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Finding Lower Back Pain Relief

January 5, 2013

I have been challenged with low back pain for years. Through diligence and about 7 minutes a day, I have developed a daily routine that has almost eliminated my low back pain. Here’s my story.

While mountain biking a few years ago, I crashed. Not a spectacular crash by any stretch of the imagination. Truly, I have had better crashes. I completed the rest of the ride without incident but woke up the next morning in pain and unable to walk. The doctor (a good friend of mine) diagnosed me with a ruptured disc in my lower back. Through a combination of rehab and epidural shots, I was able to control my pain. There was a period where I was getting epidural shots at one to two year intervals. The epidurals brought instant relief but over time, the relief would wear off and I would need another shot.

This limited my physical activities. I couldn’t dragon boat or paddle oc1. Mountain biking was out of the question and I was apprehensive when swinging a golf club (this led to disastrous golf scores).

I began searching for a better way. At a paddling clinic, the instructor referenced in passing a Canadian doctor that did a lot of research about lower back pain (by the way, I could not participate in the paddling portion of the clinic because my back hurt). During a break, I cornered the instructor and inquired more about the doctor. The doctor’s name is Stuart McGill and I quickly purchased his book Low Back Disorders, Second Edition. It’s not the most friendly read (in fact, it’s like a science textbook) but I learned so much about back pain – why and how it happens and how to manage it.

After reading Low Back Disorders, I purchased Dr. McGill’s second book, Ultimate Back Fitness and Performance. Both of these books are pricey but they are worth their weight in gold if you are serious about wanting to reduce your back pain. If you need to get one, get Low Back Disorders, Second Edition.

Two critical things that I learned: first,the position that provides the most relief is what many refer to as the cobra position (laying face down propping yourself up on your elbows). Before reading this book, I thought that was the worst position to be in. To this day, you will see many LARDies in this position during workouts and races for this very reason. Second, we should not wait until injury to take care of our backs. There are fundamental things we need to do every day to protect our lower backs from injury.

Armed with what I learned from Dr. McGill, I put together a nightly routine that I do while watching TV or after my workout. I do it religiously, ever night, regardless of if I worked out or if it was race day.

Since incorporating these workouts I have lived pain free for 3 years without the need for another epidural shot(knocking on wood) and have resumed all of my physical activities including paddling, mountain biking, and golf.

I have shared these book with quite a few of my LARD teammates and some have been able to find relief. I hope you can find it as well. No one deserves to have to suffer through that kind of pain.

(full disclosure: the Amazon links above are affiliate links so if you buy the books, Amazon will kick me a few pennies.)

oc1, Long Beach, CA

6 Comments leave one →
  1. January 7, 2013 5:03 pm

    Can you share your routine?

    • effectivepull permalink*
      January 7, 2013 6:13 pm

      Here you go:

      On hands and knees on yoga mat – extend right hand forward while extending left leg back. The only points of contact w/ ground are your opposite hand and leg. Hold for a count of 6-8 seconds, bring arm and leg back to ground so all 4s are back on the mat. Rest for 1-2 seconds, re-extend same arm and leg. Do this for a total of 15 reps, then switch the arm and leg you extend for another 15 reps.

      Next do a straight plank on your elbows hand pressed forward. Hold for 6-8 seconds, then go into cobra to rest for 1-2 seconds. Do 15 reps of this.

      Stare at the mat and really feel the stretch during the plank portions of the exercise above.

      The key is the short durations of the sets so don’t extend the sets beyond the prescribed times (i.e. 30 seconds is NOT better than 6 seconds).

      I do this every single night. EVERY SINGLE NIGHT. I usually do it while watching TV.

      Good luck. Back pain sucks. Hang in there.

      • January 7, 2013 6:24 pm

        My wife has been suffering from lower back pain for the last year. She has gone to a few doctors and everything they do only provides temporary relief. I’m hoping this helps her in a more permanent way like it did to you. Will definitely be ordering the Low Back Disorders book for her as well. Thanks for sharing.

  2. effectivepull permalink*
    January 7, 2013 6:29 pm

    Good luck and all the best!

  3. February 5, 2013 6:35 am

    An informative article you posts here. I likes it. I was a patient on back pain and now I am free from it.

  4. sonjeffnguyen permalink
    February 6, 2013 1:51 pm

    This is great, Scott! I have always had excruciating lower back pain during dragon boat practices. Hopefully this will prevent it from happening.

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