The entire article is worth a quiet, concentrated perusal.
The section of greatest interest to readers of this blog may well be the section on back pain. Lehrer discusses the oft-documented finding that vertebral disc damage (such as herniation and bulging discs) is not correlated with pain. Medical journals have been reporting these results for more than a decade, yet physicians have continued to use MRIs and x-rays to "diagnose" back-pain patients with disc damage--even when that diagnosis does nothing to explain the pain a patient is experiencing or guide their treatment.
Scratch that. I rarely have back pain due to the physical "abnormalities" in my back.
The only time I experience back pain is when
- I am inactive for an extended period of time, thus neglecting what my body was designed to do (ie, move!),
- I neglect some basic, simple, deep-core strengtheners and hip stretches that every body needs to be healthy (see The Hauber Method™, or
- I am under stress due to forces out of my control.
The same is true for my clients and students.
What does this mean for you? Simply put:
- Your body is designed to be active; when you are more active, your back has less of an opportunity to gather stagnancy and pain,
- Every body is equipped with a simple, beautifully designed system of back support that loves to be used, but none of us learns how to activate and use this system in school or from our doctors,
- Stress management is a critical component of any back-pain treatment designed to be effective for the long-term.
So why is my back pain-free, but my neighbor with a perfectly clean MRI has debilitating back pain and sciatica almost daily? I have dedicated my life to addressing the three points outlined in the list above. If my neighbor wants to be pain free, I can teach him exactly what's necessary to get rid of the pain. And I don't need an MRI, an x-ray, or any kind of diagnosis to do it. A solid foundation in functional-movement, anatomy, and body-mind fitness is all I need.
To read Jonah Lehrer's full article, click here.