Tag: squat

Your Knees Hurts and It’s Your Fault!

Lets face it, when our joints are in pain, the normal reaction would be “what can I buy to deal with it?” In this age of modern technological advances, most people want instant solution. The new being infinitely better than the old. Hence if your foot arch, ankle or knees hurt, getting the latest and greatest gait analysis combined with the latest and greatest cushioning technology should be able to take care of it right?

Why It Doesn’t Make Sense

For those that believe in a creator of the universe, its hard to argue that humans are not created for running and walking. And for those that believed in the theory of evolution, then our ancestors have been walking on two legs for over 3 million years. Projectile weapons (spears) started being used by humans approximately 71,000 years ago. That means that over the majority of our existence, we had to hunt our way to our food by running.

Another thing to consider is the fact that cushioned running shoes only existed for less than half a century. That means that people that cannot walk and run efficiently over the past several millennium will simply get erased off the gene pool.

What Is Causing All The Problems

Just like people with low back pain, people with knee and foot arch pain tend to be looking for a magic pill or magic device they can simply buy to solve all their problems. If not, surgery is the way! This sort of thinking pattern is problematic because outside intervention has its own complications.

The fact is, unless a person is having a rare genetic disorder or experienced a traumatic event (major accident), the typical issue you find on the average population is simply due to the way modern society has evolved:

  1. Over the past 2 generations an increasing number of roads are being smoothly paved, which is great for many things but also causes us to loose our proprioceptive sense from our feet, i.e. we don’t need as much feedback from our feet on the road conditions.
  2. More people simply spend most of their lives sitting down.
  3. The proliferation of bodybuilding principle in the medical world where each muscle has its own individual function. The fact is, most common movement pattern requires a variety of muscles to work together in synchronization.

The Solution

The good news is that the answer to the problem is relatively simple. People need to learn how to squat, lunge and walk with proper forms. Proper forms as in knees not bent inwards, no inward ankle pronation, and how to generate power from the hips. Proper training in these lower body movement patterns will translate to joint conserving daily movements.

The bad news is unlike supplements, accessories and surgery, this is not an instant solution. People need to train regularly, with proper trainer, experiencing gradual improvement. This is a different mindset with what modern society is trying to offer but this is the natural, better way.

This is not to say that specialty shoes don’t have their time and place. The writer of this article himself owns different pairs of shoes for Olympic weightlifting, hiking, and running. The point is that training for proper force alignment will give far superior end results than simply having a specialized shoe to correct an injury causing force alignment.

Low Back Pain and Why You Deserved It!

Common sense #1: that if you hit your thumb with a hammer while trying to drive a nail into the wall, then your best bet is probably make sure that nothing touches your thumb until its no longer sensitive to pain. This process might take a while, depending on how hard you hit your thumb, how heavy the hammer was, and how fast your natural healing process work. Repeatedly hitting your thumb with the hammer will not make it tougher. It will make it more sensitive and further damage the thumb. Keep on hitting your thumb non-stop and it will become so painful that a slight graze will make you feel incredibly painful.

Common sense #2: is that the spine heals at much slower rate than any other tissue in the human body. Like several order of magnitude slower.

Last but not least, Common sense #3: that if you experience pain, then the best method of curing it is finding the cause of the pain and eliminate it.”What doesn’t kill you will only make you stronger”….. or make you crippled.

Some of my personal close friend and relatives are struggling with low back pain on a daily basis. And yet a lot of them (as was I) have daily habits that is basically bad for their back. Now even a whole world of physio exercise would not give long lasting solution if they continue to “scab the mound” and re-injuring their damaged back. Same goes to electromagnetic frequency therapy. Remember common sense #1. Unless you get rid of the cause, the injury will not heal itself and continues to re-occur. So you must practice spine hygiene to allow your back to heal itself as you continue your daily activities pain-free.

Surgeries only works if the cause of your pain is a traumatic accident. So if you are having episodic back pain or you can experience good and bad days, then surgery is definitely NOT for you. This is based on Dr. Stuart McGill from University of Waterloo’s clinical and lab experience of over 30 years. Even if you insisted on getting the surgery to “fix” your back, if you don’t practice healthy spine hygiene, you will only get repeated injury at different locations from where you were cut up.

So below are some practical spine hygiene guidelines you should be doing if you are one of those struggling with low back pain:

  1. If a particular exercise hurts you in the joints, stop it. I have trained people with great result in terms of muscle mass gain and body fat loss. Some muscle ache is normal if you are de-conditioned. But joint pain, and more importantly, spine pain? That’s a big no-no. For back pained individuals, you should avoid certain exercises that includes, sit ups, crunches, pilates roll ups, and some yoga poses. If you often hits the gym and you find deadlifts and squats hurt your back, you might be doing some “butt wink” and you need to get it fixed. You might actually have a disc bulge. Not everybody is born with the hip physiology to do a deep ass-to-grass squat and not everybody can pick the bar off the floor. Come and see me to asses your hip and fix your deadlift and squat mechanics. Remember common sense #3.
  2. Move from the hips not the back. And I’m talking about incorporating this in your daily life like when you sit, tie shoes, lie down and pick things up. Remember common sense #1. If you feel pain from doing these list of activities, then you most likely uses your lower back as the prime mover, not the hips. If you want to read more on proper training drills that will help you do these activities pain-free, please read more of Dr. McGill’s book,.
  3. Sit straight in neutral spine position. Now I must admit that this is something I need to remind myself often. But if your back is no longer in pristine condition and you sit in slouched position over extended period, you would most likely stand up feeling pain afterwards. One of the solutions is to have proper lumbar support in your car and chair. No bean bag chairs!
  4. Healing takes time! Remember common sense #2. You will need to commit yourself to your healing process over extended period. Best to incorporate them as part of your daily habit. So if you only do them during the physio appointment, don’t expect any improvement.

OK. So actually, you don’t really deserve your back pain. Most of our lives we have simply been lied to about what we should do to make it healthy. Be it by some yoga master (anybody knows any gold medal winning yogi?) or massage therapist that insisted we should mobilize our spine. I for one had the fog lifted up from my eyes (and had my squat and DL numbers up by 50% pain free!!!) after I had the McGill training and I hope to share this knowledge with you. Of course now that you are starting to know better, you owe it to yourself to practice it and begin the journey towards a healthier back!

If you want to learn more on how to not only be living pain free, but also become more athletic, then I highly recommend you learn more from Back Mechanics: Step by Step McGill Method to fix Back Pain. If you are an amateur or professional athlete that needs that iron core but already got your back compromised (no weighted sit ups, crunches, wiper and other stupid stuff I used to do), then I highly recommend you read Ultimate Back Fitness and Performance for advance core training of gold medal winning athletes.