Your body is such a wondrous, beautiful, and resilient system.
One of the many things that makes it so is its ability to protect itself through neurological and compensatory strategies.
If you are trying to remove back pain, then it’s best you first understand how your pain came to be in the first place.
Now, there is a long list of reasons why anyone might have back pain, all are good enough reasons to me… as you do have back pain, after all… so no matter how minute it seems, it is a powerful enough driver.
I can tell you firsthand the widespread pain and suffering that accompanies physical pain, particularly back pain.
I suffered from it for years, mainly due to my unorganized and imbalanced training routines but also because I didn’t know how to take care of my body (yet).
Once I learned what pain was and how I could develop a relationship with it, and then take action towards removing it from my life, I wasted no time doing exactly what was needed to make that a reality.
As I write to you today, I experience zero pain and I weight train 4x per week, train Brazilian jiu-jitsu, run triathlons, work long hours as a Personal Trainer, and spend long hours seated in front of a laptop running my business.
I’m pain-free because I learned how to manage pain, my pain. First, by learning what pain was.
So what is pain and where does it come from?
Pain is a signal sent from the brain to a specific part of the body that it believes has been compromised, that is under threat.
This signal – pain, that is – is meant to capture your awareness, to steal space within your mind. This is because your (subconscious) brain is trying to communicate with you, your conscious brain. What better way than to create a nagging, sharp, sometimes awful pain?
If the pain is bothersome and feels like a nuisance, congratulations, it’s succeeding in its job.
You are now responsible for taking action to correct the cycle of pain you’re experiencing. You do this by (re)building trust in the afflicted region – which, in this case, and in the case of over 40% of adults, is your lower back.
Start by asking powerful questions:
1. So how do you rebuild trust?
- By letting the brain know the area is safe.
2. Who or what needs trust between them?
- Your brain and the joint, muscle, and nerves in the area of affliction.
3. How is trust-building accomplished?
- Consistent, daily inputs. This mostly consists of movement-based interventions (strength training, walking, mobility, respiration drills, etc.). I often say, “small doses, every day.”
You can rebuild trust in numerous ways.
- Reduce tension in the area (massage, rolling out, relaxation)
- Strengthen the muscles in and around the area
- Improve your postural integrity
- Increase your movement variability, meaning have more options in the way you move
- And many more
The common theme between any and all solutions available to you is this… you need to introduce safety.
The brain’s number one priority at all times is safety… survival… homeostasis. It wants to remain free from danger!
To bring the attention back to your lower back, how can you communicate to your brain that your lower back is safe and out of harm’s way?
Chances are it’s not medicine. That’s a Band-Aid.
Start by asking yourself, “What am I doing now that’s not healthy for my lower back?”
It could be that you are sedentary, that you sustained a bad injury, that you’re weak, that you have shit posture, that you tweaked it once and never addressed it properly so now you live “extra careful.”
The cause isn’t always the most important variable, but it can be, so find out what they are.
Then, it’s time to get to work.
- Strengthening the lower back through exercise communicates to the brain that it can handle heavier and heavier loads without pain or injury. Check.
- Introducing mobility and postural drills teaches the body to use the joints and muscles surrounding the lower back to do a better job at supporting it. After all, it could be that the lower back is overused and overworked. Build up the system as a whole. Check.
- Move. Stop sitting on your bum for 4–6 hours straight (or more for some) and go for a 10–15 minute walk, exercise, take the stairs, and park inconveniently. Movement is what our bodies were designed for and without it, we degenerate. Remember, use it or lose it. Check.
- Relax. The lower back tends to kick into hyperactivity when we’re stressed. Take a break from all the work and the devices for a change. When was the last time you sat down with yourself for any length of time? Distractions and stimuli are all around us. We need to consciously choose the opposite or we’ll never find calmness. Check.
These are a few ways to start addressing the issue of lower back pain.
Another way is to find a professional who can understand your unique situation and work with you toward a better future.
My final statement is this…
“Easy choices, hard life. Hard choices, easy life.”
Make the hard(er) choice of doing the above, living a healthier lifestyle, and developing a real relationship with your body and your pain.
Not the easier choice of a pill or gimmick promising quick, expedient relief. It doesn’t prepare you for anything. You’re just as unprepared for pain the next time it pops its way into your life and trust me, it will.
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