Saturday, February 20, 2010

Injury 2.....TMS / Z Health / the plank

So my backpain.

I have also on this blog highlighted my contention that there is a big psychological aspect to all this. I read Sarno years ago and was pretty convinced by his argument. Sometimes your mind will kick off pain to divert your attention from something psychological that it really finds threatening.

I interviewed Monte here too who builds on that argument.

My personality is such that I do worry. Relaxed on the surface but often quite stressed out underneath. So all this makes sense....and I can correlate back pain with stresses in my life.

I am still working on the mental stuff to get over this but I'm getting there.

Anyway, remember Z health and mc? The mc seminar was useful in that it built on the psychological element in a different direction. It accepted that much pain / muscular tightness was due to psychologically perceived threats. Z health is about physical ways to modulate that threat, to persuade your mind through movement that the threat is not serious.

But.....despite all that my back this week was such that I went to see a friend for a massage.

This is heresy to Sarno / Monte, but I still think there is a physical element sometimes. This particular muscle was in spasm for some reason. Possibly psychological, but maybe physical.

Colin is pretty skilled - he trains with weights, has been a cmpetitive powerlifter, wrestles and is a pilates teacher as well as a good bodyworker. I'd cetainly recommend him if you are around Ediburgh.

He spent some time on me today, not initialy on massage but thinking about rehab exercises. He is tracing things to my Gluteus medius muscle and Quadratus lumborum muscle on the right not firing properly. It becomes a movement problem about how I walk and squat etc.

The basic presecription is planks and side planks, strengthening the core.

Interesting because Dan John has written alot on the benefits of planks:

Like most people, I hate Planks. It was Joshua Hillis who got me to start doing them and I discovered a funny thing. I hate planks.

Why? Well, there you are shaking from stem to stern doing nothing but holding a position. It is very hard to look calm and collected while shaking. So, let’s make it harder!

I have one simple drill to assess all kinds of issues with my athletes. It is a one minute plank done as follows:

The first twenty seconds, the right leg is raised as high as it can be raised towards the ceiling…an Arabesque right leg, if you will. Without leaving the plank position, do the next twenty seconds with the left leg Arabesque position. Finally, do twenty seconds of the plank. This is how to increase your life: that minute will feel like forever.

So, how do we assess what happened? Many of my athletes who have done far too many Bench Presses and hard baseball throws complain that the planks hurt their armpits. For these athletes, we need Bent Over Rows and Bat Wings. Lots of Bat Wings. If the athlete flops on to the ground and maniacally begins stretching the hamstrings or complains about hamstring cramping, I know that the Goblet Squat and maybe the Deadlift are needed for repairing the Posterior Chain…especially a thing called “Sleepy Butt Syndrome.” (Wake up your Glutes!) These athletes probably should be doing light Good Mornings every day as well as a daily light dose of Goblet Squats. If we just have a shaking torso and screaming in the last ten seconds, well, that’s easy: include planks as part of you workouts, usually after you do anything heavy.

The last issue with planks is simply an observation from my experience, but it is worth considering. I had some athletes complain about cramping calves on planks and I just couldn’t get my mind around it. In our discussions, it always seemed like the cramping calves were also the same athletes who were missing little things like meals, sensible diet practices, supplements, recovery aids and an understanding that nutrition may have some value for the athlete. Hence, the conclusion: my athletes who get calf cramps are missing something in their diet. Wonder of wonder, miracle of miracles, one or two smart meal choices and a multi-mineral supplement and the problem vanishes. This isn’t science, but experience has some value.
Also here

Let's see how this goes.


mc said...

sorry your still in pain chris.
still keen to learn what a movement assessment would tell you.

you may want to check your manual for the nice connections of ankle tilts and toe pulls to the muscles what seems to ail ya, and which those planks are also getting at to a degree.


Bill D said...

Even though many of the HIT crowd don't approve, I personally think Stuart McGill has some good ideas on the subject. Here are a couple:

Dave Lull said...

On possible psychological aspects of back pain see John Stossel on John Sarno (I've just started reading one of Sarno's books, and it looks interesting):

And for the use of the plank and other exercises for back pain see Stuart McGill's "Enhancing Low Back Health through stabilization exercise," which I've found helpful, though I'm no athlete, just a sedentary desk jockey:

Bill D said...

Dave Lull: good link.
I'm personally curious why McGill has gotten away from the Dead Bug series and towards the modified crunch.

Chris said...


thanks - I'll check it out

I tried to contact Chris Muir as you suggested but he hasn't answered either email or text.

Chris said...


thanks for the links.

I think we mentioned the idea of postural exercises in that interview we did?

Planks, birddog etc all need investigating.

Chris said...


thanks for the link to the pdf. Really useful stuff.


Billy Oblivion said...

Might want to take a look at Feldencris, if you haven't already. It does some very interesting things with tight or overly tight muscles.

Jim said...

Cramping in the calf while doing planks can be the result of a herniated disc in the lower back. The plank puts more pressure on the disc, the disc messes with the nerve going to the calf. I'm not a doc, but I've got a herniated disc and I've experienced the problem.

Francis said...

The best Sarno-related book I have read is Pain Free for Life by Scott Brady.

He provides a practical step-by-step programme.

Francis said...

PS. Amazon link for the Brady book -

olddude said...

When you are playing with your foot placement,ie fore,midfoot, or heel strike as you are walking and running,note the activation of your glutes depending on what strike you are using.Check out pavel's instructions for the squat in his Bodyweight book(I think thats the one)and just keep working on the form.It was a missing piece of a puzzle for me.There were several others but I wont bore you. I suffered for years but now I need reincarnation to give justice to all the lessons I,ve learned.

Chris said...

Francis - thanks. I already have the book

Chris said...

olddude, please do bore me, I'm interested. email me if you like. chris AT

Sildenafil said...

This is too interesting because I didn't have idea about those concepts but I agree that pain is correlate with stress.

viagra said...

why you don't pay a session with a chiropractic? he can take out your back pain in no time.