Physical Therapy, Rx Pills, Injections, Research Program, Tossing, Turning, Stretching, Yoga, Acupuncture, Nutrition, Supplements, Exercise... (screams) WHY is my lower back still hurting???
Since I began practicing the Wim Hof Method I have been able to manage my chronic back pain caused by a torn disc better than anything I have tried previously. The ability for me to manage the pain without taking any painkillers or supplements has had a significant impact on my day to day life (and my wallet).
Instead of taking a potentially harmful NSAID, muscle relaxer or a painkiller, now I just have to do the WHM. By doing Wim Hof Method breathing techniques, specific stretching exercises, and taking a plunge in cold water I can completely mitigate ANY pressing pain that I have.
Breathing, Stretching & Cold Water - Really?
I know right. Who would have thought? Not me that's for sure.
However, suffering can be a great form of motivation. After trying everything under the sun to remedy my chronic lower back pain thankfully I can control it now by practicing the three pillars of the Wim Hof Method:
3. Cold Exposure
The Start of My Lower Back Pain
In 2009, I started having severe pain in my lower back/left leg and hip area. I shrugged it off and tried to “play through the pain” for about 6 months, continuing to abuse my body everyday in the gym thinking that was the only way to train.
Then, while jumping rope at the gym one day, I went down like I had been shot by a sniper. While I stared at the ceiling in immense pain, I realized I was going to have to do something about this obvious issue as playing through the pain wasn't cutting it. Five minutes later I was finally able to get to my feet (I was in an empty training room by myself, of course) and gingerly walked/limped out, tail tucked and humbled.
The next day I was getting x-rays/MRIs and confirming what I feared. I had structural damage to the L5/S1 disc (annular tear), Degenerative Disc Disease in L5/S1 space resulting in sciatic nerve inflammation, and a 12% grade scoliosis.
I was devastated. The thought of having to take time off from being physically active in order for my back to heal seemed like an unattainable goal. I mean, my entire life had been based around some sort of sport or physical activity. What was I going to do now?
The next several months consisted of me mindlessly taking the medication, pain killers and muscle relaxers the doctors had prescribed me. I didn’t think about any adverse effects of taking them either since it was “doctor prescribed”. I took the pharmaceuticals and went about the physical therapy regimen that I was placed on from the therapist I was seeing at the time, not questioning anything.
I got to a point where I just couldn’t function at work, or life for that matter. I was always in a muscle relaxer daze and since I had limited my physical activity to just the therapy routine prescribed I felt more stress than I ever had in my life.
Next up was getting rounds of corticosteroid and other injections as well as taking place in a research trial program in attempt to get the tear in the disc to close and the disc to heal. All efforts ended with me still being in pain.
The doctor’s solution at this point was a choice of invasive disc surgeries, spinal fusion or artificial disk replacement and neither was a guarantee with a possibility of it being worse.
Thanks, But No Thanks
Through this journey I became determined to heal myself as natural as possible. I know the human body is capable of extraordinary feats, I just had to learn how to get my mind and body working together. I began seeking various natural and alternative treatments such as a holistic doctor, chiropractic work, massage therapy, nutritionists, acupuncture, meditation and yoga.
I started noticing a big difference in my back pain once I started practicing Yoga regularly. Some movements seemed to exasperate the issue but that was mainly because I had limited my movement for so long in certain directions.
Once I started experimenting with whole food nutrition I was able to feel my body better manage the inflammation by the food and drink I was ingesting. I was making progress towards my goal of feeling 110% for me and my family!
I was feeling much better but had kind of hit a plateau with the protocols, supplements and everything else I had been doing. By now I had spent thousands of dollars on doctor visits, physical therapy, gadgets, classes, alternative treatments and supplements.
I was beginning to accept the lower back pain I felt was something that was going to be with me for life.
And then I was Introduced to the Wim Hof Method. Game Changer!
Thankfully a good friend of mine advised me of the Wim Hof Method
mid 2015 and told me that I should give it a try. Specifically, he wanted me to use the WHM in an attempt to reduce the inflammation in my body and get better control of some of my internal processes. I was already taking cold showers at the advice of my holistic doctor and had been practicing yoga and breathing exercises for a few years so I was immediately intrigued.
I researched online for about three months before purchasing the 10 Week online course. During that time I read every paper and watched every video on Wim and his method that I could find as I became fascinated with what he had achieved, specifically the scientific paper reporting zero inflammatory cytokines in his blood after breathing, meditation and cold exposure.
