It’d be too easy to avoid if it only happened when carrying heavy loads or doing something crazy. The unfortunate truth, however, is it can be triggered by something as innocuous as a sneeze, cough or the slightest mis-step.
Back pain sucks. For me, it all started innocently enough: My brother, whom I love dearly, challenged me to a wrestling match in the basement. Like any younger brother, I couldn’t let the challenge go untested. We were both young and foolish and so … Game on!
I’ll spare the the details, but I won the wrestling match but lost so much more. Shortly after we were done with our fun, all I remember is feeling nauseous and being really sweaty. My sibs later told me I stumbled my way to my bed just in time to black out.
And thus began my adventures in chronic back pain.
Oh youth how I miss thee …
If you’ve never experienced the immediacy of a surge of pain running through your back like a mac truck, you can skip this read. But if you’re like me or 80% of the population, you’ve probably experienced chronic back pain at some time in your life – or will.
I’ve lived with lower back pain for the past 20 years and pretty much thought that it was my lot in life. Maybe God’s punishment for letting my ego get the best of me so many years ago. Making menial tasks and play with the boyz a guessing game as to when the next episode of pain would come was no fun.
But then I stumbled upon this TedX talk by Dr. Eric Goodman:
I remember being struck by not only his personal story but his analysis of wrong movement patterns leading to back pain. This led me to his book: Foundation: Redefine Your Core, Conquer Back Pain, and Move with Confidence.
It wasn’t the many success stories that swayed me, but the mix of sound science and the fitness experts behind it. Besides, if it didn’t work, I was only out the cost of the book.
The big eye-opener for me was learning super-atheletes had the same lower back issues that plague us mere mortals. Somehow, knowing this gave me hope.
Don’t let the foreword done by much-maligned (and publicly disgraced) Lance Armstrong turn you off. The book is co-authored by his then-trainer and ultra-athlete, Peter Park, and chiropractor Dr. Eric Goodman.
The focus of the Foundation approach is strengthening and retraining of what they call the “Posterior Chain.” This includes the lower back, glutes and hamstrings. For me, this was revolutionary: I weight trained regularly but focused on the “glamour muscles” – chest, arms and shoulders. Looking back I was your typical “icecream cone” – top-heavy with sticks for legs.
Foundation: the Book Review
The book is a quick read and includes great illustrations demonstrating proper form, common mistakes and their prevention.
Based on simple but powerful movements, Foundation teaches proper weight loading and movement which comes in handy when doing everything from the mundane unloading of groceries to olympic lifts.
The exercises are simple, require no equipment, minimal space and are really effective at working the targeted areas. I should note that “simple” does not mean “easy,” especially for those of us with sensitive backs – I’ve worked up a sweat holding some of the “simple” poses.
After completing the program, I progressed to more advanced exercises, but doubt I would have gotten there without starting with this book as my Foundation (pun intended). Another wonderful benefit is better posture which helps no matter what you find yourself doing.
Now and then I still tweak my back and remind myself of my mortality. Whenever this happens, revisiting the Foundation exercises helps bring immediate relief and reminds me of the power of exercising the posterior chain.
I bought and recommend the enhanced digital iBook which includes 10 videos, the most useful of which are the exercises. I’m a visual learner and having the video guide with Eric’s great instructions helped immensely in preventing bad form and answered questions about technique. I highly recommend this or, better yet, the accompanying Foundation Training DVD to maximize your results.
Foundation’s exercise regiments won’t replace a good cardio or weight training session. But if chronic back pain is your nemesis, chances are cardio and weights are taking a back seat to your back issues. It’s definitely worth a try and will hopefully be your first step to a pain-free back.
Got back issues? Have success in back pain relief? Would love to hear what’s worked for you and what hasn’t.