Top positive review
6 people found this helpful
This book gave a patient like me my life back!
on 24 April 2014
If you are a patient with chronic back pain - please read on........
This book changed my life but it is not be suitable for all. It is targeted primarily for healthcare professionals treating or researching into spinal injury. As a consequence, it's a very meaty, technical book, presenting and discussing a lot of data from many scientific studies. The author is a prof of biomechanics (so there is a lot about Newton force, vectors and torque) but I didn't find it too hard and you can easily skip the numbers and not miss out hugely from a patient's perspective: the written style is very accessible and not at all "academic" or high brow. The book gives professionals the understanding to treat patients: it is not a book that will give patients an exercise programme per se. It therefore makes complete sense for the author to stress that if you are a patient, it is important to apply anything from this book in conjunction with relevant health care professionals.
Having said that, I am a patient, and not only did this book give me insight into my condition that I can apply to my daily life, but it also gave me a framework to rehabilitate my back after years of suffering whilst coming up against a dead end through the health services. Furthermore after 9 months, it continues to serve as a great reference work for me: there is barely a week goes by that I do not delve into this book for 5 minutes or less and remind myself of some tip that I can directly integrate into my daily activities and exercises.
If you are a sufferer, and are willing to take control of your back pain and understand it in a lot more detail, I would definitely consider buying this book and investing the time to read it. For the price of this book, it could be more than worth it!
I have had chronic lower back pain for years. Specialists suspected it was due to disc degeneration and had all but given up with any chance of improving my condition. Indeed, I spent years going from one physio or consultant to another, each optimistically offering if not a cure, only to be palmed off several months later no further forward. I was doing pilates and was apparently quite good - but still I had a lot of pain and no real improvement. Surgery was an option offered but not taken up - since there was no confidence is cause or benefit.
My life prior to this book
I was despondent. Sometimes, waking up in the morning, the only thing I had to look forward to is whether I would have any pain free time on that day (most pain killers just sent me to sleep). My quality of life was massively impacted. I could not participate in any of my hobbies (gardening, sport, jogging, cycling, playing guitar, travelling and even going to restaurants I didn't know the seating of). My personal life was affected: suffering from chronic pain doesn't make for good company or a healthy relationship. Daily life such as housework and shopping were big projects that I needed to restrict. And then trying to keep a job was a nightmare - working at a computer.
How did I find this book?
When I was feeling well enough, I took a weeks off work to research back pain online (with regular pauses after working on the PC). There is a lot of help out there, but also a lot of rubbish to. I came across this author as someone who seemed to be substantiating why certain exercises or movements were beneficial and why some were harmful. It was evidence based and some of what I initially read struck a chord with things I had discovered empirically (although few health care professionals seemed to understand or believe me eg not exercising for a few hours after getting up, extending my back backwards in an arc). In short, this author gave me hope. I later found out the book is available from his website ([...]) and received another item from him promptly.
My recovery using this book
I was a bit daunted by the technical nature of the book but I persisted and quickly found a lot of great tips and a very simple basic exercise plan. Using this - and building up gradually over 6 m - I was able to start contemplating a new live (my old life). My improvement is already better than I would have settled for prior to using the book. Walking without pain is beautiful. Not thinking about my back has made me human again. I may probably not do some things ever again (eg jog or do heavy lifting) but I have a good life back. Stu McGill deserves an award.
The book is divided into three main sections:
1. Background to the spine and spinal injury - 120 pages
2. Preventing injury - 40 pages
3. Rehabilitation - 80 pages
The first section covers spine anatomy and what's going on in spinal injury, his research methodology, and popular myths on back pain. I found this bit useful reference but pretty hard going as a layman. Whilst this is a technical book, he is however a very good communicator so for example, his explanation of the spine being an upright fishing rod that is strong only when supported by guy-ropes is very powerful.
The second section on preventing injury is full of useful tips for a lay person. His central thesis is that the first step to recovery is to ensure no further injury. The chapters include photos of everyday life activities with correct or harmful postures.
Finally the last section is really designed to give professionals the tools to assess patient's injuries and design a programme of rehabilitation. It does not give a programme of exercises however does suggest some very basic exercises (in varying degrees of severity) that got me back on the path to normality. My problem was that I couldn't even do exercises I had been given without immense pain and getting worse. Very gently versions of the exercises are given which once I had seen were making a difference, I took to my physio who refined them further. The section also talks about the importance of warming up the spine and "grooving" good muscle movement patterns - all very useful and things not really touched on in anything else I have been told or read.
I can't praise this book enough. In conjunction with Sarah Keys Back Bible, I got the tools to have a life back (I use exercises prescribed by Sarah Keys as warm downs and id use them as occasional therapeutic interventions during the months when I was bad).