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Back Injury v2.0 and Gameplan


Back Picture


It’s BACK. Literally.

Not in the good sense. Just one year after my lower back injury that sidelined me most of last Spring, I recently had a recurrence of lower back pain. The trauma was again induced by simple events in everyday life, like carrying my kids. The pain was significant and my core mobility was limited for days. With that said, the recurrence tells me that the event last year was not a one time issue and there may be more chronic issues to consider.

Although I had a nice recovery last year after my lower back injury including several mud races, challenging hiking trip to Yellowstone and MANY workouts, I still clearly need to take a look at ways to maintain and improve my situation for long-term lifestyle and success. To do that, I need to understand the challenges I face.

In addition to a lot of the precautions that worked well for my back recovery last year including deep tissue massage, adjustments, ice/heat, ibuprofen, foam rolling, etc., I was able to get some X-Ray scans as a next step to understanding the issues. The X-Rays were quite revealing (especially the pelvic view, which I will not show:)

Below are the side and front facing views of my spine, respectively. I share these for informational purposes hoping it may inspire others with back injuries or otherwise to be more pro-active. I am not a medical doctor or chiropractor, but feel I understand generally what is going on here.


X-Ray Side View

X-Ray Side View


X-Ray Front View

X-Ray Front View


Of course there are very detailed and professional scientific reports that accompany the scans above, but the bottom line is that I have been walking around with some issues, likely for many years. I realize that there are many people walking around with similar issues, being just one traumatic event away from more serious pain like me.

It appears that the information of specific interest points toward several issues…


1) Spine is misaligned with some rotation in lower spine

2) Hips are not level related to length mismatch of my legs (as little as 7mm, but noticeable enough)

3) Degeneration of select vertebrae (evidenced by side view where the shape of the bones are not all square per typical)

4) Some compression on vertebrae, especially in lower back, and reduced disc spacing


X-Rays will not necessarily tell you if you have any herniation or bulging disc, although my understanding is that those types of pains lead to some shooting pain down legs to feet or otherwise. MRI would confirm.

I have come to the realization that the sudden back pain is really a consequence of a number of factors. In my case, I think these factors could be at play…


1) Played competitive sports from childhood through college and took some serious punishment to my body

2) Left leg is longer than right leg leading to some compensation issues

3) Several knee injuries and surgeries, likely causing over-compensation in my posture and alignment

4) Relatively poor posture (always been a problem for me!)

5) I am very active with demanding workouts and activities

6) Carrying young kids on my left side for recent years to keep right hand free for functional purposes


I think these factors drove a lot of what you see visually in the X-Ray scans above. Simple, everyday events can then trigger your body to shut down with muscle spasms as nerves become sensitive. A child jumping into my arms can cause my entire lower back to lock up to the point where I can’t get off the floor for 15 minutes and need help walking. Yes, that happened… TWICE now in only 1 year!!

Besides the lower back, I have also had some pain wrapping around the sides and into the groin area. I have been told that my psoas, hip flexors and IT Band are tight, and that this is all connected throughout my core and back (see image below).


Psoas Connection


So what am I going to do about it this time? Well, first things, I am MUCH better today now several weeks removed from the re-injury. I continue with the adjustments, massage, ice/heat, stretching, foam rolling, etc. We also have an inversion table now so I am using that several minutes per day to help stretch and relax the back muscles (and maybe even align the spine). I will continue monthly adjustments this time. Last year I stopped after I felt better, which does not always mean that you are fixed, right?

I plan to get orthotics to help balance my legs and the pressure/compensation on my spine. I am also seeing great results already from a gentle program designed to increase flexibility, tone muscle, engage core, and improve balance and range of motion called Tai Cheng. Highly recommended for those in rehab or need to develop foundation, balance and strength. I will add in more activities in the coming months as I feel capable. Healthy nutrition will be critical to stay on track.

Will all this help? I think so. I know that there is a long road to resolving any of the issues shown in the X-Rays with consistent, proper treatment and targeted exercise. I also know that some of the issues like degeneration are not reversible and I need to make some changes to help stop the issues from getting worse. If I don’t see any improvement or have another serious setback I will be having an MRI to further evaluate. Interestingly enough, I have been told that many people are walking around with disc herniations and don’t even know it, and that a lot of the treatment would be similar to current rehab (outside of shots to reduce pain and surgery in more extreme cases).

Lower back injuries are no joke and I highly recommend that we all take them very serious. Hope this was useful and I will continue to update progress my friends!!




Note: Any doctors or chiropractors reading this that can offer additional direction or insight I am always open to suggestions at Thanks!


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Premiere 5 Star Diamond Independent Beachbody Coach, CEO and Founder of TEAM RAGE, Mike Nowak Fitness, and How Do I Get Ripped, LLC. You are about to learn how I went from out-of-shape busy dad with significant travel, 2 kids and a wife to losing 20 pounds, 16% body fat and 7" off my waist while getting paid more income from home than my Ph.D. in Science & Engineering. Retired my Ph.D. career to focus on FAMILY & FITNESS!


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