Fix chronic back pain without doctors or medicine.

I used to have fairly chronic lower back pain.

Do not underestimate the importance of core strength. A weak core leads to bad posture, and injuries, as we age. Posture has incredible downstream effects for the entire body. Ever lift something over your head to reach a high shelf, or bend down to get some medium sized object, just to tweak your back or stretch something the wrong way? That’s the result of weak core and bad posture. Trust me, you don’t want that.

A bad back can be crippling. It can really have an impact on your entire life. I know, I used to hurt my back a lot. Complaining about back pain was something I was prepared to do for the rest of my life. It happened so frequently, it was almost “normal”. Scary thought huh? Especially at my young age.

I used to be scared of deadlifts. Sometimes I would try them, and end up injuring myself again.

But, after some reading and re-motivation, I decided to try it again and make them a regular part of my lifting routine. Boy am I glad I did!

After lots of slow, careful progression and attention to good form, I was able to build my deadlift up to over 300 lbs. Mind you, this has taken me a couple years, and a few set backs. But the fruits of my labor have ripened.

The benefits of zero back pain, and the ability to lift almost ANYTHING I need to, without fear of injury, is priceless! My posture is great, and it shows in my outward appearance, the appearance of greater confidence!

I never have back pain, even after sitting for 8 hours a day at my desk job. This is incredibly important, especially for all you desk-jockies out there with chronic low back pain. Strength and posture is everything. Especially as you age. Deadlift. Do it!

Deadlifts are super important. They are one of the major lifts that promote muscle growth and strength throughout your entire body. They support the core, legs, shoulders, and even grip strength. Everyone’s goal should be to deadlift at least their own bodyweight. That, I would say, is a fair assessment of good health and strength. If you can at least lift your own bodyweight in the big lifts (bench, squat, deadlift, pullup) you’re golden. Go for it!

True, when I started lifting I would hurt my back doing deadlifts. But I also hurt my back in other lifts as well. Overhead press, squat, even bench. Why? Because my core was weak. I would strain my back to overcompensate for the fact that I was just lifting more than my core could properly support, and I would get hurt. I’d have to take a break from lifting to heal the injury, and inevitably end up right back where I started.

What was the problem? Poor form. Poor form because I was trying to lift too much weight. I wasn’t adapted to it yet. I didn’t allow myself to progress at the proper weight.

A lot of folks make this mistake. They go too big, too soon, and hurt themselves. Then they convince themselves that “this type of lift is just not for me”, or “I don’t really need it”.

The fix? Start light. This is way more effective for newcomers than just loading the bar to a dangerous weight. Start at a light enough weight so you can build neuromuscular adaptation, and then strength, to hold the proper form. If you try a deadlift, and you can’t keep your back straight, its too heavy. GO SLOW AND LIGHT. Form is everything here.

Slow progresstion, attention to proper form, and patience are key. Once you build up your core strength and the ability to lift heavy, say bye-bye to back pain!

 

Hard Time Falling Asleep? Try The Floor!

Sleeping on the floor might improve your sleep, health, and bring you back to your ancestral roots.

Check out The Ergonomics of Sleep, which I’ve quoted below. The author spent 30 years discovering that the best mattress, is NO mattress. Sleeping on a hard natural surface promotes proper posture and sleep patterns.

I discovered that the mattress is creating and/or masking the body’s current structural imbalances, impeding circulation and hampering the body from realigning itself during sleep. Sleeping on a hard surface can reshape the back and realign the body. A firm sleep surface helps the body’s relationship with gravity, with the earth. This is a therapeutic practice available to all of us, which works while we sleep.

Most ‘authorities’ seem confused and baffled. For instance the Mayo Clinic says: “If you have chronic low back pain, you may benefit from sleeping on a medium-firm mattress. Consider trying out a medium-firm mattress before you buy. However, you may find your back pain is reduced with a softer mattress.” (1)

I find these type of vague, unscientific explanations are common among the conventional health community. It really bothers me that something as vital as sleep has been so overlooked, and we are suffering as a result of bad science and soft beds. The same goes for our work lives. We submit to the “slow sit of death”, sitting in chairs, not moving for most of our lives. We should be standing and moving, yet the conventional wisdom tells you to buy an expensive posture-correcting chair so you can SIT and be DORMANT.

I slept on the floor last night, and it was FANTASTIC. I came home from the gym fairly worn out, and decided it was time to give this a try. I put a blanket on the floor, had another for a cover, and I passed right out!

I layed on my back. I found my posture was aligned and there were no specific uncomfortable pressure points. The “soft spots” on my body provided the base: my upper back/shoulders, my butt, calves, heels. The spots with the most muscle or cushioning tissue. My back and neck were allowed to comfortably and naturally arch. My spine was aligned. Eveything felt perfect.

I ususally have a difficult time falling asleep. It can often take me an hour. Not this time! I even forgot to turn off the music and I left the lights on. I was out in minutes, and dreaming. When I woke up from my nap, I was rested and felt great.

Now if you are out of shape or have no muscles to support your body properly, this may be problematic. A natural amount of back and shoulder muscle acts as a great buffer between your bones and the floor, and holds your back and body in alignment. If you have to struggle to keep your spine aligned properly, or it sags to the floor, you might want to think about lifting some heavy things every once in a while. Do some friggin deadlifts man!

Even if you don’t want to try this for a whole night, I suggest giving it a try for your next nap. Pillow not required. This helped my back a little too, since I tweaked it doing deadlifts a few weeks ago, it’s still been a little naggy sometimes. It felt great when I woke up!

I suggest trying this first, before spending a thousand dollars on some fancy sleep number bed that might make it worse.