Friday, August 21, 2009


You know what it's like; constant, persistent back ache.

It hurts when you sit down. It hurts when you stand up. It hurts when you're in bed. It hurts when you cough or sneeze. You have trouble bending down to put on your socks and do up your shoes.

You've stopped playing sport. You're slowing down.

You blame your age, regardless of how old you are.

You try and think what caused it. Maybe reaching over to pick up a phone book, or a spanner, or, as I heard recently, turning round to tear a sheet of paper off a toilet roll.

Your doctor tells you to bring your knees up to your chest and go over to the chemist for a pill to mask the pain.

This might work. A lot of back pain seems to disappear serendipitously.

More likely than not, it won't work. You'll just keep going back to the chemist for stronger and stronger painkillers. When you get prescribed Oxycontin you know you're in deep strife. You'll be zonked out. You could end up like Michael Jackson.

Because bone is rubbing on bone, pretty soon you'll get arthritis. Your doctor will love that and will point it out on the X-rays. But the chances of your doctor telling you the cause and giving you the exercises to fix it up are remote. Even the Arthritis Association says it doesn't know the cause of arthritis.

Don't bother looking for what the medical research says. It's useless. The researchers reckon that it's not possible to determine the cause of 95% of backache.

That's bunkum. The evidence is selective.

Your chiro will give you a crunch, a bill for $66 and an invitation to come back next week. Like the doctor the treatment is likely to be palliative (and from that point of view it's useful) but probably not long lasting because it doesn't treat the cause of the problem.

You have to keep going back.


If it's a long-term complaint it's likely that over the weeks, months, years and decades some of your muscles have gradually taken bones out of alignment. Unless you have a regular strength and flexibility-training program or do yoga or tai chi there's an 80% chance that sooner or later you'll succumb to some sort of back pain. If you're more than 15 Kg over weight the chances are even higher. Being over weight dramatically reduces your mobility.

If it just happened recently and you think you can identify the cause (see above) there's a good chance your back was just waiting for a straw to lob on it. You could have been 99% of the way to having a herniated disk and you wouldn't know. Swivel round to get the toilet paper, bend down to pick up the dog and BAMMO, the disk ruptures and you're in agony.


You've got to start doing the strength and flexibility exercises designed to get your pelvis and the bones above it in better alignment. They are simple and not difficult to do. This is not rocket surgery we're talking about.

If you're diligent about doing the exercises for an hour or so a night while you watch TV, there's a better than even chance that in 8 weeks you'll be feeling a lot better.

When bones get back into better alignment the pain goes away.

You can get the exercises and the rationale for using them by going to

Regards and best wishes

John Miller


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