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Ultimate Guide To Healing Back Pain

stop back painEver saw an old lady or man walking down the street all hunched down? 

Do you think that just “happens” because of “old age” ?

NO!

That happens because of habits kept over a long period of time.If you hunch every day for 80 years you get that, if you pay attention to the body you don’t. 

It is that simple.When you look at our evolution you will notice that we are a PEAK POINT IN HISTORY when it comes to SITTING DOWN AND STARING AT A SCREEN.We are constantly sitting, and not exactly keeping good posture.

Then we wonder why our backs hurt?  

1. Relax Your Face, Jaw, Eyes, Neck, Shoulder… Ahh

Because as soon as you think “relax the face“something happens automatically in the body… 
 
You REMEMBER that you have one.
 

I do these every time I remember, and immediately get to take a deep breath.

 
Try it and see, it might happen for you too, and as a reflex.  
 
If it doesn’t yet, don’t despair, simply add a big deep breath at the end.
 
And by big deep I mean just a good breath, no need to force anything.  We are talking about letting go of tension.
 
relax your jaw eyes neck back

2.- Check Your Posture

Are you respecting the normal curvature of your spine? Are you slouching? Is your neck protruding forward?  If so, accommodate and adjust, because the number one cause of injury to the back is how we sit for long periods of time.
 
The key to back health is to respect its normal curvatures.
 
It is that easy.
 
Respect the cervical, the thoracic, and the lumbar natural curve and you are ahead of the game.  
 
Lumbar Thoracic and Cervical curves
 
 
Just by reading this you are already more likely to NOT suffer from back pain.
 
Because when you remember to respect the curvatures you are setting the odds in your favor for health.
 
Think of it this way:
 
  • Lead with the chest, as you walk and seat, not with the neck…
  • Keep the back as straight as you can within normal life
  • Watch yourself when you are at the computer.
 
There are great resources to help us remember, for example:
 
You can get one of these lumbar support pillows
 
I have one at my desk and I love it because it helps me keep the lower back straighter than I would otherwise.   
 
It has been recommended by one of the pioneers in alternative back pain treatment (Robin McKenzie – see books below), and…
 
For the cost of a movie ticket and a snack I am investing in a healthy future back for as long as I live.

The interesting thing about the lower back curve is that as you straighten this area, the other two tend to FOLLOW

Try it and see for yourself.
 

3.- Beware When Driving

Driving is a dead trap for the back.

There I said it!

Even after all the ergonomic design advances on my 2013 model I still cannot drive more than three hours without feeling my back hurting.

I see people on the road and I cringe!

Some of them have their chins forward, overcompensating for the back being so slouched back.

Some never adjust the length for their legs and so they are forced to almost round their backs to reach the wheel.

When driving, it all comes down to awareness.

When you drive, be VERY CONSCIOUS of how you are treating your back.

Take usual breaks (every three hours max), and do the exercise I recommend in point four.

Because your back will thank you.

4.- Stretch the FRONT of the Body, Often

Because we are always sitting the front of the body is usually crunched, and we seldom give it an opportunity to stretch.  

I suggest you do this every hour.

YES, you heard that right… 

EVERY HOUR 🙂

Because your back needs to be healthy to support your brain so can become an idea machine!

Here is a SHORT video of the exercise… 

Notice the warning at the 1:33 minute mark

That DID happen to someone I know.  
 
So do stand up to do the exercise because I care for you.
 


Stand up, feet hip-with distance, put your hands behind you on the lower back, and stretch back as far as you can. Breathe there.  Then come back on an inhale.
 

The YOGA SECRET HERE is to INHALE AS YOU COME BACK UP.

 
Believe it or not THAT is counter-intuitive
 
As you try the exercise you will see…

But when you breathe IN as you come back up you are getting your whole body to collaborate because you are using the power of the inhalation, of oxygen coming into the body to re-align it, after stretching the front.

Stretching the front of the body HOURLY re-sets the back, and reminds us of the curvatures.

We get to respect the spine!

5.- If You Wake Up With Lower Back Pain

If you have intense pain in the lower back when you wake up, lay down on the floor, face down, and adopt a simple cobra position  [see photo by Thomas Broening, courtesy of this site].
 
 
Notice that it is a SIMPLE cobra pose, elbows on the floor.
 
Then relax the lower back and stay there for a while.
 
This is the FIRST AID exercise recommended by McKenzie for acute lower back pain repair.

It is the go-to first thing to do if your lower back ‘goes’…

You do need to repeat it again and again during the day.
 
I’ve personally tried it and it works.  McKenzie has 7 other exercises in his book to do after this, and they all involve a gently curving of the back and a gentle counter-curving of it.
 
A stretching of the front of the body and then a stretching of the back of a body… Just like we do in good yoga classes.
 
Remember to BREATHE.
 
Breathing and good alignment is key to restoring the back to health.

6.- Right Breathing is Key

Many of us pay no attention to the breath…  We take it for granted because why not?

Check this out…

Yogis measure their life-span in BREATHS rather than in years.  Who said that? I did, because I noticed… 

I don’t have a Harvard research backing me up but just look around…

Do you have a cat or a dog? Did you notice how fast they breathe?  and how long do they live?  not that long….