Just Breathe MotherHof'ers
I immediately noticed a difference in my mental states and the perceived pain when performing the breathing techniques. The act of breathing and being conscious of that action helps to keep me in the moment, not stressing my injury or regurgitating the same thoughts of the pain I felt or how uncomfortable I was. This alone has had a huge effect on my day to day stress levels.
After some practice, I noticed during the retention phases of breathing that I was able to get into a deep state of relaxation that I hadn't yet experienced in any other alternative treatment or meditation before. This allowed me to really relax and "turn off" my back muscles without the use of pharmaceuticals or herbs. Incredible! I can't tell you how much this alone reduced overall pain and tension in my lower back.
Mind Over Matter
When I first started the course, the thoughts of doubt and excuse ruled me (as it had for much of my life).
When it came to enduring the extreme cold, challenging myself mentally, and the physical exercises Wim demonstrates, I was fearful and intimidated.
"There is no way I can ever bend forward like that.... It will hurt my back, so I probably shouldn't even try that exercise."
"There is no way I will ever be able hold my body weight like that... it will hurt my back, so I probably shouldn't even try it."
"There is no way I will ever be able to get into ice cold water like that... I probably shouldn't even try."
These limiting thoughts are part of what I have dealt with my whole life. Practicing the Wim Hof Method lit something up inside of me. My Innerfire had been lit! I was determined to change my way of thinking and commit myself to trying new things and expanding my comfort zones. Even though I was not good at these new things and it caused me some temporary discomfort, I was going to try.
Wim became such an inspirational figure to me after learning more about his story and his triumphs and hearing his words of encouragement. This pushed me to better myself everyday using the WHM, for myself and for my family.
After some perseverance and persistence, I became able to mentally withstand the force of extreme cold. By focusing my mind and relaxing my body in the stress of the cold that gave me the ability to focus my mind when my lower back muscles would tighten up and consciously relax them.
The stretching and body weight holds that I avoided for the first few weeks have completely transformed what I thought my mind and body were capable of.
(Like this body weight hold for example. After 60 days straight of falling on my face, I did it!)
The stretches Wim utilizes in the 10 Week Online Course totally changed the flexibility and range of motion I have in my spine (and thought I would ever have due to my injury). It was incredible how the day to day lower back pain decreased once I was able to get fresh blood flow to the areas of pain and increase my physical mobility and range of motion with the stretches and holds.
The difficult body weight holds gave a me strength in which I didn't think I possessed and also the courage and confidence to try new, difficult things. I felt superhuman comparatively to how I had been feeling the previous 6 years of my life. So empowering!
The Cold, My Warm Friend
I had been taking cold showers for a while once I was introduced to the Wim Hof Method and once I started the online course I could comfortably start and end a cold shower for a couple minutes, but I had no idea how powerful of a force the cold could be.
After months of regular cold exposure via cold showers and being under dressed in cold conditions, I started taking daily ice baths in my converted chest freezer. Once I implemented this as part of my morning routine I was and still am able to completely mitigate any pain I had feel in my whole body, not just my lower back.
The rush of adrenaline and other hormones attenuated my perceived pain and also shut down the inflammation in my body. Every single time I get out of doing cold exposure I feel pain free, with virtually no side effects (once I safely learned how to practice cold exposure to mitigate afterdrop and not risk hypothermia as part of my Wim Hof Method Certified Training).
The Power of Combining the Three Pillars of the Wim Hof Method
Sleeping was still an issue as lying still for 7-8 hours at night had me feeling stiff as as board when I woke up in the mornings. Now, after practicing the WHM after waking, ALL OF MY PAIN IS GONE.
It's truly magical, even to this day for me. No pills, no gadgets, no screws in my back. Just air, the right mindset, cold water and the willingness to experience short-term "discomfort" to promote long term happiness, health and strength.
Since I began practicing the Wim Hof Method daily I have never felt stronger, happier or healthier.
If you or someone you know is suffering from chronic pain, especially low back pain, I am confident in saying that if you commit yourself to practicing the Wim Hof Method with the 10 Week Online Course that you will reap great benefits as I have in managing chronic pain.
Everyday I continue to use the Wim Hof Method to manage and resolve my low back pain. To hear more people discuss how the Wim Hof Method helps them personally, please check out the official testimonials from Innerfire. Life changing!
If you are interested in learning how the Wim Hof Method can possibly help you mitigate or reduce chronic pain, then please don't wait. Contact me today so we can discuss how the WHM may help you best.
I am excited to share this journey with you!
All the Best, Tate