Chances are if your 35-65 and in the throes of raising children, growing your business or in your career, exercising, let alone having a creative or sporting pursuit, you have experienced back pain and have tried a lot of solutions to solve it, with limited success.
This article is about that, and we’re going to make the point that one thing (one therapy…) won’t typically resolve it, unless you are talking about a lifestyle solution that includes, but is not limited to therapy and recovery.
Recently, my back went into spasm. It’s something that usually happens when I get worn down, there’s an emotional trigger and I’ve been sitting for a bit too long, which happens when I get tired– aka, vicious cycle.
Now I have a history of back issues due to athletics, adhesion buildup (that’s scar tissue) and I had an injury due to falling on black ice a few years back that left me in the hospital for a few months; and drugs, inactivity, a less than optimal diet in the hospital and as a consequences of the hospital, led to a whole lot of other consequential and disruptive stresses that played into my recent pain.
But in the past, when I was much younger (and dumber) I would let that pain run its course and just carry on with my life. I was busy. Today, things are very different. I’m still busy, more so in fact, with a new 2-year-old to boot, at 51; but knowing what I know about a cause, and resolving issues rather than letting them build into vicious cycles and eventually downward spirals, I deal with it.
Like any human being, sometimes I/we gain expertise in a certain context, and then shift into a different context and forget to apply what I/we know.
This is what was happening with me and back pain. You see, I never really looked at it as a result of lifestyle factors. I saw it as just, well… back pain. And I had a story about it, that really did nothing about it.
Well, that changed this past July
Back in July when my back pain was high and in spasm, after I went to multiple back pain specialists, each specializing in one modality; I finally found a physical therapist that offered a multimodality approach– such as dry needling, traction, rolfing, electric stimulation, adhesion breakup techniques, stretching. I also used some chiropractic. I also tuned in to all the lifestyle factors that had to change so that I didn’t give rise to this back problem and it was nothing less than a series of both tactical and strategic lifestyle changes that were required.
So I was committed to not having this pain again and to the time it might take to get out in front of this debilitating experience, which had manifested into bulging disks that were pinching down on the root nerve at L5-S1 for starters.
So here’s what I concluded and this is why a lifestyle solution that includes therapy and recovery is so important.
A) It all starts with getting all the sleep I needed; the one-third of my life that my waking two-thirds depended on for maximum energy. Nothing I have done to get free of stress-pain and fatigue in the past has had any significant and lasting impact when I’m overexerted and lacking sleep. It just doesn’t stick.
1) I acknowledged that I needed to drop some weight, that had built up following my long hospital stay and the years that followed. I had a new set point at a higher weight and that needed to change. First and foremost, it was the weight that was putting pressure on my lumbar joints. So right there, you know you we are talking about a lifestyle solution that effectively deals with stress in ways that don’t create more stress such as excess weight. Sleep went a long way to helping this…
2)I had a good deal of excessive stress at the time that my back went into spasm. That had to change, so I changed several approaches to things that were going on at the time. One was an intensive leadership course I was involved in, where the instructor required everyone sitting. I had to push back and stand a good portion of the time. Matter of fact, standing and then resting every 15 minutes, versus sitting and then standing when I get up (which could have been hours in the past), has become my new status quo.
3) I needed to focus more on my core and keep it strengthened indeed; using both abdominal and back extension techniques, such as the Mckenzie technique.
4) I then used our own Regenus Center for whole body light therapy (PBMT) to help accelerate recovery and help regenerate the tissue at a cellular level. This was invaluable and has now become a regular function in my regular and systematic recovery from fatigue that builds up.
5) I also used light therapy in the form of a laser. Also known as PBMT (photobiomodulation), Class V Therapeutic Laser therapy floods the area with red and near-infrared light so that I could calm the nerve signaling in the area (reduce pain in a significant way) and heal the area at the same time.
6) I started using infrared Sauna, every day if possible to gain the hormetic stress I needed to strengthen my cells’ capacity to adapt.
7) I even started to do periodic sessions on the Hyperbaric Chamber, so I could recover at an even faster rate.
8) I realized I was not stretching regularly at the time and needed to build this back into my routine. Yeah, I got lax, really lax.
Essentially, so far, I was making what we today call and incorporate into a “Regeneration Transformation” here at Regenus Center; a multi-modality period of therapy and recovery to to help you get your energy into the strongest position possible, including reconnection to the sources of energy in the environment, a committment to getting optimal sleep and all the essential recovery modalities organized into a protocol, so that you can heal, lose weight faster to help reduce the stress on your spine and joints, and respond to any or all of the physical therapies–faster.
9) I had/have to pay special attention to responding calmly to what would for most people, or anybody, be an emotional experience. These past two years saw our new baby girl being born and raised, a major new release of our website and huge changes that were very challenging at times to deal with. With the excess demands on me, I just could not and can not afford the energy spend of emotional responses to challenges; it was putting me over my edge.
Even in my work with clients, I am taking a much more “unfolding” style of information delivery, less the cerebral, willful and dynamic push of information that I am used to because it’s very taxing on my nervous system and energy levels. This new style enables me to regenerate more fluidly.
10) I needed to be drinking more water. I eat such a high-water content diet, but sometimes I forget to hydrate alongside the food I was eating, all part of a whole foods nutrient-rich diet.
11) Back exercises that catered to my condition needed to continue on a regular basis. I talked with Dr’s at Core Therapies, where our center is located and discovered all kinds of essential tips and tricks.
12) I would have to engage more regularly in decompression, and the use of an inversion bed to take the pressure off my spine and elongate it. My back pain was not just caused by the buildup of scar tissue, there was a degenerated disk, (common among 50-year-olds), which under the right circumstances, it was pinching down on a nerve. So I needed to build this in more regularly not just when the pain emerged–i.e lifestyle solution.
And probably the most important I needed to maintain my regeneration practice at the highest levels. In our busy, world, it’s easy to deprioritize regeneration and recovery in the spirit of working harder and longer (even for worthy reasons) and wear yourself down. We call this burning out and trading your health for success. From time to time, usually, when back issues spring up, I don’t need to look hard to discover that I’ve worn my body down due to getting lax on recovery and recuperation and it’s negatively affected my lifestyle. Sleep, rest, recovery, etc…
There are reasons why recuperation, recovery, and regeneration are the crux of living a performance lifestyle. You simply can’t mess with waring yourself down. You must keep yourself as highly regenerated as you can, starting with sleep.
It’s why here at Regenus Center, making a “regeneration transformation” is the key to correcting course when you start feeling worn down, and core to living a performance lifestyle.
These twelve points are just part and parcel of a whole lifestyle. It may seem like a lot until they are built into your new normal and become unconscious because they deliver, recovery, prevention and enhance performance. I hope this article illustrates the point that it’s never just one thing that solves a stress problem. It’s the lifestyle you are presently engaged in that’s determining your stress, and whether you experience fatigue and pain, and this is what you want to master.