I’m going to get stuck into this episode with some frightening stats!
– “Lower back pain is the single leading cause of disability worldwide, according to the Global Burden of Disease 2010.” (NHS)
Multiple studies have found that lower back pain causes more disability than any other condition, affecting nearly 1 in 10 people, and becoming more common with increasing age. Unfortunately, yet not surprisingly, the condition is most common in Western Europe!
– “Lower back pain is estimated to affect at least 60% to 80% of the population at some time in their lives”
(Predictors of early improvement in low back pain amongst consulters to general practice: the influence of pre-morbid and episode-related factors, 1999)
– “In the UK, 2.5 million people have back pain every day of the year” (Back Pain Survey, 2001)
– This results in a total cost of £12.3 billion (22% of UK healthcare expenditure)” (Back Pain Survey, 2001)
– “119 million work days a year are lost due to lower back pain” (Back Pain Survey, 2001)
– “One in eight unemployed people give back pain as the reason they are not working” (Back Pain Survey, 2001)
– “The majority (approximately 95% of cases) of acute low back pain is non specific and serious conditions are rare causes of acute low back pain” (What can the history and physical examination tell us about low back pain?, 1992)
These stats are astounding, and show that lower back pain is a cause for concern worldwide, especially in the UK.
I wouldn’t consider myself a lower back specialist (YET!), however I’ve worked with a fair amount of people on a 1-to-1 basis who have or are suffering with lower back pain on a daily basis. Some cases more severe than others.
More specifically, over the last 2-3 years I’ve worked with half a dozen clients who now all live pain free (fingers crossed), yet at one point they all lived every day with lower back pain. Some who were somewhat disabled because of it. When I started training all these clients, they were all demoralised, and thought that they would suffer with lower back pain for the rest of their life.
Below I share one of my clients testimonials, however before this though, I want to explain my approach to rehabilitating lower backs.
I’ve spoken to physio’s, massage therapists, surgeons, and other medical/fitness professionals, who all have point of views, however one thing that is clear, and always comes up is total body STRENGTH!
Upper body, lower body and core!
I’ve never met anyone who suffers from lower back pain who Is strong, equally I’ve never met anyone who is very strong and has lower back issues.
When I say strong, I mean ‘gym’ strong (whatever that means). What I mean is biomechanically strong, but that probably means nothing to most of you, so In lehmans terms, I mean is that the body is strong through all basic human movements. Ive met ‘strong’ labourers, roofers, etc, who are ‘strong’ for their job, but put them in the gym and generally they are very weak throughout most movements. Actually, quite often they are weaker than the average Joe in the gym.
Stretching, massage, and other therapies can help and I’m not mocking them at all, but a lot of time they are methods which treat the symptoms and not the underlying problem. They only help short-term.
The stats above state that 95% of lower back pain is not serious, and therefore could be cured through simple lifestyle changes!
Strength and mobility work are the key, as well as a few adaptations if required, for example, less driving, stand up desks at work.
Interestingly this week I’ve been sitting and driving a lot more than usual, as I’m on a course in Bristol, and my lower back has been much tighter (Mesha’s as well, who is on the course with me), which has been good to experience.
So, if you are suffering with lower back pain, do not suffer in silence, reach out to us, as we understand how to strengthen the entire body from head to toe, mobilise the correct joints to release tension on the back, which in turn results in not just a decrease in lower back pain, but a better quality of life, increased body longevity, and many more benefits.
I hope you enjoy Phil’s testimonial. Thank you for wiring such an honest and powerful account of your journey mate, much appreciated.
To all, my name is Phil Summers, I’m a 41 year old who has suffered a life long Back disease.
I was about 12 years old when I started to suffer lower back pain, on several occasions I complained about this but my doctor at the time put it down to growing pains, I went on in this way until I was around 16 years old, I started to suffer with referral pain down my legs and was really suffering, finally I was referred to the hospital for tests, the hospital didn’t do very much or seem to take things too seriously, the only thing they came up with is that my spine was slightly curved when I stood upright, they found this out with a very technical examination by marking my spine out with a pen and making me bend over and stand up straight. That was it!
I continued to suffer and a growth spurt where I grew a foot in a year didn’t help and by this point I was really suffering but decided to suffer in silence as best I could as I started to believe the doctors with the whole growing pains thing.
I carried on life as usual, trained as an electrician and tried to stay as fit as possible, due to my back pain I had to stop playing rugby, I could hardly walk after a match so tried other things, the issue here was I still ate and drank like I was training and playing rugby but obviously I wasn’t, I started to put on the timber.
Then in my late 20’s I went to bed as normal with my wife, I awoke in the middle of the night a realised I had lost all feeling in my legs and testicles, at this point I shit myself ( not literally ) I was rushed into hospital and was examined, I was one finger and a clench from being operated on there and then, luckily I clenched that finger so the urgency was off.
Finally they decided to do a full mri scan, and finally I was diagnosed with scoliosis and Ankylosing Spondylitis, only a few year late! I was offered an operation to help but was told I would have a 70% chance of ending up in a wheelchair, these were odds I was not prepared to take!
I spent the next two weeks in and out of what I could only describe as a morphine, diazepam, co-dydramol and naproxen induced coma on my floor at home, once the worst was over I was so fed up and Non trusting of the NHS that I decided to research into Back issues and treatments myself finding a doctor in Harly street who was pioneering an operation called a Total Disc Replacement, I decided to call him on the off chance he might be able to help.
Once I was as good as I would be for a while I went to London to see him, it was the best few hundred pounds I had spent, I came away with hope and a way forward to try to keep the operation away.
I spent the next few years trying to exercise on my own to loose weight and help with core strength to assist my back, this put me into a viscous circle of trying to exercise without knowledge, cause my back to flair up, spend two weeks on morphine, diazepam, co-dydramole and naproxen, then start all over again, this went on for years.
My wife recommended I got in touch with Marcus at first class fitness to see if he could help, I was sceptical but at this point I would try anything.
I met with Marcus for an initial consultation, he was very professional from the off, once he agreed he could try to help taking all my issues into account with advice from specialists he knows, we started.
At first it felt slow but Marcus was finding out what my body could do and couldn’t do, he then started to write me different programs to try to help, this process took almost a year where I could work out without causing a flair up.
Over the 18months I’ve been with Marcus we have really pushed with knowledge and sense to the point I’ve come off almost all of my medication, I’m fitter than I have ever been and more flexible than I could ever imagine, I now lead what I consider as normal a life as I ever will and although I’m in pain every day of my life, I feel blessed that I took this road to fitness with not just Marcus but all the guys at FCF, they are a superb bunch of lads with amazing knowledge and power to motivate, I write this last piece with a tear in my eyes for getting my life back, I cannot thank the boys enough.
Fitness is an amazing thing when you have the knowledge.
Thanks for reading my story