the researched evidence, you can find some on Google Scholar, or you can very easily look for more on Google. We want to give you real-life advice, most of which you may not find in the research.

There is no way that this document can replicate or replace expert assessment and guidance given by a qualified registered healthcare practitioner who has seen you personally. I am sure you’re aware that I have no knowledge of your personal medical history or how you take care of your body. If you require care from a qualified practitioner, you would be best served by seeing someone who can empathise with your situation and treat you accordingly.

I’m sure you understand that I disclaim any and all responsibility for anything you do as a result of reading this document. And by reading this article, you accept 100% responsibility for the actions of you or anyone under your care.

The Reality is almost all people over the age of 30 will suffer with Back Pain at some point in their life. And for most of those people, the pain will even be recurring. That’s largely because your spine is an upright structure, under compressive load. Compression adds force to anatomy in the back, like facet joints, nerve roots and spinal discs. If you keep adding force to these structures, over time, they will wear and tear.

This is a fact of life. I wish it weren’t true, but it is. It’s true because the same laws of physics that apply to everything on our planet, also apply to you. What is also a fact of life is that everyone has some sort of back degeneration, but not everyone suffers from back pain! So unless you’re an alien, get with the Reality of Back Pain prevalence, and also the Reality of a Back Pain solution.

The Reality of managing, if not solving Back Pain is unconventional, and sounds really stupid. If compressive loading on the spine causes the degeneration we all suffer from, loading your spine with squats and deadlifts sounds like a really stupid idea. But that’s exactly what you need to do. And after seeing many thousands of patients who suffer from back pain, me included, I’ve learnt that those who manage their pain really well, are generally stronger than those who don’t.

If we analyse this concept further it becomes apparent that stronger muscles are much better at stabilising the spine than weak muscles. They are also much more efficient at moving the spine than weak muscles are. And movement is important for overcoming pain. There are large muscles that do most of the work in the back and smaller muscles that do some work also. Isolating these muscles is a really bad idea. Why? Because it’s a waste of time. The body does not work in parts, it likes to function as a complete system. Squats and deadlifts present the most efficient way of stressing that system so you can get stronger. Not such a stupid idea after all!

Now before all the pilates instructors drop their Chai Tea and spam my email, their floor exercises and reformer gadgets do a very poor job of adding enough weight to anything, making nothing stronger. You’ll adapt to pilates and “core” exercises really quickly…within a few weeks. Squats and deadlifts ask you to both stabilise and strengthen your back. You can continue to improve these movements for many years. So hopefully, the pilates people continue sipping their tea and leave you alone to squat and deadlift.

Physical stress stregth

I am however aware of the fear factor. Once you’ve had back pain, you’re so afraid of doing anything that may aggravate it, you become complacent doing nothing. That approach will not help your back pain, it will just make you weak… and in pain. There should be a weight that is light enough to place on your back that won’t hurt you. Start there. And slowly and incrementally add a little more weight each time you train. You’ll gain strength over time.

In my experience, it works every time when done correctly. The pain is either gone within a month, or so reduced that it’s on it’s way out. “Done Correctly” obviously is an important part of this claim. This is where we guide you. We show you how to do the movement correctly and use good programming to slowly and effectively get you stronger.

If you’re strong, your back will spend less time in pain, experience a lower intensity of pain at significantly less frequency. But most importantly, strong people have learnt that back pain does not always equal damage. Strong people see pain as just a signal to their brain, asking them to slightly adjust what they’re doing. They perceive pain differently than you do.

One of the most important lessons taught in this strength journey, is that your back is actually not as screwed up as you thought. Although pain has physical triggers, it’s largely perceived in the brain. How you view that pain can either make the situation better or worse. Taking your squat from 30kgs to 100kg and your deadlift from 50kgs to 120kgs teaches you that getting out of bed, picking up your kids, mowing the lawn, normal human function, does not have to cause fear and pain.

Back pain for most of us goes hand in hand with an aging spine and basic physics. The Mainstream Though is to send you down a rabbit hole of passiveness, silly exercises, or even surgery. The Reality is that squats and deadlifts (done correctly) give you the power to manage, if not solve this problem.

If you feel that any of the information we’ve given you here resonates with you and you feel we are in a position to help, please BOOK ONLINE as we would welcome the opportunity. If you feel that we can help you in any other way, please reach out to us via our CONTACT PAGE.

Picture of Dr. Sami Karam, Osteopath

Dr. Sami Karam, Osteopath

I’ve been a qualified Osteopath since 2004. I’ve been playing football ever since I could remember and I have a passion for it. I’ve played at the highest level in the NSW State League at both Youth and Senior levels, and have also been Head Physician at numerous State League Clubs. I’ve travelled internationally and consulted with Sports academies in Barcelona and Italy. I have a special interest in Strength and Conditioning for footballers, as I believe it gives them an edge in their physical competition. My passion involves bringing all of this knowledge into every single treatment that I provide for all athletes. If you feel that I can help you and want to reach out to me, contact me.

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