"The doctor of the future will give no medicine, but will interest her or his patients
in the care of the human frame, in a proper diet, and in the cause and
prevention of disease." - Thomas A. Edison
There are two reasons why I wrote a book about back health, posture and many of the things that may affect them. I have treated patients for more than 15 years and love what I do. I always create a friendly environment in which I explain what their problems are and how they can help themselves. That is how I want to be treated, so why should it be any different for my patients.
My goal as a doctor is to treat my patients as if they are my family and to do whatever is needed, whether that was in my office or somebody else’s, so they could get relief and get back to enjoying life. I don’t mind who gets the credit for helping someone get well or feel better, as long as they do.
One day in my office I was reading yet another patient the health riot act so she could help herself. I then realized it was time to help a larger pool of people. After years of explaining things about the body, the benefits of a healthy diet, proper exercise and correct posture, I decided to write this book. The journey started in 2007.
My goal for this book is to explain difficult subjects so anyone can understand them and implement these ideas, without all the medical mumbo jumbo. Sure I may use some big words, but I will define them and use analogies that readers can relate to in their life. The book should be non-intimidating, educational and fun while offering practical solutions and applications enabling people from any background to benefit.
This book gives you an opportunity to learn how your body works to make you more responsible for your own health. When you understand how you can change the way you perform simple everyday tasks, you have a wonderful chance to regain, maintain and preserve your health.
Admittedly, there may be some dry spots due to the research studies I have included, but I will attempt to make their findings thought provoking and meaningful. I hope to do this in a light-hearted way, because learning is easier if it’s fun.
All people have interesting stories. My job is to listen and learn about your habits and lifestyle demands so I can develop an effective approach when I help you. The question is will you listen to my ideas about how you can help yourself?
If someone explains to me that he is a workout nut, like Tony, then my program for him has to be aggressive. He isn’t going to sit around. If I tell him not to do something physical or not train, he isn’t going to listen to me. As an athlete, I can relate. I want to compete too.
When Dennis had a captain and crew golf tournament his low back hurt. I told him, if he was playing, to initially let the other guys drive the ball and limit his swinging. As he got closer to finishing his day, then go ahead and swing more. That way he can participate the entire day, instead of trying to hit yards further then his team on the second hole and ruining himself for the day.
Day after day people are hindered by pain. It keeps them from things like work, family, hobbies and sleep. Many patients have come in complaining of headaches, neck pain, sciatica, or low back pain. In most cases, they have contributed or created the major source of their pain. Sometimes it is from one specific event, but many times it is from making simple repetitive movements during every component of life. This is one of the health concerns I want to address and help you correct.
People don’t realize weak muscles, unhealthy diet, lack of exercise, skeletal imbalances and stress can influence their health. Likewise these can all be affected by work, play, sleep, working out and your everyday lifestyle. So learning how to better care for your body could make a huge difference in every member of your family’s lives.
Each day we make simple mistakes that will lead to problems down the road, or we ignore the importance of caring for our bodies. I have seen many patients overlook caring for their health monetarily so they were able to get their vehicle fixed, get a special haircut or have enough money for their dinner plans. What they failed to recognize is that good health is invaluable!
The human body is too often not cared for properly, and only receives the attention it deserves, when it’s too late and you can’t get out of bed or turn your head. Now the repairs are a priority and will cost more to fix. Patients come in when they are "dying in pain" or can’t move. Now everything on the home front is on standby. Wouldn’t it be great to not let things get to that point?
So I treat them and give plenty of instructions on things they can do at home and in everyday life to help them get well and prevent injuring themselves again. Stretching, using ice or heat, lifting properly and listening to their body are just a few of the many ideas I give patients, to facilitate the healing process. Some patients listen. Some get too busy, forget or start to feel better and stop doing anything.
The more they did to help themselves with these "free" activities, the greater the chance that they would have a speedy recovery. It would help me help them. It’s a win-win. Otherwise I have threatened to follow them around all day to keep an eye on them because theoretically I only see them for 15 – 30 minutes in my office.
After that they are on their own. Usually back to doing the same things and probably doing them the same way, which led them to needing some form of care in the first place. We are creatures of habit, to a fault. You have to take some responsibility for your healing.
I have had patients tell me the treatment wasn’t working because their backs still hurt. In one instance, I asked a patient what she had been doing when she proclaimed her back pain was getting worse, after she had just improved tremendously. She responded, "I was feeling good so I tried to catch-up on cleaning my house and slipped in the tub, landing on my backside." That might have something to do with her resurgence of back pain. She is not alone.
It is no treat to have a patient come in time after time complaining. If I wanted to hear complaining, I can go home for that. Haha. Some people listen and play an active role in regaining their health. Some let the doctor do all the work, and then there are those who have decided they know what is best for their health and don’t use any recommendations. Which type of patient are you?
