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We are probably going to change the name within a few months, but, for now, look out for the daily MWOD’s or Mind Workouts of the Day.

At the Backaholic programme  we are excellent physical trainers:  our expertise, programming and experience combined with  your commitment  hard work often means we can deal with back pain.

We are always looking to improving our coaching techniques and training methods, so our trainers continue their ongoing education, to keep up to date, to spot new effective training ideas  to ensure we offer the best service  in London and to be true to their  personal values of being the best   back fixers  around

However, Many of our  trainers have reported that often the physical targets set by you are undermined by peripheral factors : lack of sleep, poor diet,  negativity,  disrupted attitudes,  undermining self talk, a lack of belief, being too  self critical  perfectionist thinking and, sometimes  a lack of spirit

The reality is that if you look for the bad in everything,  you come training under an emotional cloud.

Negativity  effects everything you do.

Many of our clients, in their professional lives are paid to critically appraise business processes: political movements, accounts and marketing strategies.  Improvements,  after all,  can only be made by identifying where  improvements can be made.

You can see  an opportunity to improve your techniques, strength mobility as  fantastic  and useful challenge, or you can obsess about how poor your technique is , how poor your mobility is and how weak you are.

Negative thinking escalates and undermines everything.

Being aware of where you need to improve and  having a positive plan with  the ability to break things down, to understanding and cope with failure and be positive,  is the “secret” of successful people. This obviously relates to how you think about things, your attitudes, who you hangout with and whether the team that surrounds you helps or hinders you.

All these ideas and more will  explore on a daily, bit sized basis. Sometimes it will be simple reflections, other times considering the words of the wise,  often simple review tasks. Wait and see. What and how we cover these topics will change over the months but hopefully we will be able to wrestle  some of the cooler techniques away from the tree hugging hippies!

For today some lines from Satoru Izumi’s book ” Guidelines of Faith”

“fundamentally, everyone wants to be happy. The key to attaining happiness lies in whether we can overcome the negative influences of our environment or whether we will be defeated by them. Think of seeds,  the harder it is trodden under , the stouter  the seedling that grows… this holds true with human development… each of us has the seed of happiness. It is covered with the “earth”of various  problems which motivate us”

There is a lot to be said for losing weight!

The body mass index is a little clunky as a measure, but for those with knee and back problem, it should  be your 1st port of call.  Do you have  a healthy Body mass index?

click here and check

If not and you are  active, think on this. “Active” normally means 10,000 steps a day. If you are 10kg over weight  thats  10 x10,0000 that 100,000 kilos extra than your body  expected  . Weightlifters brace and prepare!

If you are inactive and slumping in your chair thats a lot of deadweight pressing on knackered  back and bum muscles.

“Dude, loose some weight!”

If you  have an ok weight, well thats ok. Go you. Thats not the problem!


Spinal surgery and complications……..

Im not a spinal surgery fan but it was comforting to read

 Anterior Lumbar Spine Surgery: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Associated Complications

According to the report “complication rates with anterior lumbar spine surgery are relatively low, with the most common complications occurring at a rate of 1-3%. Complication rates are related to surgical technique, approach, and implant characteristics. Further randomized controlled trails are needed to validate the use of preventative measures including CTA and the use of an access surgeon”

Still tough on the 1-3% though!

Always remember you are “just” a fitness Instructor or a “mere” therapists

I treat a lot of backs with a mixture of appropriate mobility, core strengthening, Back hygiene emphasis, improving the aerobic capacity of Backs, breathing, positive thinking, pain control…. blah blah

I have a lot of clients and suggest methods to fellow trainers. I am however not a doctor. I  do talk to a lot of spinal surgeons, back researchers, GP’s and others with interests in “LBP”.

I frequently argue points with them. I don’t, however, ignore them. I do not believe myself to be superior to them. I do often see that we frame our thought processes: we automatically put  limitations to our evaluation  of the client. Evaluating the client is key.

You must listen to them, and watch how they move. If someone ends up in a surgeon’s office, they should do the same. Is there a saying along the lines that, if all you have is a hammer, every problem presents itself as a nail.

So 2 points,

1) if you are a one trick pony (” “stretching is the answer,” “cutting you open is the answer”) do  try and consider other options (if you cannot  nail some metal to  someones spine  in less than 8 weeks, why not  suggest  a therapy in the meantime. It could work!

