17 Ways To Fix Back Pain

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Back pain SUCKS!

I know first-hand how much.  I was rear-ended a few years ago and it messed me up big time.

When your back hurts, it’s hard to be happy or think of anything else.  It wears on you constantly.  My friends tell me that car accident aged me ten years.

So I want to share a few simple strategies that can help you with your back pain.  These have helped me.

1.  Loosen up your hips.

If your hips are tight, your back has to take on the work that you should be doing with your legs and butt.  Here’s a post with videos of my top three favorite hip loosening and strengthening exercises: http://woldfitness.com/2010/08/fixing-knee-pain-with-hip-exercises/

2.  Train with kettlebells.

I know, I know.  The personal trainer at your gym has been telling you that machines are the safest way to exercise.  But the truth is, when you exercise on a machine it can actually INJURE your back!

Machine-based training forces you to follow the path of the machine, even if you’re built too tall, too short, or too wide.  And when you’re all braced into a machine, you’ll do whatever it takes to lift the handle or push the platform, which can wreak all sorts of havok on your joints.  And…. your back is an incredibly complex series of joints and muscle levers, so machines will jack you up right quick!

“Real world” exercises like moving your own bodyweight, barbells, dumbells, and odd objects like kettlebells teach you to support and use your whole body, not just one isolated part.

One of the most info-packed articles I’ve ever written about back health has to do with kettlebells.  Check it out here: http://carsoncitychiropractor.blogspot.com/2010/07/kettle-bell-expert.html

3.  Stop eating grains, sugar, and dairy.

Grains, sugar, and dairy all have an inflammatory response in your body.  The more inflammation you have, the more joint pain you’re going to have.

Getting rid of inflammation causing foods can have an IMMEDIATE effect of reducing total body pain.

More info on…

Grains: http://woldfitness.com/2009/10/grains-suck-wheat-celia/

Sugar: http://woldfitness.com/2010/09/99-ways-sugar-is-poisoning-you-diabetes/

4.  Quit doing crunches!

My chiropractor told me that as long as people are doing crunches, he’ll have job security.

Yes, a strong core is essential for getting rid of back pain, but the old Jane Fonda-standard crunch is exactly the wrong exercise.

The way your back bends during crunches puts enormous stress on the disks in your low back.  And studies have found that after doing crunches your back is actually able to handle LESS stress!

Reverse crunches, planks, and rotational core exercises are all going to strengthen your stomach muscles without damaging your back (provided you find a trainer who teaches you correctly and then watches your form).  Check out tip number 11 below.

5.  Learn the Cook Hip Lift.

This drill will help you fire up your butt muscles, so they can take on the load you’ve been putting on your back.

6. Fix your sleeping position.

Just think, if your sleeping posture is bad, you’re spending 6-9 hours tweaking your back!

If you sleep on your back, put a pillow under your knees.

If you sleep on your side, put a pillow between your knees.

If you sleep on your stomach, STOP!

7. Get in line.

If you’re trying to exercise and your back is jacked up, you’re likely to make it worse – even if you’re doing the exercises correctly!

See, sitting, postural problems, and bad exercise habits have mis-aligned your spine, and until it’s in place, you’re just training it to stay misaligned.  The pain won’t get worse, but it won’t feel much better, either.

I get regular chiropractic adjustments to make sure my spine stays in line.  Here in Carson City is the best chiropractor I’ve ever been treated by: Dr. Brian Russell.

Here’s his website and contact info: http://www.chiropracticcarsoncity.com/

The big mistake people make with chiropractic is only going in when their back hurts.  That’s like exercising only when you get fat, it doesn’t work!

You need to see your chiro regularly, to stop back pain before it starts!  We get constant small misalignments in daily life, they add up over time.  Regular chiropractic treatments keep your back healthy and happy.

8. Learn the Shin Box Switch.

The guy who taught this to me said to use it with clients who are becoming “chair shaped.”

It’s a great drill that I do at regular intervals whenever I’ve been sitting for a long time (like when I’m writing awesome health and fitness posts and bootcamp workouts!)

9. Get a ten dollar massage!

Go to amazon.com and order a full-round foam roller.  There are lots to choose from.  Then do this series of self-massaging exercises every day:

Every day you build up little bundles of scar tissue in your muscles.  This scar tissue binds up and pulls you out of alignment.  The best way to break up this scar tissue and prevent it from re-forming is a daily massage over the most common trouble spots.

A foam roller lets you massage yourself effectively without having to visit a spa every day.  (And they are fun to hit people with!)

