So, “bad backs” are very common. ¬†They are probably 50% of the reason for new visits into chiropractic offices. ¬†It is actually the reason why I am a chiropractor. ¬†17 years old, back was going bad, hurting during hockey practice, and built up to a point when (three months post auto accident), I was put on the floor for about four days without moving besides crawling. ¬†I saw a chiropractor shortly after that episode, and my life was changed. ¬†I was 24 at the time.
I am now, acutely aware of what it takes to make a back strong, and keep it strong, though at times, simple rest is the answer. ¬†Certain injuries require a time of rest, and that time of rest varies based on MANY factors. ¬†But the thing that I want to write about (because I am sitting here in pain right now, more in a bit), is when the very thing that insures your backs future, ends up being the cause of short term pain. ¬†What to do next?
So today I head off to the gym after church. ¬†I had the girls with me all weekend, so the plan was get in quick, do a few heavy lifts (squat, shoulder press, dead-lift), and get out. ¬†I went in and worked up with four warm-up lifts on the dead-lift. ¬†The weight will seem heavy if you aren’t in this world, but the last succesful lift I did was 405#. ¬†Then I jumped up to what would have been a 30# PR (personal record) and attempted 495#. ¬†I missed the lift. ¬†No back pain. ¬†475#, near miss. ¬†Waited and tried it again, missed it worse. ¬†Then dropped back to a very safe and “easy” 455#. ¬†On the pull my back said “NO”!
So I stopped there, abandoned all other lifts, and cleaned up. ¬†Now the question, what do you do when you hurt your back doing something that strengthens the back? ¬†My answer, is you do more. ¬†But when, how, and how do you know to do more? ¬†If you hurt your back doing abdominal crunches on a machine at the gym with a weight bar across your chest, I would tell you to stay away from that ridiculous machine for the rest of your life. ¬†So it is obviously not going to be that easy at times.
The key to understanding this, is to understanding the goal. ¬†Quick rewind, your spine is the vine. ¬†Your brain reaches everything through it, so there is a relationship that is based on the ability of your spine to first carry messages to your muscles, and to organize their coordinated contraction, their tone, and their responsiveness to stress. ¬†This is an amazing component of the healing process, intricate and beyond full understanding. ¬†Many things have to come together to truly be OVER the problem of a bad back.
Currently I live episode free for about five years. ¬†I have had bad pain, but nothing that was a true episodic acute meltdown (several days of non-functional living). ¬†Even though the pain I feel right now is pretty significant, I know that I will be adjusting tomorrow without too much issue, and by Wednesday will feel comfortable going right back after that heavy lift. ¬†Healing is a combination of strengthening the back, while insuring that it is in the right position (adjustments). ¬†I have met many people with extremely strong backs, and really bad back pain (need adjusting). ¬†And I have met people with really well adjusted spines, but little neuro-muscular connection (need strengthening).
My recommendation for all of you, is to consider starting a program that will strengthen your whole body functionally. ¬†I hate machines, I think that moving within the confines of a machine make no sense. ¬†It takes skewing reality to “buy into” the idea that isolation exercises somehow best builds strength for compound movements… when the compound movements are available for you to do! ¬†So if you are a patient, try Max T3 in our office for $50 a month, it is well worth it. ¬†Otherwise consider buying the DVD’s on the Maximized Living website¬†or looking up our CrossFit gym.
Second, stay adjusted. ¬†It only takes one poor movement on a subluxated spine to set you back a year or more. ¬†We all want health, your spine is your health because of the nervous system; then it is a significant component of your health because it is the physical point of stress for all movement and muscular action. ¬†It is HUGE.
So, go out and get it strong! ¬†Be well, have a great week! ¬†– Dr. E