My ‘Painful’ Story
MyBackStretches.com & My Mission
Hey there, thanks for swinging by to my site.
I’m Matt Thorpe, a sufferer of chronic back pain (for over 10 years) and creator of MyBackStretches.com – your guide to getting ‘back’ in the game!
I created this site to help fellow sufferers (like you and me) to ‘win the battle‘ against the nagging pain of Sciatica, Lumbago, Disc Degeneration and Muscle Tightness. By following my simple program of back stretches you can learn to heal yourself; just the way I did.
I want to share my experience with you, give you hope and let you know that help is available. I want to let you know that your pain could be significantly reduced by spending just 20 minutes per day stretching.
Believe me it works, I’ve been there and I can prove it.
All the stretches on this site have enabled me to recover from major back surgery and have helped to reduce my Sciatica pain by approximately 70%.
I’m not saying it’s gone completely because I am still recovering. However I can say that I now lead a normal life, I can play sport and I can sneeze or cough without yelping in agony! 🙂
Keep scrolling to read my story.
My story: I did all the wrong things.
I have been a chronic back pain sufferer for over 10 years. My problem was relentless Sciatica on the left side.
I’m only 38 and I feel like I’ve had years taken away from me. It has also ended my football career early, the sport I loved. In my 20’s I was very fit, healthy and athletic, I used to run about all day long. I had a ‘good engine’ as they say, I even ran 2 London Marathons; that was until I hit 28.
When I hit 28 I developed a pain deep in my iliac crest and hip (the bit just above my backside). I was working long hours and I needed to drive nearly 2 hours to and from work every day. The pain started getting worse for no particular reason. I wasn’t doing anything strenuous and I hadn’t had any falls or accidents, I was just sitting …… relentlessly.
Due to my heavy work load my exercise regime also began to suffer. When my exercise became less frequent I found that my back suffered and it became even more painful, I became truly miserable.
The part where I spent a ton of cash…
Being a sportsman, I figured that something was just out of alignment and it could be quickly fixed, I mean, how out-of-shape could a sporty 28 year old be?
Over a 2 year period, I visited a number of physios, osteopaths and chiropractors to help diagnose the problem. They all gave me different opinions.
This process ended up costing me over $7,000 (nearly £5,000 GBP) and my pain hadn’t subsided. It was still chronic, irritating and I was getting frustrated. I was always quite a bouncy, bright character but it was starting to take it’s toll and make me depressed.
The part where I made the worst decision ever...
After seeing many so-called ‘back specialists’ I became disillusioned, I needed to get something done so I went to my GP. My GP referred me to an experienced ‘Back Surgeon’ who proceeded to take x-rays and MRI scans to identify the problem.
When the scans all came back I was told that I had degenerative discs in my spine and that I needed surgery before they got worse. I was told that a nerve was obviously being pinched by two lumbar vertebrae (L4 and L5 at the bottom) and that the surgery was eventually required.
By this point, I was so depressed and some nights, drinking myself to sleep with a bottle of wine. My frustration was starting to overcome my logical thinking. I knew that I needed to get this problem fixed so I could get my life back.
Over a period of 18 months I opted for 3 sets of cortisone ‘nerve block’ injections in my facet joints where the problem seem to be. This was aimed at blocking the pain receptors in the lumbar nerves, reducing inflammation and to prevent the nerve being pinched.
It didn’t work, I was told that I had only one other option.
My Back Surgery
Doctors, don’t you just love em?
I’m not going to sit here and slag off doctors because, on the most part, they do a great job. The problem I have with doctors is they are under so much pressure to get you out of the door that they look for quick ways to fix you. They either prescribe you pain killers in the hope that your will go away or just go ahead and operate hoping that will be the answer.
I was told I needed an L4-L5 spinal fusion. This is the lower part of the back that supports your whole upper body (which is very heavy). This sounded a pretty major procedure …… and it was. I totally underestimated how major.
I underwent the surgery to remove the disc between the two vertebrae. This was replaced with a spacer cage and the two vertebrae were then fused together with the aid of a metal frame (which still sits in my back today). Bone shavings were then put inside the cage to promote the natural bone fusing process.
