Monthly Archives: July 2016

Is Chronic Back Pain Affecting You?

Personal Training in YOrk

What if I told yo that in less than 12 weeks, I could fix your back pain and give you a 10 minute preventative daily routine to stop it coming back? Would you be interested?

Back pain is the UK’s leading cause of disability. Almost 31 million days of work were lost last year due to back, neck and muscle problems, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS). The most common area for back pain is the lower back (lumbar spine), followed by the neck (cervical spine). Many of the current problems come from professional people like you, spending too much time at your desk.

“Sitting is the new smoking.’

I have got a lot of experience of back pain, both in terms of suffering from it and from successfully eliminating it from my life and the lives of many of my clients. I am going to share my considerable experience with you, because most back pain is both avoidable and treatable by you, without any need for medical intervention.

The Podfit philosophy is to build a strong core and then to build strong muscles (including the heart) around it.

Back pain includes sore muscles and tendons, prolapsed (‘slipped’) discs, fractures and other problems affecting the back. Back pain can develop over a long period of time, or can result from an accident or heavy lifting. Other serious back conditions involve the abnormal curvature of the spine and are labelled as scoliosis.

I have a condition known as functional scoliosis. I live my life 99% back pain free

When I was a teenager, all I ever wanted to do was play professional football and I signed for York City Football club at 13. About a month after signing, I broke my leg playing for my school, Thirsk, in an away fixture at Stokesley. Its one of those moments I can recall like it was yesterday and it was to be one that shaped my life and indeed my spine. I broke both the bones in my lower left leg and the tibia was fractured on the growth plate. I had surgery to put the bones back into alignment and I was told that the leg might not grow properly because of the position of the fracture. However, 5 months later I was playing for York City’s youth team, I had a bright future ahead of me and I forgot about my leg, which had healed perfectly…..

I slipped a lumbar disc 3 times before I was 30, each one progressively more painful, resulting in more time off work than the previous one and by the time my left leg was officially diagnosed as being over 2 inches shorter than the right, I was in a lot of pain on a daily basis. Playing football of any kind was a distant memory. Eventually I had problems in my lower back and my neck and this resulted in a spinal fusion (see right). The fusion fixed my neck, but I still had lots of lower back pain and it was making my life difficult to enjoy to the full.

I was cared for by a great surgeon at Leeds General Infirmary, Gerry Towns, who told me to develop a strong core and began to research what this meant. Over a decade later, I have developed a comprehensive professional library for spinal health ranging from rehabilitation to strength, including a wealth of priceless core strengthening exercises and tips and strategies for mobilising the spine at work.

I know how common back pain in the community is: so many clients come for consultations at Podfit and talk about back pain of some sort. Some come only to have their back pain fixed, like Daphne

After suffering a bad fall which resulted in broken vertebrae and compacted discs I really struggled to live a normal life. I had physio and tried swimming and joined a gym, but nothing helped the back pain and with lack of exercise I put on weight. This went on for nearly two years until I was recommended to Neil at Podfit. He has turned my life around, he is not only a superb personal trainer, he knows first hand about back pain and nutrition. Since my first appointment three months ago I have lost almost one and a half stone but more importantly, I am 99% pain free. I can now go out and walk for hours instead of looking for seats every ten minutes. He has supported me totally and I feel he has given me my life back. I can recommend him for anyone who needs to be fitter.

How to begin the healing process if you have a back injury

When and how to start exercising depends on 4 main factors:

  • How recent the injury was.
  • The nature of the injury (disc, fracture, muscular, nerve, where on the back, surgical intervention or not).
  • The type of rehabilitation taken.
  • The confidence of the client in exercise.

The first thing I would consider is to think of your back pain as the effect of lots of aspects of your life and do not isolate it to the fall you had or specific point at which your back pain started. Back pain ranks high on the list of self-inflicted ailments. Most of our back troubles happen because of bad habits, generally developed over a long period of time. These bad back habits include:

  • Poor posture
  • Overexertion in work and play
  • Sitting incorrectly at the desk or at the steering wheel
  • Pushing, pulling and lifting things incorrectly.

Look at your lifestlye and take action in every area possible. For example, lose weight if you need to. Have you every carried a backpack? Ever been pregnant? If you are overweight, you are putting unnecessary weight on the spine and you really need to be as light as possible.

Following a structured diet will not only help you to lose weight, it will also help fight inflammation and the right foods can help other areas of you life to support back recovery such as improved sleep patterns.

Tips For Exercising With A Bad Back

Learn how to mobilise the spine. Don’t make the mistake that sitting or lying still is going to fix you in the long term, its going to make things worse. You might have to lay still for a short period of time for some really bad disc bulges and its important to listen to your body, however, at some point, you are going to have to break through the pain barrier and get moving again. When I first really learned how to manage my back pain, getting up after a night’s sleep was really painful. But the more frequently I forced myself up for an early morning walk, followed by a proper mobilisation workout, the less severe my morning back pain became, until, eventually, it disappeared. Two really important exercises are the pelvic tilt and the child’s pose.

Learn how to engage the core. The core is comprised of layers of muscle on your stomach, back, and butt, which support your pelvis and spine. These muscles work as a team to keep your posture tall and your back safe from any strains that can cause pain or injury. Engaging your core is different than sucking in your tummy. Lie on the floor with your knees bent and your feet flat to the floor. Imagine bracing your stomach muscles as if you’re going brace for a punch in your gut. They should feel rooted and secure. Now, at the same time push you back into the floor as hard as you can. Your spine is now stable and the core is engaged.

Get up early and exercise the spine every day for the rest of your life. It’s pretty simple this one. It’s your back. Its your life. Your health is the most important aspect of your life. Back pain can make your life a misery and it’s entirely avoidable. Your choice…

Use a foam roller. If you haven’t got one of these at home or at work, then it’s time you spent £30 on yourself today. Discovering this was a major breakthrough for me and I have purchased lots of these for my clients We use trigger point foam rollers.

When you are going to the gym to exercise, leave your ego at home. Its really important this one. Form is everything if you have a bad back. Squat with no more than 25-50% body weight and concentrate on engaging the core and squat with slow concentric and eccentric movement (slow down, slow up!). If you are crying out loud, “squat? I cant squat with my back, I can barely sit down”, then you need to look at the rehab phase and learn how to really mobilise the spine first, but I had Daphne squatting in 6 weeks, with weight. I had Daphne squatting because its actually a really good exercise for engaging and strengthening the core, when its done properly.

Progression needs to be slow, but steady. If you are prepared to work daily then you will make progress. You will be amazed how much progress you will make in a month with 20 minutes a day.

Use a lower back expert to get you started if you are in any way not sure that you are doing the right thing.

If you have been suffering for a long time and you haven’t managed to fix this with the help of your GP and associated services, or if you have only recently had a back injury, but you want to know how to make sure it doesn’t lead to a lifetime of suffering, then I can help, using a proven programme, which will lead to a lifetime free of back pain.

Podfit Back Pain Management Course

  1.  Postural analysis and correction
  2. Rehabilitation and stabilisation programme
  3. Core strength and fitness programme

Corrective diet planning to reduce inflammation, build lean muscle and drop fat.

If you or someone you know is suffering, but you’re not quite ready to seek professional help, the exercises below will get you started on the road to a pain free lower back. I hope you find them and indeed this article useful.