The thing about your back is, it’s like 90% of your body. When it gets messed up, going about your normal day can be pretty rough. If you’re anything like the 80% of Americans (source) who experience back pain at some point in their lives, then you know it can happen at just about any time. Whether picking up a heavy box or a tiny baby, it doesn’t take much to hurt your sensitive spine. Hell, you can even do it by sitting in a chair!
Is it inevitable that back pain is going to happen? How do we fix it: cold compress? Weekly chiropractor appointment? Fistfuls of Advil with a vodka chaser? The answer is actually pretty simple.
What Doesn’t Work
“If I’m more likely to get low back pain from lifting things from the ground, I just won’t pick things up. That helps, right?” Actually, no.
Avoidance on its own help cure or prevent back pain. According to physiology expert Robert Kell, inactivity actually weakens your body, leading to worse, chronic back pain and even less activity (source, page 114). This vicious cycle of pain and inactivity makes it harder to get through the day due to fatigue and lack of spinal stability. Sounds like a shitty way to live, right? Luckily, there’s a simple solution.
While the back pain issue can be chronic, the solution is simple: get your ass in the gym. Kell’s study found a 60 percent increase in form and function when subjects followed a 16-week weight training regimen (source). Even if you’re not currently pumping iron in the gym, would a 60 percent increase in your daily comfort be a great reason to start?
Some subjects in Kell’s study saw even better results. People who followed a full body weight training regimen for four days a week found greater spinal stability from their muscles’ new ability to keep the body steady. Take it from me: you don’t have to become a “swole brother”to feel better in your own body. You just need to put in some work.
Let me finish by saying that some back issues can be more severe; these include slipped/herniated discs, spinal degeneration, etc. If that describes your situation, listen to your back doctor above all else. Otherwise, always listen to your body in the gym before you listen to me. Body says stop? Stop.
Getting a full-body training regimen is a simple fix. Aim for 20-minute weight lifting routines, three times a week, to get started. If you’re unsure about what to do, ask your trainer at the gym or yours truly for guidance on getting started. Remember to have patience with the process: Dr Kell’s study subjects saw improvements over a 16-week period, not after a single session. Be patient, commit to the process, and always believe in your ability to change for the better.