Geezer report: how a trip to the Northfield Library ended my 20-year struggle with low back pain

I blogged about my high-tech hearing aids over a year ago. So it’s time for another report from the front lines of impending geezerhood, but this time, the topic is low back pain.

lo_bk_pain I had my first episode of low back pain in 1988. I was working late at night at a job in Eden Prairie when suddenly, I couldn’t stand up straight. I literally had to crawl to my car to drive home. I started standing at a desk back then and have been doing it every since. But I’d still have episodes where I’d pinch a nerve in my low back (sometimes doing nothing strenuous, other times, doing stupid stuff) and then hobble around for a week or two. I would always get immediate relief from a variety of chiropractors, and then I’d try umpteen different back/stomach exercises to prevent it from happening again but nothing ever worked longer than 3 or 4 months.  Until a year ago.

That’s when, after another pinched nerve episode, I found this book at the Northfield Public Library:


Back RX : a fifteen-minute-a-day Yoga-and Pilates-based program to end low back pain forever, by Vijay Vad. (See Dr. Vijay Vad’s web site for more about his books and DVDs, research, etc.)

Also see this NY Times video: Strengthening the Core – The science of back pain and how to prevent it: Dr. Vijay Vad of the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City explains.

Dr. Vad prescribes a combination of muscle strengthening, stretching and endurance with one main difference that I’d not heard of ever before: an emphasis on the hips.

… The other was to conduct a research study into why low back pain is so prevalent among professional tennis players. The study I conducted found that the players most susceptible to low back pain had the least range of motion in the hips. In 2001 the PGA asked me to do a parallel study of professional golfers. This study produced the same results, showing a significant link between a restricted range of motion in the hips and the incidence of low back pain. This finding is important for the rest of us, whether we are fitter than average or committed couch potatoes, because of the sedentary nature of modern life and work. Sitting in chairs, which most of us do for long hours every day at work, school, and home, leads inexorably to a restricted range of motion in the hips. The Back Rx program accordingly features exercises specifically designed to counteract this tendency and increase the range of motion in the hips.

I started with the set of Series A exercises in Feb. 2007, 20 minutes, every other day. It took me 2 months to do those completely pain free. I was feeling so much better that I went back to both racquetball and motorcycle trials competition early last summer. No problemo. By fall, I was pain free doing Series B so I started with the most difficult set of Series C exercises. I was pain free doing those by December and was feeling so cocky that I decided to return to snowboarding after a 5-year layoff. Yeehaw! I wiped out dozens of times every time I went with no problems. (I dinged my shoulder but that’s another story.)

I’m still doing Series C every other day and expect that I’ll need to do that for the next 50-60 years so I can still keep doing the sports I love.

Moral of the story: support your local public library.

And if you want a copy of the book to own, support your local bookstore. I’m sure both Locally Grown regular contributors David Schlosser at River City Books or Jerry Bilek at Monkey See Monkey Read can get it for you.

One Comment

  1. Griff Wigley said:

    My racquetball buddy, Tony Pierre, pointed out to me that Dr. Vad has a newer book out called Golf Rx: A 15-Minute-a-Day Core Program for More Yards and Less Pain.

    He also alerted me that Google Books has a preview of the book here


    June 10, 2008

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