chronic low back pain

Back hurt?

Makes you feel old?doesn’t?it? I hate feeling old.

chronic low back pain
A strong back can help with chronic low back pain

Unfortunately back pain, especially low back pain is pretty common. If you don?t want to spend a lot of your precious time feeling old and broken, you need to understand chronic low back pain treatment inside and out.

After more than 35 years as a back pain sufferer, I finally figured it out. And you can too.

What are the best chronic low back pain treatments?

That’s the question you want to answer. ?Actually you need to answer it if you ever hope to get control over your life again. There are two discrete areas for you to focus your attention and learn the facts:

  1. Acute pain mitigation. What do you do when your back is tweaked to get yourself back into a functional and pain-free condition quickly?

  2. Back pain prevention. The holy grail. What can you do to stop these recurring, unpredictable episodes of debilitating lower back pain?

How to administer chronic low back pain treatment that works

First, make sure you don’t have a real injury. If you have acute pain over a long time period, get it checked out. Read this post about how to remedy lower back pain. It provides step by step instructions guiding you through determining the severity of your back pain symptoms.

It is not uncommon to feel pretty intense pain when you first “tweak your back.” There have been times that I would swear something was really wrong in there. After a few days the intense pain subsides and you are left with nagging soreness, poor range of motion and fear of the next episode.

The best options I have used for mitigating a muscle spasm and regaining range of motion are:

  • applying direct heat to the area
  • massage
    • personal from a therapist or?masseuse?r
    • self?massage or
    • I have a motorized back massage device that works pretty well on the low and mid back areas. I use it sitting down in a chair to position the massage rollers to the desired area.
  • I have used muscle relaxers in the past but infrequently. They are prescription so require a doctor visit. If you are really cramped up in the initial days after injury, they may be a good option.
  • Some people advocate chiropractic and/or acupuncture sessions for muscle pain and specifically back pain. I have not had personal success with these therapies.
  • Similarly, you will find cheerleaders for ultrasound and nerve stimulation therapies for loosening muscles and relieving pain and soreness. I do not recommend these modalities either.

I define what is chronic back pain in this post and specifically discuss in detail the proven results of some therapies like heat and massage for example and the myths of others like chiropractic, acupuncture, nerve stimulation and ultrasound. Take a look and decide for yourself.

How to prevent chronic low back pain from recurring

Get your head on straight. Know the facts. Stop whining about your pitiful existence as a perennial bad back guy.

You don?t have a bad back. You are just freaking weak. Too much desk work, technology and poor lifestyle choices have left you weak and unable to fend for yourself.

And a weak back can easily be confused with a bad back. The good news is that a weak back can be fixed. A weak back can be transformed into a strong back. And that is all you really have to do.

  1. Step 1. Acknowledge you are weak.

  2. Step 2. Do something about it. I like to keep it simple.

Learn about how to lose back pain once and for all by building a strong back and core. This post outlines my 35 year history as a ?bad back? guy until ?found the real truth about my weak back.

Applying chronic low back pain treatment and knowledge to real life

Knowledge is power. Following is a real life example about how knowing what is really going on changes your thinking and the actions you take in a profound way.

I overdid in the gym a few days ago doing my back workout. Actually I believe that the combination of my last two workouts was what ultimately strained my low back. Here is what I did.

Five days ago I put together a full body workout consisting of:

  • a kettle bell swing and thruster complex
  • incline dumbbell chest presses
  • suspended knee ups
  • overhead presses
  • push ups

Here is the Kettle Bell Swing
Quite often I?ll just make up a workout as I get into it and then complete a few rounds. That is what I did this day. Here is a bit more detail on what I did and why.

The kettlebell complex was:

  1. 10 single handed swings
  2. clean the 10th rep
  3. and then perform 10 front squat/overhead press thrusters (single-handed)
  4. switch hands and repeat on the other side
  5. I did three rounds on each side in this continuous giant set
    1. so a total of 30 swings plus 30 single-handed thrusters on the right side
    2. and a matching combination on the left side

Why did I do this? This workout by itself is a full body exercise. The swings are a great pulling exercise using legs, glutes, core, back and shoulders while the thrusters are one of the best total body pushing moves engaging the the same muscle groups with the addition of the triceps.

