After suffering from chronic back pain for the last couple of months and it getting significantly worse over Christmas, I finally admitted defeat and saw my local GP...
Despite not training over the Festive Period - I took 2 weeks off to spend properly with Kat and Finn - my lower back pain seemed to get worse rather than better, to the point where some very early morning or midnight feeds Kat had to lift Finn out of his SnuzPod so I could carry him out of the room! Obviously this isn't sustainable as the point of sharing feeds in the night is that at least one of you gets some extra sleep. It was also a bit alarming that it clearly wasn't the gym causing my issues. Having said that, I was a little relieved that the way I train wasn't the reason for my back issues...
Typically, the GP didn't seem too interested in what I was saying or what my symptoms were and how we could fix them; he latched on to the fact that several years ago (and when I say several I mean at least 5-6), I got diagnosed with a bulging disc in my lumbar spine - MRI verified! Therefore, I must have aggravated this again and should see a Physio, take some painkillers, etc. and learn to live with it, bla bla bla. Cheers.
The only upside to this situation being that the Physio would be covered by the NHS and I also got some co-codamol a damn-sight stronger than I was expecting! The downside being that I didn't want to "live with it" and take painkillers all the time - I wanted it fixed goddammit!!! I know I'm in my 30s, but I'm still a young man and want to be active with my son as he grows up; I still get ID'd in ASDA for fuck's sake!
So I went to the Physio and guess what? I don't have a significant disc problem. He conducted a full assessment and apparently I don't move like someone with disc problems, at all. Now here's a wee fact for you; most people will have some level of disc degeneration or disc bulge nowadays (sitting down a lot, driving, not lifting things correctly, etc.), but they won't necessarily suffer with it. If we were to take 100 people off the street and conduct an MRI on them all, at least 70-75 of them would apparently have some form of disc problem! Crazy huh?
After assessing my back, the Physio confirmed that I seem to have a mild Scoliosis in my mid back; which basically means that my spine is slightly bent and in my case, bends ever-so-slightly to the right. Brilliant! Now what? Well, apparently I could've had this for years and never suffered from it and it probably won't get worse and there's nothing I can do to fix it. Also brilliant! It does explain however, why I may be more susceptible to lower back issues if I have over/under compensating muscles within my bio-mechanics...
The Physio did mention that the reason I may be suffering from this latest bout of pain/inflammation could be directly correlated with the birth of Finn. Moving forward, I should be more mindful of how I pick him up, bend over, carry him around, etc. to ensure that I don't make it worse.
The good news is that he thinks I'm in good nick, don't actually need further physio and can manage the pain/issue with some simple stretching on a daily basis.
The take home here is that as a new dad or parent, we really need to be thinking about how we move with and around our children. We're constantly picking them up, carrying them about, bending over them, moving and twisting and doing all kinds of contortionist-style actions and never thinking about how this could be affecting our bodies. We need to ensure that we remain limber in the lumbar (I'm coining that phrase!) and hopefully we can avoid long-term pain or back issues...
As I returned to the gym and really started thinking about how I move (all the time), the pain has certainly decreased. I only take my co-codamol at night before bed and I have completely overhauled the way in which I train in the gym. Everyone has different bio-mechanics and we need to be mindful (there's that word again!) about what our bodies are capable of and what they're not. I for one, can no longer do loaded back squats or heavy deadlifts. They just don't work for my body. I will go into more detail how I train in another post, as that is a beast of it's own to write about...
I've also started to experiment with a couple of new (to me) supplements in the hopes that I can repair any damage to the tissues in my back naturally and as a huge proponent of natural remedies, I will always seek them out over pharmaceuticals first.
My current "back support" regimen looks like this:
Turmeric (standardised to 95% curcumin)
Glucosamine, Chondroitin & MSM complex
Hyaluronic Acid with CoQ10 - new addition
Collagen (types I & II) - new addition
I take the above daily and in addition to my usual vitamins and minerals - all as part of a healthy, balanced lifestyle of course - and whilst it may look like it could be costly, it isn't. I do my research and I shop around. Plus, Amazon. I also know what works for me and why it does work.
On Monday I had my first workout in months without pain, so something must be working! :)