First Aid for Backs
Stop Back Pain in its Tracks!
I believe that freedom of physical movement is one of life’s greatest gifts. One that we don’t often appreciate until it’s gone. As a physical therapist with over two decades of experience and a recovered back pain sufferer myself, I have realized the secrets to eliminating acute back pain. Now, I help clients all over the country know exactly what to do for themselves when back pain occurs, significantly shorten periods of acute back pain, and ultimately live with fluid movement and increased energy.
I suffered with acute and chronic back pain from the age of 14 years old. My first back pain episode occurred after my beloved grandmother passed away and I began torturing myself lifting weights in hopes that the physical pain would overshadow my severely broken heart. Well, I got my wish! For the next 25 years, despite being a very active physical therapist, I found it difficult most mornings to put my pants on. Every few months I spent multiple days stretched out on the floor praying for a cure. I couldn’t figure out why these “back attacks” would come out of nowhere, at times when simply bending over to pick up a pencil. My “push through it” self treatment approach wasn’t seeming to improve anything. It hadn’t occurred to me at the time that back pain might be caused and perpetuated by multiple sources.
The Solution – End Back Pain.
It wasn’t until that acute pain “lightning bolt” struck my back one day while working outside that a solution entered my mind. I realized that prior to this episode I had been feeling increasingly angry and frustrated, and in an instant the physical effort of lifting a piece of wood took me to my knees. Rather than getting more upset with myself, for some reason, I chose to do something different than I had in the past. Lying quietly on my back, I allowed myself to relax and while breathing into the pain I slowly began to move in small, non-threatening ways. Something felt so reassuring about this process that I knew it was some sort of breakthrough. I committed to continue with this new breathing and movement plan for three days, and I was astonished by what happened. What would have been weeks of acute pain was GONE in 72 hours. Since that time, I have employed the same process during each subsequent acute back pain episode. The last time I had a back attack, a couple years ago, the “lightening bolt” struck at 7am and I was walking two miles that same afternoon!
How First Aid for Backs became a method of treatment
I wouldn’t wish back pain on anyone. Before my discovery of the First Aid for Backs process I often had felt as helpless in treating other people with their back pain as I did my own. Now I see my own personal experience with back pain as a great gift and an opportunity to offer new possibilities to people who are suffering as well. I knew what happened on the ground that day wasn’t a fluke and was compelled to first, scientifically explain my successful treatment and second, systemize the process to benefit others. I can now confidently say that both of these things have been achieved in what we call the First Aid for Backs program. This program has further blossomed into an effective system of thinking and moving which has benefited people all over the country. Construction workers, teachers, desk jockeys, and super moms have all chosen to return to life faster and more completely after acute back pain.
Two old ways that don’t work. “No Pain no Gain” and “Bed Rest”.
“No Pain, No Gain!”
The old way to beat back pain was to work it into submission or just suffer through it. We now know that when we push our bodies too far the nervous system just gets better at creating more pain. We call this threat zone the RED ZONE.
Conversely, some professionals recommend not moving at all and lying completely still; however the nervous system is constantly scanning the body for external conditions. In the case of consciously decided immobility, the nervous system will seize things up further as a supportive measure. We call this immobility zone the GREEN ZONE.
A NEW way that works!
The First Aid for Backs program works between “no pain, no gain” (aka. The Red Zone) and bed rest (aka. The Green Zone), specifically engaging the nervous system with non-threatening movement to rebuild trust, release painful muscle spasm, and consistently increase spinal range of motion. We call this the YELLOW ZONE.
- #1 Pain is Output: Modern neuroscience tells us that our brains actually create an experience of pain based on several factors. Once we understand the factors that our brain uses to create pain we can consciously choose to make changes that result in pain-free, natural movement.
- #2 Abdominal Breathing: The body has two nervous systems. The first is the Somatic nervous system (i.e. brain, spinal cord, and peripheral nerves), which is controlled by volition, meaning that you can wiggle your toes by thinking about it. The second is the Autonomic nervous system (i.e. Sympathetic, parasympathetic) which is controlled by perception, meaning that when you feel threatened your muscles automatically tense and your heart rate increases. Acute muscle spasm is controlled by the autonomic nervous system and abdominal breathing is the quickest, most efficient way of accessing it to decrease perceptions of threat and restore normal muscle tone.
- #3 Yellow Zone Movement: When your brain perceives threat it creates protective muscle spasms to further restrict movement, and because perceptions aren’t rational it may not make sense to us that something as simple as putting on our socks should be threatening, yet rest assured if you are experiencing pain then indeed your nervous system is feeling threatened. Yellow Zone motion means moving in ranges and patterns, which reassures your brain that you can be trusted, which in turn allows painful muscle spasms to relax.