2) As a fitness Instructor or “PT”  remember your place: every back client should   seen their doctor 1st. You  and they need to screen for “red flags” . Also, ask questions.  If  for example, someone comes in with a weaker leg maybe its something more serious.
A  report that appeared in the Spine  “Primary extraosseous Ewing’s sarcoma of the lumbar spine presenting with left leg weakness” is an interesting point according to this report

“A 7-year-old boy presented to the neurosurgery clinic with left leg weakness. Enhanced multi detector computed tomography (MDCT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) were performed. MDCT images revealed a mass with minimal contrast enhancement that extended into the left L3-4 foramen and psoas muscle (figure 1). MRI images revealed a mass that was isointense on T1 weighted (T1W) images and hyperintense on T2- weighted (T2W) images compared with muscle (figure 2,3), with homogenous enhancement after contrast administration (figure 2,3), consistent with a nerve sheath tumors

In short, work with doctors, suggest and help BUT don’t tell clients to avoid them ( don’t make the pester them either)

Evaluating the Schroth Method

Once you start looking at the whole area of scoliosis and  conditions like Scheuermann’s disease you inevitably end up  reviewing the work of  Christa Lehnert-schroth and her  “Three-dimensional Treatment for Scoliosis”

Over the next few months we will evaluate and practice some of the aspects of this  method and look at the 3 segment concept , scoliotic breathing patterns. We might as well throw in sun and air now!

Exercise out doors whenever possible. “Many people need clean living air, more than nutrition.  Next to natural nutrition, air, light and sun are the best physiological means to stimulate  and increase the  body’s defences” (Bottomberg).  As someone who trains in a railway arch in East London I would endorse fresh air wouldn’t I!

Scoliosis research

Although its a bit away from the Backaholic agenda, I’m doing some  research on the efficacy of exercise on Scoliosis, using human Guinea Pigs (easer to feed, less pouch room). Ill park some generic observations and research on  this site, so we can all see where this is going.

Role of exercise in treatment of scoliosis: A quote from “Physical exercises in the treatment of idiopathic scoliosis at risk of brace treatment – SOSORT consensus paper”

“Exercise based therapies, alone or in combination with orthopedic approaches, are a logical approach to improve and maintain flexibility and function in patients at risk for pain, pulmonary dysfunction, and progression. Data from the Schroth clinic in Bad Sobernheim, Germany reveal improved pulmonary function  and reduced pain  in response to an intensive scoliosis in-patient rehabilitation (SIR) regime. Among the small number of studies which have examined it formally progression was less in patient populations who were treated with exercise [reviewed in (Negrini 2003)

The role of exercise based therapies as discussed in the spine literature has been controversial, however, with often-repeated claims that research has shown that such approaches are ineffective in treating scoliosis . A systematic review of articles published in English throughout history produced no data in support of such claims (Hawes 2003) . As pointed out by Focarile et al., in 1991, ‘Experimental controlled studies of different therapies seem to be justified both on ethical and scientific grounds.’

Hawes M. The use of exercise in the treatment of scoliosis: an evidence-based critial review of the literature. Ped Rehab. 2003;6:171–18

Negrini S, Antonini G, Carabalona R, Minozzi S. Physical exercises as a treatment for adolescent idiopathic scoliosis. A systematic review. Ped Rehab. 2003;6:227–235. doi: 10.1080/13638490310001636781.

Turn the pain into science

So, you have tweaked you back again!  Now your whole day consist’s of finding positions of comfort and seeing what moves hurt.

Don’t think of this as suffering,  Think of this an an experiment. Of course you are the only participant so no drug company can use your results, ( without re validating them) but, its interesting science nevertheless.

if you have been reading this blog you will have had several bracing strategies discussed. You probably ignored them or just skim read them.

Now its time to experiment. Does bracing your abs stop the pain: is sucking you abs in or pushing them out pain relieving. If so, how much in and how much out. Is it mild engagement or hard engagement ? Experiment with the anti shrug. Does pulling your shoulders down help?

Now, if possible get up and walk, swing your arms.


Does that help?

Do you find that if you lie down or lean against something it helps, but its a bit of a pig to get moving again?

What back movements hurt or help: does moving into flexion hurt, or extension? Can you find a neutral spine? does it help.

Now pay attention to your bum. Does one cheek hurt more than the other. Does it feel dull?   Is one leg sore compared with the other

What movements create pain. if theses are limb movements can you reduce the pain by  bracing your abs more, because, if you can, you could well have discovered, that for example, every time you move your leg, you actually move your back too! Thats a lot of work for your poor back.

Observe, experiment, record.Learn.

Unless your doctor has diagnosed “cancer of the back”, the chances are that the  LBP you suffer from is what 98% of others suffer from. You can fix it!

As always if you cannot find a  position of ease  check out  RED FLAGS , so see your doctor who may want to screen you for other possibilities. but if you simply have LBP, start to sort the issues.