Back pain and degeneration

Suffer from back pain? Why I won’t let degeneration disease limit me.

Let’s face it, as we age our body starts feeling the aches and pains. We move slower, old injuries flare up, our joints seem to hurt more often, and our flexibility isn’t what it used to be. 

Most people know how their injuries came to be and what makes them flare up. If we can pinpoint the issue, then we know to avoid certain exercises that cause the flare up. 

During my teenage years I started to experience back pain. Mid-back pain. I’m not sure there was ever a time that I don’t remember having chronic back pain. I was always, always trying to crack my neck or my back thinking the pop-crackle-pop would alleviate the pain. After persistent complaining to my parents, and many doctor appointments later, nothing was found. Ugh, such a disappointment. I’m so glad my parents were supportive and believed that I was suffering with pain but they couldn’t keep sending me to appointment after appointment. So, I just had to live with the pain. Can you relate to living with pain? 

I had to figure this out on my own. I had to find what works best to ease the pain and just keep doing that. So, I did. I rounded my shoulders back and kept very good posture. Yes, this helped but it was only temporary relief.  

I’m now almost 39 years old, so essentially my teenage years, my entire 20’s and most of my 30’s I’ve been living with chronic back pain. Since I can now afford to see a chiropractor on the regular, the adjustments and massages really help! By-the-way, when you find a good chiropractor…keep them.  If they take an interest in really helping you and finding the root cause of your pain, keep them. Ask questions, ask them to explain your x-rays in detail. Take time to understand the spine and vertebrae and where your injury is what might have caused it and what you can do to reverse it. 

Here’s what I’ve found out about my back pain. X-rays show that I have an abnormal curvature in my neck, which is causing compression or degeneration in my mid-back. Typically, abnormal spine alignment is due to trauma or whiplash. 

As I put the pieces together, I’ve never been in a car crash or have had any serious trauma, expect falling from a 2-story window when I was a child. Due to the nature of my fall and when I started to experience back pain, my conclusion (and my parents conclusion) is that the 2-story fall is the cause. 

I’m here as an advocate and as a trainer to let you know that there are exercises to avoid and exercises that encourage, strengthen and minimize back pain. 

Here are my TIPS to Reduce Back Pain

  • If you know what makes the pain worse, don’t do it.

Not all back exercises are right for everyone. Doing the wrong exercise may cause more pain, inflammation and injury. 

  • Always engage your core. 

Many people believe that because they have back pain, they shouldn’t do any type of core exercises. Wrong. When your back muscles are weak it affects the spine. Your spine supports the body, which is part of your core. To keep your spine strong and healthy you must strengthen it. Your core is your Powerhouse! Keep it Strong!

  • I DO NOT put weight on my spine 

You will never see me at the squat rack. Why? Because putting a bar with weight across my back and squatting causes pain. Why would I want to compress my spine? That just wouldn’t make sense.

  • I DO NOT lift heavy weights above my head

I do not lift heavy weights above my head like shoulder presses or powerlifting. Why? Because this puts pressure on my back, and again I would be compressing my spine. That would be counter intuitive. 

  • Front squats

I love front squats. I keep the weight close to the center of my body and squat. There is very little to no compression this way and I still get a very effective workout.

  • Stretch

Make time to stretch. I find the best time to stretch is after a workout or before I go to bed. I spend 10 minutes stretching my  hip flexors, back, arms, and legs… 

  • Walk

This is a good one especially if you have a sedentary job or have a long commute. Make time to get up from your chair and take a walk. Your body will appreciate it. 

  • Inversion Table

If you’ve never been on an inversion table, well, you are missing out.. you can feel your entire spine decompress. It’s a really good feeling. *if you’ve never done it before, go slowly, you can get quite the head rush from it. 

To this day, I get compliments on my posture. My posture has improved significantly because I consciously make it a priority and in turn it has really helped lessen my back pain. Maintain good posture.

Remember to always consult a doctor before exercising after an injury. 

If you are new to weightlifting or resistance training, please, please hire a trainer. Don’t injure yourself because you didn’t know how to properly use a piece of equipment or you went too heavy and compromised your form. Form first.

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My back pain was excruciating some days.

Even getting out of bed was very difficult.

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But I won’t let it take over my life.

This is what I did to help reduce the pain.