One year ago I started working my way towards a healthy body and, more specifically, fixing my back issues. I had a bulging disc at L5-S1 and had gone through physical therapy, seen back doctors, chiropractors and nothing seemed to help. Sitting in a chair 8+ hours a day is not something we’re intended to do.
After getting progressively worse over time, I eventually threw my back out (in quite embarrassing fashion) by reach across the couch for the TV remote. I was down and out for nearly a week. My wife can testify that I was failing as a parent, a husband, and a person by not taking care of myself so that I could take care of my family. My overworking mindset led me to believe that if I worked all the time I would eventually create enough margin by working hard enough on the computer. Not only did that fail to produce any sort of results financially, it also affected my health to the point where I couldn’t keep living that way. I went to a back doctor, got some x-rays and was told that the next steps for me would be receiving epidural shots every 6 months to relieve the pain while I started to do some rehab to hopefully strengthen my core.
I left the doctor extremely worried that I would never be able to fix my back issues without ongoing medical treatment or a spinal fusion surgery.
I decided that instead of going that route, I wanted to try something else first. It seemed that the biggest piece of advice I had consistently received but never acted on was strengthening my core.
So, after having done some of these exercises in my two stints in physical therapy, I started doing two things to see if there was hope for relieving my back pain.
First, I started doing bridges. This exercise took only two weeks before I started noticing decreased pain and increased muscle strength. I never though something so simple would help fix what I always thought was a much bigger problem than simple core strengthening. Here’s a video showing the technique of the bridge:
The next exercise was planks. Planks are one of the best core exercises I have ever done and are proven to be one of the best simple exercises you can do without weights, machines or much time at all. Combining them with just bridges (I hadn’t started any other exercises or gone to the gym yet) and I started feeling relief from chronic pain and sciatica that had persisted for many years.
The key to all of this is consistency. I didn’t fix all my back issues overnight and you should expect to take it slow and start seeing real results from these exercises in more than just two weeks. In addition, once you start to feel some pain relief, it is extremely helpful to gain some strength and mobility.
Questions? Hit me up on twitter (@chriswallace).
Disclaimer: I’m not a doctor or a personal trainer, so please do not take my words as official medical advice. Consult with a physician and/or specialist to come up with a treatment plan that works for you. I am simply sharing what has and has not worked for me.