“If I only could explain how much I miss that precious moment when I was free from the shackles of chronic pain.” ― Jenni Johanna Toivonen
Lower back pain… Like many others, and even though at the moment of writing this I’m just 26 years young, I suffered from it for many years. It always seemed like a never ending story. Whether I laid in bed, stood up, bent forward, sat still or walked around: an uncomfortable and painful feeling was always present in my lower back.
In my case, it started about 6 or 7 years ago. I was spending excessive amounts of time in the gym, regularly asking to much of my body. Already suffering from lower back pain, I started taking isotretinoin (AKA Accutane or Roaccutane) for a lengthy period of time as a treatment for my acne, while I was still beating up my body in the gym. Not a good combination.
Luckily, I re-stumbled upon a quick and easy fix which made my back pain disappear like snow melting in the sun….
When I was around 10, a physical therapists actually already showed me this exercise. However, as a 10 year old boy does with prescribed exercises he doesn’t want to perform, I pretty much ignored it but certainly didn’t pay real attention. Little did I know that I would be needing it so bad years later. Luckily, I bought The 4-Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferriss about 10 months ago, which in turn led me to ask a copy of The 4-Hour Body for my birthday. There it was again at the bottom of page 303, the exact same exercise my physical therapists showed me years ago: the Static Back exercise according to the Egoscue Method.
It’s extremely simple and can be performed pretty much anywhere because your basically just lying on the floor. As long as you have an elevation of some sort on which you can place your calves with your knees bent at approximately 90° so your butt is (almost) touching the elevating object and you have some space to spread your arms at approximately 45°, your good to go. Nothing to lose, I immediately gave it a try. Boy am I happy that I did…
In the hope I can help you relieve your lower back pain and hugely inspired by the image in The 4-Hour body, I made a quick sketch to make things a whole lot easier to understand. As you might see, I’m not overly skilled at drawing but I don’t really care because I think it fits its purpose…
Now, there are some things you should know to perform this exercise effectively.
1. When you’re lying down just like the handsome guy in my not so handsome drawing, relax your upper back and make sure you’re lying straight in front of the elevating object so your lower back touches the floor evenly on the left as it does on the right.
2. Spread your arms out at approximately 45° with your palms up while you make sure that your thumbs touch the floor.
3. Don’t rush it. Keep lying for at least five minutes, preferably longer. My back tends to just start relaxing after five minutes, only after that do I actually feel my pain go away. This is why I usually take until my feet start tingling because of a reduction in blood flow, or I feel like I had enough which, in either case, usually takes approximately 20 minutes.
The elevating object (a block in this drawing) can be anything which allows you to put your calves on so that you can have the correct angle between your butt and calves while also being able to relax. If, in any way, you feel like you have to make an effort holding your body in the right position, you’re probably doing it wrong. In order to overcome this problem, I suggest using an office chair. Being able to adjust the height on which you lay you calves (as with an office chair) makes performing this exercise quickly and effectively a lot easier. However, in case you can only use a regular chair which turns out to be to low, putting a pillow on the seat might also just do the trick.
I’m having such an arched back that I actually have to pull my knees a bit towards my face in order to decrease the angle between my butt and calves just enough so my butt bends a bit from the floor and my lower back actually touches the floor. Try the same if you feel like your lower back isn’t relaxing and/or isn’t touching the floor.
Performing the Static Back Egoscue Method on a regular basis not only relieves me from my back pain, but it also feels like it increases the time it takes before my back starts hurting again. Basically, I feel like the more I perform this exercise, the less back pain I have in general.
Please bear in mind that I‘m not an expert. I’m an expert. Honestly I don’t expect it to work for everyone. That being said, I hope it does for you…
Luckily, if it doesn’t, this is just an example of what you can try to relieve yourself from your back pain. In The 4-Hour body, Tim Ferriss describes five other egoscue exercises you can try. If you haven’t read The 4-Hour body yet, I think you should. It will most likely improve your quality of life and may even extend your actual lifetime (not likely because of these pain relief exercises, but all other info just might). However, if you don’t feel like buying the book and you still want to know more about exercises similar to the one I’ve described, searching for “egoscue exercises” at google.com or youtube.com probably is the best place to start.
As always, I hope I’ll be able to help at least one person on the planet with this post, even if it may just be in the smallest way possible.
Please feel free to comment to improve this post or to let me know what your thoughts and/or experiences are. Also, do not hesitate to share any helpful stuff. If you decide to comment, please make sure to be nice at all times. Founded criticism is OK, but any rudeness will get your stuff deleted. Also, make sure to use your personal name, don’t use any business names and don’t put your URL in the comment.