On the other hand, turtles (of special kinds) that breathe very slow get to live hundreds of years!!!

The back cannot function well if the “THREE PART BREATHING” is not in place.

And the three-part breathing also helps us live longer, so it is a DOUBLE WIN!

I made a podcast (see below) so you can learn this exercise to the sound of a drum.

It is very easy AND EXTREMELY RELAXING so be careful…. You may fall asleep.

Whenever I offer this exercise at workshops people tell me they LOVE IT.

Try it once and you will see how easy it is to become aware of breathing into all parts of your torso.
 

7.- Take A GOOD Yoga Class

I know it is not easy finding a good teacher, I am as disillusioned as you are with the amount of b/s and fluff on the internet about people who call themselves yoga teacher when in fact they are just “only more experienced in asana”…

 
So, finding a good instructor maybe difficult.  It requires instinct, good rapport, and more importantly SEE IF THEY FOCUS ON THE BREATH.
 
Any instructor worth its weight will make breathing the priority… If there is forcing, of any kind, or abuse of any nature… get out of there!
 
But if you do find a good instructor that you click with, then you are in luck.
 
I’ve been interviewing amazing teachers I find around the world for my yoga podcast, check them out.  
 
Why a yoga class?


Because a good yoga class un-does the damage we inflict on the body by poor breathing and bad posture

8.- Lift Heavy Object By Bending Your Legs

When that Amazon package arrives think twice!

Or, for example, when taking things out of the trunk of your car:

Bend your knees as you lift heavy objects, because that way you leverage the weight within your body as it goes through a powerful exertion

Your back will thank you.

 

9.- NEVER talk on the Phone by Placing it Between Ear and Neck

Don’t do that because you will cause the neck to strain and then later you may wonder why it hurts.  Now you know.

If you need to multi-task (I recommend not doing that as the brain simply cannot do it), then put it on speakerphone.

When you put the phone between your ear and neck you are causing the equivalent damage as if a tornado, a tsunami and an earthquake hit your back… No kidding.

 

10.- Financial Problems Cause Back Pain

When you have financial stress the mind, clever as it is, will organize the biology of your body so that blood does not reach the supporting tissues around your back…
 
How smart of her right?
 
YOUR MIND WILL STAGE A COUP AND CAUSE BACK PAIN!

Can you believe that?

This was of course discussed by Dr John Sarno in his book “Healing Back Pain
 
The book made it so big that Howard Stern himself recommended it in his ultra popular radio show.
 
This is why I am putting it in the recommended books.
 
Because the stress of financial problems creates a diversion, so that we believe we have back pain, because the body knows we are not ready to deal with the financial issue mentally.  
 
So, if you resonate with this:

Make a plan, talk to someone, find a way to start dealing with financial issues, because that way you will avoid future back pain.

11.- The Yoga Pose Endorsed By The Mayo Clinic

I usually get a chuckle when something yogis have been using for over three thousand years appears as a “new discovery by science”

That is the case with “shalabasana” a popular and easy posture from yoga which can help prevent back pain. 

 

When the clinic recommends it they suggest you put a pillow under your stomach…
 
That might help in the beginning as the trunk really is supporting all of your body, but eventually you get used to it.
 
The good thing about this posture as you can see is that the whole spine is lit up…
 
Every supporting muscle HAS to engage.
 
So doing this posture and breathing in it daily can be a blessing for the back because it tones all supporting engines.
 
Oh and one more thing! 
 
Come to my workshop on PREVENTING BACK PAIN: April 11th At Sky Baby Yoga and Pilates in beautiful Cold Spring, NY (2PM-4:30PM) –  
 
You can call them 845-265-4444 to register.

Resources

For a short yoga class you can do in the morning use this video, o este en Castellano

For a 30 minute class with the minimum viable poses needed to stay healthy use this

Healing Back Pain, By Dr. Sarno – This is the book Howard Stern recommended and in it he goes over how financial stress is sometimes the cause of acute back pain attacks.

Treat Your Own Back by Robin McKenzie: This amazing little book has all the seven exercises you can do on your own whenever back pain appears.  It is simple and easy to follow, and the best part is that it works.

Treat Your Own Neck by Robin McKenzie – Also with seven short and easy exercises to treat acute neck pain.  Of course, nothing beats prevention as per the post you read here, but if it strikes, these work…  Although, I will say I had better luck with the previous book than with this one… The neck is a lot more delicate, so take care of it.

The McKenzie Roll – Design by him and his team this is what I use at my desk to ensure that the lower-back stays in place (as much as possible) and then the rest of the spine follows its lead…

Pain Free by Pete Egoscue – This book has gotten a lot of attention lately, and so has Egoscue and his method.  I found the book to be relevant and helpful, but it does have too many exercises, which compared to McKenzie (above) makes it seem more cumbersome, more like I would need to go to one of his classes.  

Email me (see the right bar of this site) if you have questions.
And try this short sequence of 7 poses that will help you ease back pain right now.

You can also click to enlarge the infographic below…  You could print it and keep it near your area of work…

BackPain-IG-1-01

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