Back Problems Don’t Begin With Disc Issues

What do you do when your back goes?

That depends on how far it goes!

If it goes in a big way you won’t be doing anything other than stopping dead in your tracks to reach for the strongest pain killers you can find.

This is the big one, the one that really gets your attention and creates the “memorable event” that you refer back to as the “Cause” of the back issues that follow.

  • …the time I kicked a soccer ball with my son and the lower back went, I crawled inside and was unable to work for 3 days
  • …the time I did a bit too much on the job and couldn’t move the following day
  • …when I was asked to help lift a pipe into a trench and my back went
  • …and so on.

The point of these examples is to trigger memories in you of what event you are blaming for your back issues because once you’ve got that clearly in your mind we can throw it out the window.

Your back episode today wasn’t caused by that “event.”

But wait, I had an MRI done and there’s a bulging disc…degenerative disc…herniated disc.

Same answer. THAT isn’t the cause of the back issue, it’s just the most immediate symptom of a much larger cause.

And, if you don’t get to that larger cause, the operation to repair the damage will fail you in the long run.


Despite what the experts have said, you have to drop this assumption of “an event” causing your back issues, it’s time to look at your situation differently if you are ever going to break free from the recurring issues not to mention the recurring costs in time and treatment.

You see, every single thing you’ve done to fix this back issue is, well… Not.

The reason?

You aren’t getting to the cause.

The cause… is… a…

…complete lack of education on…

…how to use your body within its anatomical abilities.

Lifting heavy things? No reason for your back to wear out.
Repetitive or awkward occupational movements? Same, no problem.

But you’ve already done the induction/workplace training so you know enough about manual handling? Problem. This is rudimentary at best, let me explain.

If you have chronic (3 months or more) recurring pain then you’re missing something much more fundamental than simply bending your knees when you lift. If you don’t think something is missing then stop reading now, I can’t help you.

To get any long-term change towards solving your back issues you must first accept that you are creating the cause on a minute-by-minute basis and no amount of stretching, strengthening or repetitive exercise is going to make a spot of difference other than to mask the symptoms for a short while.

An example of the kind of thing you are doing subconsciously to create the problems is placing disproportionate load and torsion into your knees when you reach and bend. In order to operate the knee hinge within its happy limits you must not bend them beyond your toes.

Try this:

Reach down and pick something up from the ground like a screwdriver.

Did you put a hand on your thigh? (to protect your back or knees perhaps?)

You are not bending anatomically.

The glutes and hamstrings should be heavily involved in this forward bend so that you don’t need to brace on your thigh…therefore not loading your lower back or knees. Every bend, whether you are lunging to pick up a tool with one hand or using two hands, will involve a stretch/strength of the hamstrings.

As you introduce more hamstring use into your day via functional, natural, movement, the pressure comes off your lower back and starts to lengthen those very tight cables in the backs of your legs.

Stretching is pretty boring, not many people keep it up… this being the bane of a physiotherapist’s existence(non-compliance of clients to stretch programs). But if your ordinary daily movement was giving you sufficient stretching by default… there wouldn’t be a need to waste time each day stretching.

Let me know if you have any major objections to these ideas, I welcome the conversation.

And take a look at my forthcoming f.u.n.c.®Shop for Trades. Tools, Retail, Cleaning, Manual Handlers… anyone with a physically active profession must understand their functional movement or forever be a pawn to the treatment industry.

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