A few years ago, after many months of intense exercise, I developed a serious back and neck pain problem. At first I wanted to blame the program I was doing, which was P90X, the famous Beachbody Home Fitness program that I loved, but I soon started to realize that the issue was a lot more complex than that. At 5’10” I unfortunately had years of poor posture, including making the common mistake of overworking the muscles in the front of my body ie. chest, abs, quads, and not focusing nearly enough on the muscles in the back of my body including upper back, glutes and hamstrings. This is a common cause of creating an imbalance in the muscles, with the body constantly trying to re-align itself to better posture, while fighting against the contracted muscles of the front of the body. It seems really simple to understand but I, like most people, tend to enjoy working more of what we can actually see in the mirror and I was guilty of not looking at my body objectively the way I always do when I train a client.
Because of this imbalance, my lower and middle back, as well as my neck*, hurt constantly. To make matters worse, I was told after an MRI that the pain was not caused by a muscular imbalance, but rather by herniated discs and arthritis. It’s too long to explain here why I later came to the conclusion that this idea is not valid, but you can learn more by reading Healing Back Pain: The Mind-Body Connection, by Dr. Sarno. (At first, I was completely opposed to the ideas in this book, but the more I read, the more I was convinced at the validity of the content).
Anyhow, after the MRI, it was recommended that I go to physiotherapy and stop exercising; I was also told I would probably never be able to workout that intensely again, which caused a great deal of psychological stress and worry (again, see Dr. Sarno’s book, above, which explains how this creates a cycle of increasingly more pain). I ended up going to numerous physiotherapists and chiropractors, as well as specialists in acupuncture and nothing, I mean NOTHING helped – in many cases I just felt worse, with pain that extended into my head, behind my eyes, down my left arm and into my knees – even into my right foot. At this point I was really frightened and depressed so I contemplated paying thousands of dollars for spinal decompression, which may work for some people but (a) I couldn’t afford it and (b) frankly it scared the hell out of me after reading some patient reviews. I also want to note that, as a Holistic Nutritionist, I was taking all the “right” supplements such as Curcumin, EFA’s and following an anti-inflammatory diet, but it simply wasn’t enough to correct the problem. Although they certainly helped decrease my level of pain and I would recommend it, when the cause of the problem is structural, those imbalances must be corrected. Unfortunately, the particular “specialists” I went to were as clueless as I was and gave me ineffective treatments and exercises that only made the issue worse.
After about a year of suffering, interestingly through an upgrading course I was taking online, I finally found someone who was able to help me in ways I never thought possible – a chiropractor named Dr. Nick Tsaggarelis, who specializes in Active Release Technique. In this technique, according to the description of the method, “the provider uses his or her hands to evaluate the texture, tightness and mobility of the soft tissue. Using hand pressure, the practitioner works to remove or break up the fibrous adhesions, with the stretching motions generally in the direction of venous and lymphatic flow, although the opposite direction may occasionally be used.”
Well, here’s MY description:
It hurts like hell! No really, it does. I’m pretty sure I cried the first time and cursed out Dr. Nick like a trucker. Apparently this is not an uncommon reaction since he merely smiled and continued torturing me. Obviously, it was well worth it, because after a few sessions, along with the back pain home exercise program he helped to create called the FPR Program, I was finally pain free. You can’t imagine the relief I felt at knowing that I could continue to do the things I love, with only a few minor modifications to prevent that type of pain again. The knowledge I gained regarding muscular imbalance was invaluable as well and has helped me work with my clients more effectively.
So what is the FPR Program?
FPR – or the “Feeling Pretty Remarkable” Program, is a series of straightforward, easy to follow exercise programs created by leading medical professionals that you can do in the privacy of your own home for 15 minutes a day. It does not require fancy equipment or a lot of space; they were to designed to be simple and effective by re-training the muscles of the body that are out of balance and, in turn, make you pain-free. There are 4 levels t each program, so you start off easy and progress every 3 weeks over a 12 week period, at which point you will be amazed at how much better your back feels. The FPR knee pain relief program is equally as effective if your pain is focused in or around your knee joint.
Please note that I would never endorse these products if I didn’t use them myself and recommend them to many of my clients, all of whom have experienced excellent results. I’m happy to report that, even after several years, I am still able to do high intensity exercise programs and I am mostly pain-free, except when I overwork certain muscle groups. When this happens, I simply take a break for a few days, and do the exercises I learned in the FPR programs. Occasionally, I will re-visit my chiropractor and have some torture – I mean, active release technique – done on me in order to maintain my active lifestyle.
To purchase the FPR Back Program, click HERE.
To purchase the FPR Knee Program, click HERE.
If you have any questions regarding either of the above programs, please ask in the comments below and I will be happy to help you as best as I can.
*Although the low back pain program was not specifically designed for neck pain, in my particular case it helped for neck pain as well as low back pain. Please consult with your Doctor, Chiropractor or other specialist if you have neck pain before doing the FPR low-back program.