Take Your Power Back
Back pain is a massive problem worldwide. Studies have ranked back pain as the number one reason for missed work days. The number of children reporting back pain is growing and so are the recurrence levels for all ages. I have personally experienced how back pain can completely alter your quality of life and keep you from doing the things you love. While a doctor's visit may at times be necessary, physicians alone usually do not provide the comprehensive support and resources you need. We need a better approach to back health that is holistic and empowering.
Before we get started, I want to emphasize that each individual’s wellness formula is different. What works for one person may be totally different than what works for you. With that said, a holistic approach should always consider the same ingredients. I encourage you to print this info out for yourself, and, share this email with anyone you know who might benefit. I put a lot of thought and effort into this email because quality education and back health are both very important to me
Focus on Healing & Resilience
While relief is absolutely essential at times, those who only focus on relief will eventually find themselves back in the same situation or worse off. Healing means emphasizing lifestyle factors that allow for actual repair and change such as nutrition, sleep, stress management and proper movement. Remember, pain is a message from your body that something needs to change. By implementing the lifestyle and training concepts highlighted in this message, you can create a body that is more resilient and adaptable in the face of adversity.
We all have to face it, modern humans are simply inflamed. Combating inflammation should start by trying to change lifestyle factors that contribute to inflammation such as stress, processed foods, and environmental toxins. Make sure to leverage the power of anti-inflammatory foods and food based supplements such as dark leafy vegetables, beets, ginger, fish or krill oil and curcumin from turmeric. Sauna, cold therapy and epsom salt baths are also amazing tools
While complete rest is necessary at times for recovery, we now know that movement is essential for healing. Movement is medicine! I would postulate that a lack of movement is a major contributing factor to common back pain in general. We also know that sitting promotes a host of chronic musculoskeletal issues such as tight hip flexors, which are common culprits in lower back pain. Stay committed to strength training and aerobic exercise as they are both very important to maintaining back health. Find what works for your body and keep moving.
The human body is wonderfully designed for balance between mobility and stability. While all moving joints should have some degree of both mobility and stability, there are certain joints designed to have more range of motion while others are designed to have less. Mobility is our ability to actively move joints or the body through a range of motion. Lower back issues are often caused by a lack of hip and thoracic (upper back) mobility. Dynamic stretching is a highly effective approach to mobility training. It involves actively challenging joints through a range of motion and stretching the tissues along the way. With dynamic stretching, it is important to consider the position of all interacting body parts. Additionally, by looking at the body holistically as a system of systems (multiple systems), we can accomplish much more with our stretching.
Take Care of Your Fascia
The myofascial system (fascia of the muscles) is a complex network of connective tissue that supports the musculoskeletal system. Fascia has significantly more receptor neurons than most other tissue. Unhealthy fascia can not only cause localized pain, but can globally impair functions such as mobility, balance, coordination, strength and power. Hydration, nutrition, movement and posture are all very important for maintaining healthy fascia. Foam rolling, also known as self-myofascial release and self-massage, is a self-care approach to optimizing the health of your muscle and myofascia. Massage therapy and foam rolling are specifically valuable because their unique effects, such as trigger point release, typically can not be gained by stretching and movement alone. I specifically designed the Moball Roller to address the health of these systems in ways that other products could not.