This kettlebell complex took about 7 minutes to complete. And I was kinda pooped.

I added the dumbbell chest presses to get some chest work since the pecs were the only major muscle group not worked in the opening giant set. It also allowed to me to rest longer before trying another giant set.

Next I did knee ups by suspending my weight off the elbows and curling my knees up yo my chest. This is a core exercise. I would normally do this from an arm-hang position but my left shoulder is hurting and preventing me from hanging by my hands.

My original workout idea was to repeat this round of exercises for another two sets. Big plans but I?underestimated how much the kettlebell complex would take out of me.

So instead of starting round two, I picked up a barbell and did 20 reps of overhead presses for more shoulder work. And then got down for a set of 20 push ups hitting the chest, core and triceps.

Here is the Overhead Press

This also allowed me to rest a little longer before finally running through?the?entire circuit a second time. I did not attempt a third set. Two sets was all that the doctor ordered this day.

If you want a strong back, you gotta work the back

About 48 hours later I did a focused back workout. It went like this:

  • Straight leg deadlifts 15 reps

  • Bent over rows ?15 reps

  • Hang clean ?10 reps

  • Back extensions ?20 reps

I used the same weight for the deadlifts, rows and cleans starting with 95 lbs for set 1 and then 115 lbs for the next two sets. Back extensions were just bodyweight only.

Here is the Hang Clean

So three sets through this group of exercises and I was done. Felt pretty good. For a while that is.

The next morning was a little different. My low back was stiff and a little painful right in the spine area. It was similar to the low back trauma I used to randomly get before I learned how to prevent it:

Let me give you a little perspective. The pain and stiffness I?felt was not even close to the intensity of the pain I used to get prior to understanding the root causes for it and implementing corrective action. I?wasn’t?pulled over into a stoop and incapacitated like in the old days.

But it was sore and the pain felt structural. It felt like pain in the spinal column, not muscle pain.

If I?didn’t?know about trigger points, muscle pain and referred pain, it would have been obvious to conclude:

  • that I had injured my spine and /or discs
  • and something structural and serious was wrong with me.

Knowledge is the key

But I knew better. So what did I do?

I got out my trusty foam roller and self administered trigger point release therapy. I worked the low back, hips, glutes, hamstrings, mid back and outer thighs. I did this because low back trigger points are notorious for inducing referred pain. Even though it hurts in my low back right around the spine, the source of the pain is likely to be elsewhere.

So I massaged the usual suspects. And it worked.

I felt a lot looser afterward but more importantly, I noticed a huge improvement the next morning (this morning). I am not 100% pain free but my mobility feels really good and there is only a low level hint of yesterday’s lower back pain.

I?ll probably run through the self massage sessions twice today with the expectation of nearly knocking this muscle pain out for good.

Thoughts are a powerful thing. They shape what you feel, think and ultimately believe. A few years ago, the bad back guy thought he had a defective back that caused periodic and quite painful bad back events. There was no cure in sight.

The bad back guy finally realized he was a weak back guy and did something about it. His bad back events disappeared almost entirely.

Then the former bad back guy, now reformed as a strong back dude, learn about muscle pain and trigger point therapy. The missing piece of the puzzle falls into place. A new belief system has been built. And chronic back pain is a thing of the past.

Challenge your beliefs and create a new paradigm about what you think you know. “Seeing is believing” is an old cliche but sleight of hand or irrational thought can rule your mind.

Knowledge is believing. Get the facts. Know the truth. And live pain free (or mostly anyway).

 

If you know anyone suffering with recurring low back pain, share this post and maybe they can benefit.

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About the author 

Mark Fickler

Mark aka The Old Spartan and Over-50 Fitness Savior is a 64 year old coffee guzzling father of five wandering the outdoors around Albuquerque, New Mexico. Mark helps Active Boomers get lean, healthy and strong so they live rewarding, fun lives using his signature 2 Rule Easy Fat Loss training program.

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