By: Anthony Campo
Let’s be honest, life is rough on the body. However you have the power to fight back and keep your body as strong and healthy as possible with a little hard work. If you choose not to fight getting old then most likely you will get a back injury at some point. Close to 80 percent of adults have some type of disc slippage, herniation, or rupture. This can result in disability, be asymptomatic, or be anything in-between. Back injuries can come from an acute incident (ex: accident,) or chronic misuse from poor mechanics, weakness and muscle imbalances. Even a back injury that stems from an acute accident was most likely already injured or on the verge of being injured due the pre-existing conditions previously mentioned. Whatever the cause of your back injury the most important thing to do both short and long term is to improve movement patterns, mechanics, muscle imbalances and weaknesses.
The problem is that many physicians are not educated on movement patterns and muscle imbalances. Even physicians that may have a background in these areas often do not trust an individual to learn how to improve movement patterns and weaknesses instead advising individuals to do nothing but rest. Rest might help to alleviate acute symptoms but if the root problem is not addressed continued injury can occur, or the issue could turn chronic.
If physicians do recommend doing something it often is what they believe to be conservative general exercise such as pool classes or yoga. These tools can be good for general blood flow and recovery however if the classes are performed with the same faulty patterns then the problem will continue to progress. For that reason I do not believe group classes are conservative at all, and if the instructor is not modifying the class for your specific needs and coaching you extensively on technique it could actually be very dangerous.
The answer lies somewhere in the middle. For most people the root issue is weakness, imbalance, and poor movement patterns. Simply put, if you are able to move then you should be working on the quality that movement. Don’t just do exercise for the sake of doing exercise. Perform movements with a purpose and get better at them each time. This means fixing your mechanics and movement patterns that led to issue in first place. Also fix imbalances involving stability, mobility, strength, weakness, and flexibility. Lastly learn proper breathing techniques to solidify your movement.
• Nutrition is also another valuable tool. Improve your nutrition to help joints, build strength and manage chronic inflammation. Ignoring nutritional needs as it pertains to your rehabilitation is missing a huge piece of the puzzle.
– Eat at least one gram of protein for every pound you way. Protein is the building block for recovery.
– At least 20 percent of your caloric intake should come from Omega-3 fatty acids. Reduce Omega-6 fatty as they not only can contribute to damaging inflammation but can also block the positive effects of Omega-3 fatty acids.
– Stay away from excessive processed sugars and carbohydrates as they can also contribute to chronic inflammation in the body.
– Drink at least 1 ounce of water for every pound you way.
Once you have become self-aware of your movement and learn proper motor patterns then apply them to your everyday life and not just in the gym. One thing that I have incorporated that has helped me tremendously is every time I bend over or squat down I use the same mechanics as if I am lifting 500 pounds. Repetitive improper mechanics is the primary reason people get hurt, so taking these repetitive movements seriously will help to improve your health.
Once you recover, you must also continue to work hard to further progress so that you reduce the chances of the injury ever happening again. If you are looking to be as healthy as possible it is a lifelong commitment to make progress and prevent further issues from happening. It is also important to note that as we get older it takes a whole lot of hard work just to maintain your current level of health and function, so be ready to put in work for the long haul if you want to maintain your quality of life for as long as possible.
In Part III I will discuss an exciting new program called Therapeutic Training available for individuals looking to learn how improve their lives. Whether rehabbing an injury or looking to prevent one from happening in the first place Therapeutic Training is the single best thing you can do for your health. There is no reason to live with pain and dysfunction, now is the time to stop looking for quick fixes and learn how to truly improve your body function through Therapeutic Training.
Also see: Train For Surgery, The Pain Loop Part I and II, Therapeutic Training Part I, Stop Hurting Part I, II, III, and IV, Geriatric Training.