Back health (pain remedies, exercises and relief)

Nov 30, 2018


7 daily moves
7 daily moves
7 daily moves

I spent many hours and many many hundreds of dollars on various treatments for my back pain… thankfully I learned a lot. Hopefully this saves you some time and stress.

I had knifing lower back pain for many years (at some points I had to lay on my bed to put on my socks), due to my computer lifestyle or bag/purse schlepping or slouching/weakness or extreme yoga practice or collegiate rowing or whatever. I tried many things that didn’t help, here’s what did.

Look, one zap is slower, QED the nerve is pinched

1. Get a diagnosis

Don’t skip this step! Treatments for some conditions are contraindications for others! e.g. If you have pinched nerves or herniated discs, arching the spine will help… but if you have a slipped vertebrae, arching will make it worse. If you have tight back muscles, rounding the back will help stretch them… but if you have a herniated disc it will push it further out into the nerves.

  • EMGs will reveal pinched nerves, Dr. Loren Fishman on the UES did mine (he runs and wrote Yoga for Back Pain) and finally I knew I had 3 pinched nerves (under L4, L5, and S1)

  • X-rays and MRIs can show bulges, but most people have bulges and they don't necessarily correlate with pain

The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook

2. Reduce the tightness

and keep it loose! This must be a lifestyle change.

  • McKenzie exercises — Easy and quick stretches, good for acute pain. The book with them all is Treat Your Own Back

  • trigger point massage — this book is a life-saver for mapping the pain to the source (often around the corner), and providing solutions. Tools:

    • lacrosse balls — basic equipment, also MELT or Yoga TuneUp classes

    • TENS zapper — when you're too lazy to roll

    • deep tissue massage — when you want that human touch (Capri Miner at Slope Wellness in Park Slope is a beast)

    • trigger point acupuncture — worked amazingly on the deeper knots. But magic hands Tricia Smith moved to MN

    • Kiiko acupuncture with Supriya Desai Lay also helped for general wellness but she moved to IA.

  • Yoga that's specific to your back issue — e.g. at Yoga Union Center for Back Care & Scoliosis — I did a day-long herniation workshop with the brilliant Alison West and learned so much

  • NO MESSENGER BAGS OR HEAVY PURSES — carry in your hand, not on your shoulder, if you must... avoid asymmetrical stress

Gif by 7 Daily Moves (defunct)

3. Strengthen the weakness

also a long-term lifestyle change

  • physical therapy — get a custom exercise routine. 12 sessions with Kristen Romeo (a back specialist) at Park Sports PT and I was fully pain-free

  • continued core strength — Pilates and barre are great, and remember your core runs from your ribs to your knees

  • good posture

    • standing desk — sitting is actually a forward bend, a standing desk keeps your core strong and your hip flexors long

    • lumo lift — buzzes you when you’re slouching... "texting neck" is a known condition now. Make sure you’re looking forward at screens and not down (and take regular breaks to look up at the sky and reset)

Also check out books by John Sarno (e.g. Healing Back Pain) — there’s a large group of people (overachievers / perfectionists) that hold stress in their back and can relieve pain by first working out their minds.

Feel better!

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