Pain Relief For Arthritis Happy Valley & Sandy, OR

How My Beard Beat Low Back Pain

How My Beard How My Beard Beat Low Back PainWe recently had a conversation with a friend with a long history of back pain that likely stemmed from questionable technique with lifting, both in the gym and at work. The information and advice that he had received at the time of his injury was little to no help and painted a bleak picture of the future based upon his MRI results. His pain continued to get worse with putting on weight and when he left a highly physically demanding job to go back to college and a desk job. After several attempts, over many years, to lose weight and control pain by diet alone he has added a new component to his plan, exercise. Exercise has been shown to help maintain healthy weight after dietary changes have provided the weight loss needed while core stability exercises improve the techniques that are used to lift, carry and maintain posture. We love this story because he was able to get back on track without giving up his busy life and continues to enjoy time with his family. We took the liberty to “bold” what we feel are the most important parts of his story.

Dan rocking out with his band “Come Up Swinging.” He is an avid guitar player and ranges in styles from blues to puck rock with high energy shows.

Ascent: Tell me about the history of your back pain, activities etc.

Dan: I played football and basketball in high school, and lifted weights regularly in high school. Our weight lifting class was graded based on max lifts. I was tall and pretty well built, with short legs given my height – and a long torso – as such my squats and bench were never my strong suit, and I had to make up weight on cleans. I used to clean almost as much as I could squat – with really bad form. This was the start of my back problems, with sporadic spasms starting in high school.

I joined the Army after high school and had a job which required pretty constant lifting of heavy equipment in and out of trucks on a regular basis. My roommate (in the Army) and I both developed fairly debilitating back issues at about the same time – I spoke with him on the phone recently (he had made E-7 long after I got out of the Army, and he was being medically discharged) – he attributes his back problems to the same incident that I do. He and I had to load up about 10 large trucks with snow chains – which were stored in steel cans and weighed a lot (large chains for large tires). Usually, we used a truck mounted crane to load the trucks – but due to a shortage of time and a lot of trucks needing loading, we muscled them up and into the cargo section of the trucks.

I recall being treated by the doc with Demerol shots and Valium when my back flared up. I’d get spasms which would wrench my torso off to one side, coupled with intense pain. It took about a year between doctor visits and follow ups to finally get a MRI competed. I waited quite a while for films to be returned, and they were literally handed to me the same day I was processing out of the Army. I wasn’t able to schedule a follow up appointment with anyone, and in desperation, found a doctor walking through the lobby and asked him to look at my film. He held the film up under the fluorescent lobby lights, and said “wow – your back is screwed up. You’re going to have problems when you’re older.” And that was that. I left the Army with my MRI films, which are sitting in my hallway closet.

I got married in the Army, and have 3 kids. I went to college, then law school, and I have a private law practice presently. I went from weighing about 225 in the Army to weighing about 260, with relatively little muscle mass. I didn’t work out at all given my back problems, and had frequent bouts with terrible back spasms. Muscle relaxers didn’t work well, and I generally opted for a few glasses of Scotch whisky instead of meds. When the kids were little, I couldn’t carry them around for long periods without triggering a back spasm. I was pretty upset about the problems I’ve had with my back, and with my high school weight training program and the Army for having contributed to my misery.

A: How did you go about losing weight, any diet advice?

D: My wife and I will on occasion go on little health kicks. They generally don’t last long. In May 2015 we decided to do another run at weight loss, independent of each other. I took a before picture for motivation. I was about 260lbs and in terrible shape – although I’d been 270+ at times over the past few years.

I went on a low calorie high protein low carb diet for about 10 weeks and dropped 50 pounds. Toward the end, I started lifting weights, and introduced carbs and normal food, while avoiding sugar drinks and sugar in general, with some cheat days here and there.

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Before Diet at 256 lbs exercising about 0 days a week.

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After 10 weeks of diet and staring exercise at 206 lbs

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Adding isometric core exercises and basic weight training to his 4x/week exercise program

A: What are you doing for exercise, how do you find time, how do you deal with upsets to your exercise/diet?

D: I started reassembling my weight room in some open space at my office. I have free weights and cable machines, and a great set of stairs which I run for cardio. I try and work out at the end of the work day on most days of the week. Usually 4 week days and 1 weekend day. I mostly do weight training with some occasional cardio. I have been doing a lot of isometric core exercises to stabilize my back, and have not had any major back issues for 4-5 months, which is a record for me. I attribute this to weight loss and core strength.

A: Any advice for other people?

D: Not really. Diet, exercises and form (with exercise and activities), etc.

A: What, if any, goals do you have for the future?

I’d like to burn off a bit more fat. I went from 257 to 207, and hover around 212 now that I’m lifting and taking in more calories. I’d like to keep my weight about the same, but bulk up a bit with muscle and cut some more fat.

A: Does your beard actually give you control over small woodland creatures?

D: Yes. A wild bird let me pick it up recently. True story. It was stuck in my garage and my cat was chasing it. Growing a beard taught me patience, and it takes patience to get in shape, to adjust to a new diet, to get into a workout routine (and to start out lifting less weight than you did at age 14 when you’re now 33 years old).

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There is something empowering about the feeling of accomplishment that you get when you reach a goal, especially one that improves your health, controls chronic pain and enables you to be more active with your children. The beard is getting fairly commanding as well.

A:Do you feel you would have started this process of weight loss and exercise sooner if you had people to do it with or if you had other people around you to get active with? How does the relatively limited exercise and activity options in Miles City impact how you choose to exercise?

D: I think that the fact that a few of my buddies have also had mid-life crises health kicks helped motivate me to get in shape. I think that the most important factor was the decision to get in shape and be healthy, and to commit to doing so.

A: Is it okay if we follow up with you in a few months to see how your change in diet and exercise is affecting your back pain?

D: Absolutely.

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