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Originally published May 17 2004

Chiropractic and acupuncture help with back pain, but a real cure requires flexibility and strength training

by Mike Adams, the Health Ranger, NaturalNews Editor

Eighty percent of Americans will suffer from back pain at some point in their lives, conventional wisdom says. But the way people treat that back pain varies widely. Many will just take over-the-counter painkillers to try to mask the pain. Others will opt for surgery, which almost never solves back pain problems for the long term. Want to know what really works?

I have far more experience in this area than I ever wished for. As a chronic sufferer of back pain for nearly a decade, I tried all the "easy" ways to get rid of it: inversion, chiropractic care, acupuncture, massage therapy, herbs, fitness and nutrition. None of them worked for me initially, but that was largely due to the fact that I didn't take any of them seriously. In other words, I might lift weights once a week, or stretch out once a week, or take a couple of herb capsules, or receive acupuncture treatment once a week, and so on. But I never did anything "all the way."

In time, the chronic pain just got worse. I eventually got to the point where I couldn't sit down for more than 30 minutes at a time without devastating pain in my lower back. And I was only in my 20's. I could see the future, and it didn't look pretty.

So I got serious about physical exercise. I got serious about improving my diet and supplementing with superfoods. I began a program of flexibility training: 20 minutes each day at first, then slowly expanding to 40 minutes each day over the course of around two years. I also started a very difficult strength training program designed to strengthen my lower back, abdominal muscles, and everything along my spine. On the side, I began daily joint rotation practices, dabbled with Pilates and Tai Chi, and started receiving chiropractic care once each week.

The result? Today I am 100% free of back pain. I went from chronic pain to zero pain, without drugs or surgery. In fact, I did it without the help of a single doctor. How did I do it? Primarily through strength training and flexibility training. Most lower back pain, I've since learned, is actually caused by weak muscles that frequently spasm. (This is true even if your pain has been diagnosed as a so-called "physical deformity" by a doctor, which is almost universally hogwash, by the way. That's a term that doctors just pull out of thin air went they don't know what's causing the pain.) You see, if your back and pelvis aren't flexible enough, everyday activities like sitting can create enormous tension in your lower back due to fundamental body mechanics, and that tension causes the muscles to go into spasm. When those muscles are sufficiently strengthened, they can carry a lot more weight, meaning that your body weight seems light in comparison. Also, the more flexible you are, the easier it is for your muscles to hold you upright, further reducing the chance of pain.

But here's the hard part: I had to train every day for nearly 12 months before my pain really disappeared. That's 300 days or strength training and flexibility training without knowing whether I was getting any better. It takes tremendous discipline to undertake that sort of physical training but I now believe that it is precisely this sort of program that would prevent and even cure back pain in more than 90% of those who suffer from it. Most people, though, won't commit to strength and flexibility training for a full year just to see results. They want results now! They just want the pain to go away, and so they go to their doctor and demand prescription strength painkillers.

Once the pain is masked with drugs, you're really in trouble. Now you're not receiving the signals from your body that should be telling you to exercise. Now, with the pain gone, many people just return to their sedentary lifestyle, ignoring the need to use their bodies in order to keep them healthy. At the same time, the prescription drugs are devastating their liver organs or, frequently, creating a physiological addiction to pain medication. It's a downward spiral.

The only way to halt that spiral is to make the tough decisions: reprioritize your life. Get to the gym every single day. Work your abs and your back as best you can, and incrementally increase the weight you use. Today, I do back extensions while carrying a 120-lb. barbell. When your back muscles can easily lift your body weight plus 120 pounds, you can bet it's easy for them to hold your spine up in a chair. Hence no back pain.

Another tip: never sit in chairs. Always sit on stools or benches. This way, you're relying on your own muscles to keep you upright. Never get lazy and allow the back of a chair to hold you up. In this way, chairs actually promote chronic back pain, and airplane seats are the worst of all -- they're actually shaped in a manner that causes spinal pain!

Also, the strength training and flexibility training applies to you regardless of your sex. Most men will lift weights, but they won't stretch out. Most women will stretch, but they refuse to lift weights. You need both in order to be strong, flexible and pain free. This applies no matter what your age. In fact, the older you are the more you need strength training just to keep your bone density high.

The bottom line to all this is that back pain need not be common. It is largely preventable through daily exercise habits that confer extraordinary benefits to your health and have been proven to prevent heart disease, cancer, diabetes and other chronic conditions as well. So get with the program and start moving your 'bod! You can reverse your back pain through physical training.


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