Published May 02, 2012
Having a bad back can be as simple as a daily nuisance or as severe as a debilitating condition. While it’s important to have a strong back, not everyone suffering from back pain needs to take drastic measures to fix the problem.
In his book The 7 Minute Back Pain Solution, Dr. Gerard Girasole, a board-certified orthopaedic spin surgeon in New York City, explains the common causes of back pain and details different exercises a person can do to strengthen the muscles in their core.
What made you want to write this book?
I’m a spinal surgeon, but there’s never been a concise go-to article about how to strengthen your back. In therapy places they had different exercises, but nothing was very to the point.
Cara, my co-author, was a patient of mine, and I thought she needed surgery. But one day I saw her in the gym, and she looked great. She told me she had designed these exercises to help her back, so we decided to both write a book about it together.
How prevalent is back pain in America?
In the work place, 93 million work days are lost every year due to back pain, resulting in $5 billion in health care costs. Plus eight out of 10 people will have back pain at some point in their lives. Not all will end up having surgery, but back pain is one of the leading causes of people losing time at work.
Back pain is the also one of the leading causes of relationship problems, medication abuse and more. If people don’t treat it, it can become a chronic problem that can significantly affect the quality of their life.
What are some suggestions in your book?
Since I’m an orthopedic spine surgeon, I’m the one that gives you concise instructions on stretching the key muscles that attribute to low back pain. The book encompasses every walk of life: How to run with back pain, play golf, have sex - everything. My job as a surgeon was to explain why you have back pain and the myths surrounding it, like that you’re doomed and need surgery. Fifty percent of the battle of back pain is understanding it.
The rest of the book contains easy routines to follow written by Cara. These are exercises you can do in your home, workspace, in the car and anywhere else. It’s designed for anybody: if you have chronic back pain, post-op back pain or people who just want to strengthen their backs in general.
What are the key muscles people should focus on?
The key to understanding your lower back is to focus on the core muscles. The core muscles encompass the abdominal muscles, pelvic muscles, hip muscles and lower back muscles. All of these muscles work together to provide all of your daily motion. So proper body movement require a strong core. The biggest misnomer is that when you work your abdomen, you work your core, but you’re really just working a third of your core. When the core is weak, meaning one of the other muscles is not working properly, it can result in pain or injury.
We coined a phrase in the book called ‘back mindfulness’ and how crucial your back is for every move you take. People have to understand that from the moment you wake up in the morning to when you go to bed at night, you’re using your back.
Any other tips?
In the seven minute stretches we outline, you’re stretching each one of these muscles for a minute per stretch. Everybody has the time to do this. We make them very simple and easy to do anywhere.
The cost of lower back pain is expensive and can greatly impact your life. You don’t need any kind of gimmicks or additive equipment, you can just use this book as a guide. It’s a great guide for your specific problems – shoveling snow, travel, how you pack your bag, etc. It’s simple to read and simple to understand.