When a patient does get better, inevitably they forget everything that helped them get well, or stop doing the stretches once the pain is gone. Regaining your health is great. Maintaining your health is even more difficult because it is a constant battle but has greater rewards. I have to remind myself to do my stretches too.
Easy changes in our posture, nutrition, exercise and eliminating bad habits that directly affect your body could help you stay healthy and enjoy life to its fullest. It is never too late to make a change for the better.
My personal motivation for writing this book is I have experienced many of the same spinal problems as my patients. I give new meaning to the saying "doctor heal thyself." I have made mistakes. I slept on my stomach. I lifted with my back. I ate candy without a wrapper. I ran with scissors. I did it all, Baby. I lived on the edge. You can learn from these mistakes and stay well, as I have. Who better to learn from than someone who has experienced debilitating pain first hand?
For instance, when I was 27, I was completing my doctorate program. I had always been strong but lifted too much by myself or worked out improperly when I was younger. One day I bent correctly, or so I thought, and lifted our three-legged dog Cody to put him on the couch. He was battling an aggressive type of cancer called Osteosarcoma and lost his leg.
I felt a pop with pain like nothing I had experienced before and I went to my knees. Years of lifting, throwing my body around in sports, motorcycle wipeouts, etc., I had stressed my back enough that this was the final performance that finally caused my first disc bulge.
Whether it was lifting the dog or not, I had put such a large amount of stress on my spine over the years that this was the straw that broke my camel’s back. I could barely raise my leg in bed every morning. For three months I crawled after getting out of bed in an attempt to stand upright and then went to school to treat my patients. If I sat for five minutes I would have to crawl on the clinic floor to get back upright. Not pleasant.
I can’t tell you how many patients have come in doubled over complaining that they went to pick up a pen and their backs just went out. This is what happens when we ignore all the factors that affect our health, like sitting incorrectly, ignoring muscle spasms or staying flexible. Pain may come and go away initially, but eventually it will debilitate us. Been there. Done that.
No one is perfect. Especially not me. If you ask my wife she’ll be glad to tell you. In fact, she could probably write another chapter in this book about the subject.
I do many of the same things you do, and I don’t always do things correctly. Stuff always has to get done one way or another. I just try to limit the damage I may be causing by being careful and using some common sense. I’m a big believer in if you want something done, and done right, you have to do it yourself.
However if I can use my expertise and years of knowledge as a way to help you, or prevent you from experiencing pain, then it is well worth the time I invested to write this information down for you. Every little bit can help you decrease the amount of stress you put on your body and keep you pain free.
Unfortunately, no one gives us a handbook on how to care for our bodies. It would be great to turn to page 38 for instructions on what to do for headaches, why you get them and how you could help prevent them. The best instructions I received growing up were "sit up straight," "keep your head up when you walk" and "don’t do that or your face will freeze in that position." Okay, not the last one, but it is a classic.
In this book, I cover the basics first. Feel free to skip around if you already understand certain areas, but each section complements the next one. In some cases you may see a similar study or comment. That isn’t because it was real late while I was typing, but because I felt the information was worth repeating to reiterate the point.
The first section of the book is titled "Message In Your Body." It is focused on helping you understand your body, how it develops, its framework and how it works, by starting at the beginning.
Once we have this foundation I will discuss many of the factors in life like common health conditions you will come across, proper nutrition, relieving stress, proper rest, smoking, understanding posture’s importance and much more, because everything affects your health.
With more improved knowledge, healthy ideas, appreciation and respect for your body, you can prevent health problems. Now let’s be honest here. Part of this section will be a little dry due to the anatomy, science and research. I can assure you it couldn’t be me.
The information will be useful in helping you understand many of the common skeletal or muscle ailments you hear about from doctors. So after your doctor tells you that you have blah, blah, blah and it will blah, blah, blah, and you have no idea what they said, you can look it up in this book. I explained most common ailments in terms you can understand.
This is followed up by section two, "In Search Of The Healthy Grail." I discuss proper eating and dieting strategies, uncover the truth about some of the fad diets, and help you save some money you won’t waste on gimmicks and empty TV promises. This is followed up by descriptions and visual examples of ways you can workout at home, at a gym or in your office. Afterwards we cover stretching, its importance and include examples for each muscle group.
Last is section three entitled, "You Can Teach An Old Back New Tricks." This takes an in depth look at all of the things we do every day and why we can be the cause of many of our health problems. I will discuss correct and alternative ways to perform many common tasks from sunrise to sunset, so you can limit the amount of damage to your body over the years. Topics to be discussed include: ergonomics, sleeping positions, pillows, office chairs, computer workstations, laundry and more.
I won’t ask you to change or re-evaluate anything that I haven’t done for my own family, or myself. What good is knowledge if you can’t share it with someone to help enrich their life with the gift of better health? You are now my extended family. What time is dinner?