• Why wont my nagging back injury clear up?

    By The W10 Team

    Back pain

    So according to government statistics, a fairly sizable proportion of the country either suffers or has suffered with some kind of back pain. That’s probably not news to you I would imagine that if, like me you have had a back issue then you know how debilitating and frustrating it can be.

    An issue in the back can take years to manifest itself as pain and become a problem, assuming that it’s not a contact injury like getting kneed in the back playing rugby. More often that not in athletes and clients I have worked with (myself included) the actual injury, be it a disc herniation, stress fracture etc. is the result of poor biomechanics (movement) somewhere above or below the joint and or improper volume and intensity of work being done. This ‘work’ does not necessarily mean work in the gym, it can mean way too much time sat at a desk causing spinal ligaments to ‘work’ in a compromised position for hours on end or repetitive lifting of awkward furniture or kids!

    One of the world authorities on low back pain is Dr Stuart McGill. He describes how every human being only has so much ‘capacity’ for work. This capacity is degraded every time we do something beyond the tolerance of our bodies’ capabilities. Using this idea it is easy to understand how it can take years of poor mechanics for a back injury to actually manifest itself. We can be happily picking things up with a horribly rounded back position for years with no issue what so ever the BANG! Herniated disc! That’s more than enough on how and why we get hurt… Key point, do as much as you can to move well in EVERYTHING you do.

    Now, once we have these lower back issues they tend to last for a long time right? Correct, but they really don’t have to in the vast majority of cases.

    When the body suffers pain the brain sends a message for everything around the area to either lock up or shut down to protect it from ‘harmful’ forces. In the early stages this helps us to prevent further injury, providing we listen to our bodies and off load (rest). However, once the initial injury phase has finished the pathways between brain and muscles/tissues surrounding the injury site are not as clear as they once were. For example, when we have lower back pain the muscles around the spine generally lock up initially. Following this locking up and probably after some massage and a hot bath or two they will loosen off and feel better. At this point the individual will probably assume everything is ok and return to full training.


    The pathways between brain and the muscles that stabilize the spine have been disturbed and going back to running and jumping around like a nutter isn’t going to help them. Time must now be spent re-grooving these pathways and ‘switching on’ the stabilizing muscles/tissues to provide stability for the more fun stuff.

    How much, how often?

    Improving what’s known as ‘motor control’ is key to regaining trunk integrity and requires more than a 3 days a week approach. This approach works perfectly well for improving things such as muscle size (hypertrophy) and strength. Regaining control and activation of the muscles proving stability to the spine requires (initially) very frequent doses of low volume (number of) and intensity exercises. This will sound scary and you will be thinking can I fit it in to my day? The answer is yes. I did and I know many others who have as well. 3-5 minutes of specific trunk (core) stability exercises 3-5 times per day can have a huge effect on motor control and reduce re-injury rates massively.  The bottom line is if it is affecting your life you will find the 10-15 minutes per day!

    Of course these exercises need to be appropriate to the kind of pain/injury you have and this is by no means me saying ‘I can 100% cure your back pain’! However in many cases of people with nagging back pain the message from me is clear. YOU ARE PROBABLY NOT DOING ENOUGH REHAB WORK This will sound brash but it is almost always true and implementing this little and often, low fatiguing stability work can help a person regain the necessary control in as little as a week. This will allow them to build a foundation of trunk strength and stability to help reduce the chances of re-injury.

    Take homes.

    1. Prevention is better than cure. Nail your technique in whatever you do and don’t stress the bodies’ systems unnecessarily through excess sitting, bad lifting etc.
    1. If you have pain… De-load the area and wait for pain to subside
    1. Get checked by a physio, chiropractor etc.
    1. Once cleared to return to activity perform small doses of low fatiguing trunk and glute stability (as directed by a professional) work multiple times a day.
    1. Give it a couple of weeks to work. Be patient.
    1. If you don’t see an improvement there may be something more serious underlying.
    1. If you do, happy days… Ideally keep up a very small maintenance dose (1-2 minutes per day of a specific exercise)
    1. Re-build slowly (depending on severity on injury and time away from full training)

    Good luck!


    By Mark Taylor


You Might Also Like

Quick Browse
    • Eating healthy not losing weight

      Working out, eating well but not losing weight?


      Here’s why. So we’re well into the New Year now, and after December’s festivities you’re back into the swing of things with your training and healthy eating. You’ve done the dreaded weigh in and calculated your BMR (basal metabolic rate - the amount of calories your body needs to function at rest). From this you’ve

      Read More
    • How to get the most out of your sleep for weight loss

      7 things you can do to get the most out of your sleep


      Unless you’ve been living in a cave (in which case you wouldn’t be reading this), you’ll know that sleep is important. Most of us are probably guilty of not getting enough shut-eye and although it will vary from person to person on how much sleep we require (for most it’s 8 hours) we all need

      Read More
    • train around Lower back pain

      How To Train Around Lower Back Pain


      “In the United Kingdom, low back pain was identified as the most common cause of disability in young adults: with more than 100 million work days lost per year.” – World Health Organisation The first thing we want to point out here is that we are absolutely not trying to advise people on how to

      Read More
    • Summer bodies made in winter

      Telegraph Feature: Summer bodies are made in the winter


      "Don't save your beach-body programme for the six-week summer bootcamp dash, make it easy on yourself and start now" says our fitness blogger, W10 Founder - Jean-Claude Vacassin. It might seem a little premature to be talking about summer bodies in early January, what with the cold and dark mornings and the baggy jumper season

      Read More
    • Superfoods inhibit fat loss goals

      Are superfoods actually inhibiting your fat loss goals?


      The superfood craze: why “super” foods may not always be the best choice. Superfoods are buzzwords in health circles right now. From Buddha bowls, to raw energy balls to goji berries, it seems that everyone is jumping on the health food train. With their 100% natural, whole food tag line they must be super, right?

      Read More
    • W10 5-day fitness retreat: Ibiza 2018


      Event: Training Places - Ibiza Date: Saturday 1st September 2018 - Friday 6th September 2018 https://youtu.be/Yb2_WydS-8w Taking W10 Fitness to new places... After an incredible trip to Ibiza earlier this year, we’re excited to announce that we are going to be running the fitness retreat again in September 2018. Set on the hills of s’Estanyol near

      Read More

Start Your 30 Day Trial Today

If you’re ready to make a change, you can start now. Register online and book your first session today.

Start Today

Set up in 2009 by founder Jean-Claude Vacassin (a regular health and fitness contributor to the Daily Telegraph) the W10 Performance gym is located in West London at 202-208 Kensal Road, London W10 5BN. W10’s Gym memberships offer personal training, nutrition advice, yoga, boxing, HITT and other functional fitness classes. They also have physio and sports massage practitioners onsite. They are proud to offer a high level of fitness to residents and local workers in Kensal Rise, Kensal Green, Queens Park, Willesden, Kilburn, Harlesden, Ladbroke Grove, Notting Hill, Kensington and Westbourne Park areas.


Find us The Basement, 202-208 Kensal Road, London W10 5BN

Call us on 020 3489 5428