If you are just joining me here, read http://cassfitness.net/my-journey-through-low-back-pain-and-recovery-pt-1/ and http://cassfitness.net/my-journey-through-low-back-pain-and-recovery-pt-2/
to get caught up to speed.
In the last installment, we left off at my progress at the end of 2012. Fast forward a few months, and I embarked on my journey to become a personal trainer. I had some professional setbacks along with a larger desire to enjoy a career in the fitness industry, and help others with weight loss, strength training, and injury recovery.
I knew I also needed to teach people Squats and Deadlifts without hurting myself during demonstrations. At first, I was afraid to do them with fears of compression in my lower back. I had hurt my back for a few days in early 2013 from doing a Seated Leg Press (which after a lot of research, I found out it was bad in particular for people with SI joint issues like I had.). In fact, I still do not program the Seated Leg Press to this day for anyone. The risk to reward ratio is just too high as I feel Barbell Squats, Lying Leg Press, and Hack Squats are much better options that are safer for your back. I pretty much stuck to doing Lunges, Step Ups, Bridges, Stability Ball Leg Curls, and Hip Thrusts for my leg work. Then, one of my partners, Ramon Thomas was lifting with me one day. I told him I wanted to deadlift, but I was afraid to hurt my back. I knew it was not a great exercise for someone who was injured, but it is the best exercise to strengthen your back and entire posterior chain. I ended up deadlifting for the first time. He encouraged me to do it when I was not quite ready in my mind. After he asked me if I was deadlifting today. I said, “No, I’m not ready yet. Maybe next week.” He said, “You aren’t starting this next week. You need to start deadlifting today! No excuses!”. So, I said, “Dammit, you’re right! I got this!” I pulled a measly 95 lbs, but I pulled weight without injury. Deadlifting quickly became one of my favorite exercises. I hit my record of 350 lbs while weighing 153 lbs this past December, and I aspire to chase the 400 lb pull next. I favor the Sumo Deadlift, partially since it is a little more back friendly than the Conventional Deadlift is, but also since I have long legs and a short torso. Trap Bar Deadlifts are also a good back friendly alternative (A lot of gyms do not have a trap bar. However, you could get a trap bar HERE and bring it to the gym!)
Ramon had also convinced me to try plyometrics. I started doing Squat Jumps, Burpees, Mountain Climbers, and Plank Jacks quite regularly. I had my reservations about Squat Jumps and Burpees. Again, I needed that kick even I could not give myself. I needed to perfect these exercises. My new career was going to depend on it.
I also took care of my body outside of the gym. I put in a memory foam seat pad and inflatable lumbar pad in my driver seat. I ditched the desk chair, and used a zero gravity chair instead for my computer set-up. I made sure I did my lying crossover stretch, piriformis stretch, hip flexor stretch, foam rolling of the back and hip flexors, leg swings, one leg floor bridges, and drawing in maneuvers daily and sometimes twice daily.
With my core the strongest it has ever been, my posture being great for the first time in years, my muscles not nearly as tight as they used to be, my legs getting stronger, my back pain pretty much finally disappeared. I still to this day make sure I never sit or stand in one position way too long. I keep my body mobile. I have a tempurpedic firm bed. I wake up refreshed and energized instead of sluggish and in excruciating pain.
I now teach my clients how to prevent back pain, and prescribe exercises on how to reduce it if they are in pain. I do refer serious cases out to physical therapists, chiropractors, etc. and still program back friendly routines based on their goals. I did hours and days worth of research for my own back, and it feels great helping someone else out, getting the knowledge out to them much quicker then how I was able to obtain it. The injury humbled me a lot. I never take being healthy for granted anymore. There were times I never thought I would have a great quality of life again. I remember how miserable and depressed I was. I want to offer hope. I am lifting more than I ever have, running almost as fast at the 2 mile run as I was in high school, I can ride any roller coaster, and I am just happy in general.
It is a horrible injury that is a HUGE problem especially as we are more of a sitting culture than we have ever been. Often, many bosses do not care, as was the case with some of my bosses when my body could handle standing all day in dress shoes with no movement, many days working overtime. 80% of Americans experiencing back pain in their lifetime is not a joke. You use your back for EVERYTHING! No injury is good, but every movement and every second of every day is affected by your back health. I feel back pain is a crisis overlooked still for the most part. As a fitness professional, I want to do my part to help reduce that 80% figure. I would rather help you prevent a back injury than get one, but I would like to help if you need on your path to recovery as well!