Newsletter from Harvard Medical School on Back Pain

Posted on 23 Jul 2015 21:31

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I don't really trust doctors very much because academia tends to be behind practical "in the trenches" type stuff. So you can imagine my surprise when I received this information in Harvard's newsletter.

I am subscribed to Harvard Medical College's FREE Newsletter service and I received this email today about treatment of back pain. Being a deadlifter and someone who's been lifting for a while I have had my share of muscle strains. I don't want to make this article into a sob story but the truth is that I've spent a few years in pain due to some torn muscle tissues. Now, during this time I was incorrectly advised by doctors in my country who are prejudiced about weight training; to give up lifting, do other non-physical activities, etc - the usual deterrents that doctors put forth because of their bias towards weight training.

I didn't listen to them and I kept doing what my coach and mentor Eric Troy advised me while keeping one ear to the ground to gauge the reality of the situation (as I have been taught by Eric) and here I am healthy today. Although this is my personal experience, and while I am not qualified to have a medical opinion on the matter, my observations of people who have hurt their backs in the gym is that staying away from lifting or giving up lifting is a very extreme step to take and may not really help to overcome the long term implications of your back pain.

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I am not a licensed physician or someone who can prescribe medication so I avoid even mentioning stuff like this openly but I have to speak out at moments like these. In a time where many doctors in my country try their level best to discourage weight training, I find it refreshing to see doctors at Harvard do the exact opposite. I urge you to sign up for this free newsletter service and although this is a free newsletter, it is not my place to publish it's contents verbatim. Instead, I am going to list the points I think are representative of why I think this is some excellent advice.

  1. Harvard Medical School (HMS) says that sometimes you just need to wait out the lower back pain you are experiencing and sometimes you will need something as radical as surgery. I think this is crucial because a lot of surgeons are trigger happy about cutting their patients and it is important to evaluate whether the pain will go away in due time.
  2. This leads me to my second point: HMS insists on consulting other doctors for second and third opinions when it comes to invasive treatments like surgery.
  3. There is no one size fits all solution to back pain. I have found that not many doctors have experience with treating athletes or serious gym goers. So their advice tends to be a little off and it is imperative for the patient to do his (or her) own research and make the necessary modifications to what the doctor has said in terms of treatment. I am not writing about medication because that is not my field but as far as treatment goes and returning to exercising or physical therapy - this is the stuff that is in your hands (as the patient).
  4. This is the best part of the article and I have to mention it because this site is about Lifting BIG weights!

If weak back and core muscles contributed to your back pain, you may want to start a regular exercise program to improve your fitness.

To sum this all up, don't just blindly follow what doctors recommend to you especially if they are against weight training as a personal principle. You must seek other opinions for invasive treatments to your pain and you must keep long term interests of living a pain free life.

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