The aftermath was the most miserable time of my life, immediately after surgery I was in sheer agony. I couldn’t even breath without yelping and I had severe bruising on my spinal cord which didn’t subside for nearly 4 weeks.
My Dad came to pick me up from the hospital 2 days later and I was in tears all the way home due to the bumps in the road, it was excruciating; I knew it would be a long road to recovery.
The Worst Part!
A few weeks into my recovery I noticed that my sciatica was not fixed, in fact it was no better.
I had been advised wrongly by my surgeon, I had undergone major surgery and was left with the same nerve pain and a back that was now in tatters. I couldn’t walk properly, I couldn’t run, I struggled walking down stairs, I struggled driving, standing and sitting.
To make matters worse, I was off work and not being paid because I was self-employed.
Although I had been given some exercises by the physiotherapist, they were only focused on trying to help me recover from the surgery and not from the original sciatic pain.
I was not in a good place, I was a complete mess.
Light at the end of the tunnel…
I won’t lie to you, the recovery process was hard, very hard. I went from somebody who was very active, sporty and a total gym addict to someone who was unrecognisable.
Post surgery, I had 18 months of feeling like absolute shit, a waste of space and feeling sorry for myself. I felt beaten, I could now walk ok but I couldn’t run because I still had pain in my back from the surgery and the constant sciatica in my left leg was still awful. I also had extremely tight back which caused regular muscle spasms.
At this point, I realised that I needed to help myself and more surgery was not the answer. If I was going to live with my Sciatica, then I needed to try to do something about it to make it more bearable.
Through a friend of mine, I was put in touch in touch with a guy who was not a physio, but a Biomechanics specialist. He explained to me that back issues are not necessarily caused by a problem in the back itself but often by surrounding muscle groups that all link into the upper back, lower back and hips.
He took me through a number of tests to analyse how my body was aligned and the level of my flexibility.
What he found was astonishing!
He identified that I had extremely tight muscles in my thighs (Quadriceps) and hips (Hip Flexors). In fact, they were so tight that they were pulling me forward thus causing my hips to tilt at an odd angle. This then caused tightening of the muscles in my hips and back, this condition is called Posterior Pelvic Tilt.
As it turns out, the problem had gradually got worse over a period of time and I hadn’t taken any action to fix it. It was caused by a combination of being seated with poor posture for long hours at work, too much driving and the wrong approach to exercise.
What had also made it worse was my dedication to getting fitter and stronger. I had been exercising a great deal on my legs and upper body but had not been stretching afterwards. This meant tension, strains and torn muscles had started to take their toll and muscles had shortened. I was getting stronger but I was causing more trouble for myself because I wasn’t stretching!
Getting ‘back’ in the game (Ooops, excuse the pun)
My Biomechanics man educated me about my problem. He explained the causes of the pain and he explained how to rectify the problem. My bad habits and failure to look after myself had caused imbalances in my body.
Stretching is a vital part of everyday life and we take it for granted. We regularly move around, driving, sitting, walking, running, playing sport and we go to the gym but very rarely do we bother stretching afterwards. Then, after a short amount of time, our back starts to ache every morning and the pain never goes away. We put up with it until we decide to go to the GP. This results in painkillers and then some sort of needless surgery.
My Back Stretches Program
With the help of my Biomechanics friend, I created a Back Stretches program to help re-align my pelvic tilt and rectify the Sciatica condition that was causing my back pain.
I managed to reduce the tightness in my legs and all across my upper and lower back. I improved my own stability, mobility and overall strength.
Most importantly, I now have my life back, I can run, I can go to the gym and have even managed to complete a Spartan Obstacle Race! 🙂
Ready to get some help?
I want you to learn how to treat your back in the right way and we need to do this in careful stages. You can click on the menus above to choose your desired program. Each exercise has a video that I created.
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Finally, we are in this together. Let’s share our experiences and help each other to beat this pain. Join my Facebook group to share your experiences with others.