10. Drink more water.

Drinking more water can help you lose belly fat, which will definitely help relieve back pain.  (Here’s how drinking water affects metabolism: http://woldfitness.com/2010/09/raise-your-metabolism-without-diet-or-exercise/)

But a lot of people experience back pain because they are dehydrated.  Sometimes people will come into my bootcamp gym and point to where their back hurts.

It’s actually their kidneys!  Kidney pain can radiate through the back, and a lot of kidney pain is caused by not drinking enough water.

I recommend working up to drinking an ounce of water per pound of bodyweight every day.  Since this seems SUPER HIGH to most people, set a bare minimum of half an ounce per pound of bodyweight.  (If you weigh 200 pounds drink a MINIMUM of 100 ounces of water a day)

Or you can follow the “pee rule” I learned as an athlete:  Look at your urine, if it’s brown stop what you’re doing and drink a lot of water.  If it’s yellow, drink more water.  If it’s clear, drink more water anyway!

11. Strengthen your core!

Your stomach, side, and back muscles all make up what is called your “core.”

(Don’t worry, I’m not going to try and dazzle you by talking about muscles with names like multifidus, transverse abdominus, and quadratus lumborum ;))

Here are a few posts I’ve done with videos of REAL core exercises that will strengthen your middle and help get rid of back pain:

ValSlide Core Exercises: http://woldfitness.com/2001/09/five-valslide-core-exercises-for-my-facebook-amigos/

Bootcamp Core Exercises : http://woldfitness.com/2010/11/7-boot-camp-core-exercises/

“Secret” Core Exercises: http://woldfitness.com/2010/08/5-confidential-core-exercises-ab-stomach-training/

(All of the exercises above are advanced, talk to your trainer to see which are right for you)

12. Build low back endurance.

Dr. Stuart McGill, the MAN when it comes to back health, says that lower back endurance is more important for preventing pain and injury than is low back strength.

It makes perfect sense if you think about it, no matter how strong you are, if your back is tired you’ll have bad posture and when you try to use your strength, you injure your back.

I like to use the Bird Dog exercise for building back endurance:

Two big mistakes most people make with this exercise are:

a) Looking up or forward.  Keep your neck neutral and look at the floor.

b) Sagging or twisting the low back or hips.  Envision a cafeteria tray on your back, and keep all four corners of the tray even.

13. Dehydrate your spine.

When you sleep, your spinal column fills with fluid.  If you start exercising or stretching or even bend over wrong to pick up your slippers, you can herniate your low back.

Before you do any bending, lifting, or twisting, stand or walk for at least ten minutes to let the fluid in your spinal column dissipate.

I walk around my condo complex first thing every morning while my kettle heats up for making tea.  All you need to do is stand up tall before you start any activities.

14. Quit eating soy.

Like tip number 3 above, soy is a food that causes all sorts of damage inside your body.

The more your cells are under chemical attack from your food, the less your body will be able to focus on healing and strengthening your back.

Check out my in-depth thoughts on soy: http://woldfitness.com/2010/04/soy-my-nipples-and-your-health/

And here is a soy horror story (WARNING: Adult Language!!): http://woldfitness.com/2011/01/soy-tried-to-kill-me-profanity-warning/

15. Double down on hip flexor and piriformis stretches.

Tight hip flexors and piriformis muscles cause your pelvis to tilt forward and pull your spine out of alignment.  To help fix that, do a LOT of these two stretches (several times a day, not just before workouts):

16. Read this blog post:


17. Lose weight and fix muscle imbalances.

When you gain weight, it pulls your hips out of alignment. Then when you exercise to lose weight, the weight might go, but the muscle imbalances remain!

So losing weight is the FIRST step, then second is to work with someone who understands muscle imbalances and how to fix them.

I was going to make a video about this, but my bro Kevin beat me to it! Check it out:

All right!

I have another 33 tips for getting rid of back pain already written down, so make sure to check back on WoldFitness.com again :)

Talk to you soon,

~ Luke

2 Responses to “17 Ways To Fix Back Pain”

  1. Wold Fitness Notebook » Blog Archive » Spine Damage At Zero Miles An Hour Says:

    […] 17 Ways To Fix Back Pain […]

  2. Wold Fitness Notebook » Blog Archive » Carson City Personal Training: 13 Reasons To Exercise Says:

    […] most cases, the best thing that you can do for back pain is to move and strengthen those muscles. Consult your physician or physical therapist for […]