Friday, July 24, 2009

Back power strategies - What works - What doesn't - Example of how to deal with a physical challenge - ARTICLE

Some years ago, I started having some pain in my lower back.

I will give you this as an example for how to solve a physical issue when something comes up in your body.

Here is what came to mind when I was feeling that my back needed some strengthening + the habits or elements that I thought could have an influence:
  • Yoga!
  • Jogging / No jogging
  • Active seating on a swiss ball when at a desk.
  • Sleeping in bed / sleeping on floor on thin thermarest mat.
  • Pull ups without enough warm up putting strain on lower back.
  • Watching some TV laying on my chest with head up.
  • Calcium deficiency related with no longer eating diary products.
  • Temporary emotional tension.
  • Not enough muscle and power in the lower back.
  • Lower back exercises - Train that part more.
After testing these various strategies, here is what came up very strongly.

My back needed strengthening, so I started rebuilding power in that area with taregeted yoga and fitness exercises on a swiss ball.

Within a couple of weeks, no more tension and I felt solid again in that area.

To summarize and after doing some reserach on it, here is what I believe was not the solution:
  • It was not related with a calcium deficiency (apparently calcium deficiency is inexistant in the West as we get calcium from many sources not just dairy)
  • I tested sitting on a swiss ball while at a desk but gave up on that one because I can't take it with me while travelling.
  • It was not sleeping on the wrong surface. I can sleep on both bed or thin mat. Both are fine.
  • Emotional tension can influence back pain but it is NOT the real core of such issue.
  • Too much jogging without enough lower back strength? same story: the solution is to strength the lower back.
All these possible strategies would have involved a change in life style or behavior.

At the end the only key change that I really maintained was:
  • Getting a swiss exercise ball + adding frequent (3x/week) 5 min lower back exercises to my training routine
You see that when the issue came up, I really didn't know the final solution.

Yes, I had some ideas and If I had to make an educated guess, maybe I would have picked up the right strategy.

If I didn't analyse all the possible sources and solutions, I could have missed the target, right?

At the end, what makes a solid change and gets rid of this issue is one very precise core life style change: building up muscle and flexibility in the lower back area.

This is it!

Another important element is that I made it my top priority to find a solution.

I accepted to take time for this, try new things and experiment.

It took me about two weeks of testing these strategies + trying exercises before the final solution was found.

After thsi two weeks period I set up the exact strategy to easily implement this life style change.

In that case, I went for 5 min trageted exercise sessions. My discipline is not rigid. The exercises I pracice are easy and fun.

I have absolutely no problem mixing these exercises with my other training approaches.


Analysing and testing strategies the way I did is an approach you can apply to quite a few things in life... Especially health of physical challenges.

To summarize here are the steps you can take if you need to solve a phsyical issue:
  • Write down your options and possible causes.
  • Make it your top priority to find a solution.
  • Experiement and try new things.
  • Write down the final solution and find the easiest way to implement this solution.
  • Maintain this new habit or life style change on the longe term so that the issue you faced does come back.
Of course, doing some research online + getting the feed back or help from a professional can definitely help too.

This is it! enjoy!