The NY Times on foot orthotics, exercises and other preventative steps for a healthy lower back.
If your looking for an easy solution to back problems or preventing them altogether, there is no one easy solution.
The understanding of why back problems occur or what to do to prevent back pain requires a multifaceted approach. The sure way to fail at back pain management is to rely on one thing, whether it be exercises, foot orthotics or some other item.
While we recommend foot orthotics regularly, with off the shelf inserts being the most common, custom foot orthotics can be either well designed or poorly implemented due to understanding the patient and poor casting technique, which will skew many studies looking at how effective they are. Since there are a variety of body styles, even off the shelf is hardly a one size fits all solution, which is why we offer three different brands with different types of fit or intention. For them to work properly, your hips must not be distorted wearing them. Level hips assure a more efficient core and better body mechanics, as well as a better response of the myofascial, since it molds according to the forces we place upon it. For more information about how the fascial and skeletal system works, read Cheating Mother Nature, what you need to know to beat chronic pain.
Exercise helps as well, but it is also not a panacea, since a distorted core, something that is corrected by properly made or selected foot orthotics is essential for improved core function, which is likely to prevent back and even foot, knee, shoulder and neck problems.
The problem of back, neck, knee and shoulder pain is actually, according to many modern sources, more a problem of movement than anything else. The way the body moves will determine the way you feel and function. Looking at the parts rather than the mechanism is often what causes chronic back and disc problems. This is based off of 30 years of experience as well ads some of the latest ideas in more effective care for the back. Unfortunately, often the parts are looked at resulting in pain, disability, bad surgical outcomes and expensive solutions that cause back problems rather than prevent them.
A higher profile example is of Frank Curzio, who runs a wonderful financial podcast. Since I have been listening to him, he is contemplating his third back surgery, which he attributes to the sins of his youth. He discusses this openly with his listeners at the beginning of his most recent podcast. While I do not know Frank personally, the fact is the more back surgeries you have, the worse the back problems become since they are treating the symptom (back and disc problems), and ignoring the fact he has problems with the way his body moves, causing shearing forces in the lower back damaging discs. Also, each successive surgery causes the development of scar tissue and the surgeons, even with the latest and greatest replacement discs often cause problems unwittingly in other areas of the spine, while never addressing the mechanism that causes the damage in the first place.
I hope Frank read my email to him and perhaps, sees a different type of professional, because he likely would do better with core training, foot orthotics and a good chiropractor who knows myofascial release.
The NY Times recently looked at foot orthotics and other things that may prevent back pain. While I do not agree with the study they paraphrased on foot orthotics (too much room for provider error in how they get applied), they do have some interesting information on what to do to prevent back pain. Check it out here
To Prevent Back Pain, Orthotics Are Out, Exercise Is In
By Gretchen Reynolds January 27, 2016
Lower back pain is an almost universal if unwelcome experience. About 80 percent of those of us in the Western world can expect to suffer from disruptive lower back pain at some point in our lives. But if we begin and stick with the right type of exercise program, we might avoid a recurrence, according to a comprehensive new scientific review of back pain prevention.
Lower back pain develops for many reasons, including lifestyle, genetics, ergonomics, sports injuries, snow shoveling or just bad luck. Most often, in fact, the underlying cause is unknown.
For most people, a first episode of back pain will go away within a week or so.
However, back pain recurs with distressing frequency. By most estimates about 75 percent of people who have had one debilitating episode of lower back pain will have another within a year.