Connect with Your Hips
I like to say that your hips are where the magic happens. From a functional movement standpoint, the hips are arguably the most important part of your body. In order for us to be healthy movers, the hips need to be mobile, stable, strong, powerful and resilient. To put more emphasis on the matter, sitting and a generally sedentary lifestyle can rob the hips of many of these qualities. Caring for your hips should involve foam rolling or soft tissue work of the tissues, dynamic stretching, and training for stability and strength. Keeping your glute muscles strong and activated has proven to be incredibly important. I believe in this so much that I created the Better Band to serve as a more effective, versatile and pain free tool for keeping the hips healthy. develop a strong hip-hinge, which is the ability to bend at the hips with complete control of everything below and above
Explore Your Core & More
While we all seem to love a good core workout, not everyone truly understands how to train their core or what exercises are best for back pain. The core’s main job is to stabilize the body, not create movement. Instead of crunching and twisting motions, which can exacerbate injury, focus on using the core to support and stabilize the body through exercises such as plank and deadlift variations. An important muscle to train for back health is our deepest abdominal muscle called the transverse abdominis. This muscle acts like a corset and is designed to stabilize your torso and hips for actions such as lifting, carrying and pushing. Some other important stabilizers include the latissimus dorsi (lats), diaphragm, pelvic floor, multifidi and obliques. I am a strong believer in functional training movements that emphasize strengthening the back such as Romanian deadlifts, single arm rows, and pull-ups (or lat pulls)
Posture & Alignment
As a metric for health, posture is a growing concern given that modern lifestyle is fundamentally setup to deconstruct posture. Poor posture is a recipe for a host of issues from headaches to herniated disks. When well aligned, the body is beautifully designed to work with gravity. Misalignment not only leads to movement dysfunction but also renders the body less capable of handling the stress of gravity. I recommend developing an understanding of what normal or ideal alignment looks like so you can assess your posture. Emphasize the position of your head, spine shoulders and hips. Practice body awareness drills that help your proprioception and the sense of connection with your body. Get in the habit of performing postural corrections and drills in your most common positions throughout the day such as standing, sitting and walking. Remember, the positions your are in the most shape your body
As it turns out, breathing is far more intertwined with our well-being than just air exchange. Breathing is key to optimizing stress management, recovery and performance. Improper breathing can directly impact our state of mind, nervous system, chemistry, energy, immune system, posture, sleep, endurance, movement and more. Developing simple breath awareness and techniques can be game changing for health and performance alike. Best of all, breathing is free and its effects are immediate. Your mechanical capacity to breath relies largely on your ability to use your diaphragm muscle and how mobile your ribcage is. Practice strengthening your diaphragm by thinking about initiating your breath into your belly and then expanding your ribs out and back. Adding a band around your lower ribs to add a hint of resistance to breathing drills can be helpful for cueing and strengthening the diaphragm.
Emotional Health, Mindset & Stress Matter
The direct connection between our mind, emotions and physical state has probably been the biggest eye opener for me over the years. Whether you want to call it ancient wisdom or the placebo effect, it doesn’t matter. We all have the power to significantly impact our life experience and physical reality by focusing on the quality of our thoughts and emotions. Emotions are energy, and they can have a very real influence on tension in our body and the health of our organs. I have personally experienced chronic tension and pain disappearing from my body with the release of emotion. Whether or not it immediately helps your back pain, emphasizing the health of your mind and emotions will certainly change your life for the better.
Community & Accountability
Humans are designed to interact and thrive together in communities. Connection is an essential nutrient for optimal well-being. Accountability is one of the most important and overlooked ingredients to the success of wellness goal. Reaching out to your community and sharing your commitment to healing your back pain with others can not only be great for creating connection, but also for establishing accountability. Chances are that someone close to you is dealing with something similar and wanting to connect.
Committed HP emerged from my vision to create a community of truly healthy, happy, high-performing humans. The company’s mission is to serve as an ecosystem of tools, resources, inspiration and community for modern humans to thrive. Specifically, the commitment is helping people with transformation and optimization by providing health and performance tools, education and guidance. The philosophy is to mindfully combine timeless wisdom with modern understanding and experience to create innovation in these areas. The system is designed to serve as a foundation for journeys of every level, size, color and flavor. We are a community led by wellness warriors who walk the walk and talk the talk with wisdom, passion and compassion.
Modern Humans Require Modern Tools
As a whole, my journey has provided some of the toughest challenges to overcome and profound lessons to learn. I have battled with nearly every type of challenge including debilitating pain, chronic anxiety, physical, emotional traumas, and even disorders. I am sharing all of this with you because I am certain that you or someone you care about is in a place where we can make a difference in their life.
Just Remember, Wherever Your Journey Takes You, You Are Not Alone!