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Adapt, Learn and Overcome. How to deal with Lingering Back Pain.

Back pain articles are not rare. They simply can be found by searching “back pain” in your Google search engine. This article is not a medical journal. The below article is just from a man that trains for performance and battles with back pain.

The below information should not be taken as a prescription for your back pain.

The following information is not a recipe or prescription to heal anybody else’s problems. Let me put in this disclaimer, I am not a doctor. If you need medical attention go see a doctor.

I have been training consistently since I was in sixth grade. From then until this point in my life, I would say six of those years, my training mimicked a dog chasing its tail when it’s owner comes home from work. With that being said, I was always under the assumption that I had a strong and mobile back but over time, I have come to a realization it is a weak point of mine. I am also beginning to wonder if I have other areas that need addressed that are also causing this issue.

Since I was a middle school athlete, I experienced back pain. The pain was never chronic, but I have experienced spasms that would set in without any warning. The spasms would take my breath away and they would decrease my ability to move without saying a prayer before I did so.  This led me to having to work around the current spasm I was experiencing. Being young and dumb, I usually never said anything to my coaches and just grimaced through the pain.

Looking back, it is safe to say I would experience these spasms about one time per year. I made trips to the chiropractors, but the spasm never seemed to heal any quicker and I never thought the problem was ever addressed. I eventually visited a message therapist when I was experiencing a spasm, and this was the quickest relief I had experienced. After a few days, the pain normally decreased and I was able to perform movements without the pain sweeping away my breath.

Fast forward to now and I have been having pain that is more isolated to my lumbar area. About one month ago, my lumbar area flared up and I was experiencing pain that traveled to my hip flexors. Again, it made moving difficult and it happened to be whitetail season at the time. This made climbing and sitting a tree stand not so fun. I had to call an audible in order to sit a stand that allowed me to sit without my back screaming. Whitetail season comes once a year and I was not letting a banged up back keep me out of the fight. I was going to be in the woods one way or another. With all that being said, this pain was different then my normal spasms. It radiated more towards my hips which I usually did not feel with the spasms I previously experienced which normally were in my thoracic area.  I performed mini mobility movements, heated the area, took Motrin and over time the pain began subside and I was able to reenter the weight room and feel decent.

Fast forward about a month and I found myself deadlifting after coming off working a night rotation. I was not at my normal gym so I figured I would use a trap bar and work up to a moderate to heavy triple. Very early in the session, I could feel by back was not up to par. I also could tell my bracing did not feel right. It was just one of those days.

As I was working up, I made the decision to work up to 315 (three plates on a side because that is 315 for me regardless of the bar I am using) and then I will drop down for some lighter working sets. Not listening to my inner voice saying this this a stupid idea, I loaded the bar and began pulling. The first rep was fine, second rep I could feel things becoming a bit unstable, then on the third rep I felt what nobody wants to feel. I was at the top of my lockout when I felt a slide in my lumbar area. I immediately dropped the weight and thought to myself how I dumb I was for not listening to my body. I always preach to others to listen to their body and to live to train another day. I did the exact opposite. I began to pace around the garage.

I was not experiencing much pain at this point but for anybody that has had similar experiences the fear is in what lies ahead. I had in my head that my back was going to spasm, and I would be locked up for a while which meant limited training while also making any hunting I did more difficult. I did what has given me any relief in the past. I continued to move. I walked and performed a variation of the reverse hyper using a glute ham developer.

I realized I need to make a change that provides a permanent solution. I began to heavily research why low back pain exists and ways to fix it. My search led me to Kelly Starrett. Since the garage, I have been implementing many of his movements into my daily routine. My back did not go into spasm as I anticipated, and I am back performing movements that would have previously taken me weeks to perform. I have been focusing on taking the sheer stress off my low back through stretches. I have also been focusing on movements that I can do on my own to reset my pelvis.  I recently purchased a reverse and will be implementing it into my program as both a strengthening and restoration tool.

The modalities that I am implementing recently helped me work through a tweaked low back. The point of this article is not to provide a program to fix your back. If that was what you were looking for I am sorry. The point is that problems are not going to fix themselves and I was naive to think otherwise. I realized I am the one responsible to find ways to fix the problem and make myself strong and mobile. Not just get hurt and push on without any change. My body is telling me that it needs change. I am in this for the long haul so I realize it is my responsibility to make the adjustment so I can stay in the fight.

Please comment if you have experienced back pain and what modalities you have implemented to drive in hunting, sport, work, or life.

-Coach Mitch