Monday, June 14, 2021

The Lower Back (complete) - John Grimek (1950)

Wheeless' Textbook of Orthopaedics - Lumbar Spine Textbook:


The most universal complaint of human nature is, it seems, an aching back. Without exceptions, weightlifters, bodybuilders, strongmen and the non-exercising individual all seem to be subjected to pains in the lower back at some time during life. 
This is understandable when one analyzes the skeletal structure of the back and realizes how essential it is to developing strong supporting muscles in this area; not only in the lumbar region, but throughout the entire body.
The whole body is supported upright by the spinal column which consists of approximately 34 vertebrae of varying sizes with small padded discs in between each which function as cushions. Through the vertebrae passes the spinal cord, the current or nerve centers, which transmit messages from the brain to the muscles. 
The spine is in constant use whether you stand, sit, walk or lie down, it is always taking an active part, and no matter how you twist or turn, the healthy flexible spine moves with remarkable ease and grace. Structurally, the spine appears to be the weakest link in our whole makeup, but because of a rather wonderful and intricate pattern of muscular schemes which fuses the entire framework into one, makes this region a truly formidable structure of power and mobility! 
Two of the chief contributing causes of backache are poor body posture and muscular weakness in the supporting muscles. However, there are other causes which promote backache besides the two mentioned, but suffice to say that the aforementioned two constitute the majority. By correcting these faults, posture and weakness, one can do much to free himself from this annoying complaint.
In the rundown and weakened individual a backache frequently occurs when doing some small task or from prolonged bending because the muscles are not accustomed to such movement and become stiff, resulting in an acing back. Bad posture is responsible for most backaches. It forces the spine from its natural position and throws greater pressure on it bringing on physical fatigue and discomfort. Proper posture and its effect on health will be dealt with in a subsequent issue.
Athletes occasionally suffer from sore shoulders, pulled muscles and other minor ailments, but the one which receives the greatest number of complaints is the sacroiliac. Osteopaths and chiropractors alike thrive on patients who suffer from this common complaint. They contend that pain is caused by a vertebra or vertebrae slipping "out of place," pinching a nerve, which partially shuts off vital nerve force. This sublaxation, as they call it, hampers body functions and reduces efficiency of the motor cells which incite locomotion. 
Treatment consists of aligning the vertebrae to release never impingement. Some people swear by such treatment, while others still maintain a skeptical attitude. On the other hand [Note: if you're ever trying to figure out if an S & H mag article was penned by Grimek under another name, one of the things to look for is "on the other hand" - he used that phrase a lot in his articles! Personal preference in the use of commas and semicolons in creating breaks and whether or not the Oxford comma is used can also help with the identification, once you have an idea of how the particular author goes about choosing, words, punctuation, paragraph breaks, etc. Hey, this is a bit of fun for me! Did I neglect to mention "Piss off if you don't like it" the last little while?

On the other hand [no comma used here] medical authorities disagree, saying it is impossible for the vertebrae to "slip out of place" because of their interlocking formation, and besides, they are bound by hundreds of ligaments to keep them in place. The relief one gets after such an adjustment is due, primarily, from the measured amount of blood which is augmented by the manipulation. This is why heat and light exercise are two important factors in treating backaches; they increase the flow of blood to the area and help relieve congestion in the damaged tissues.
People with backache hate to move in any way, and feel such action only serves to increase their miseries. This is untrue except in rare and remote cases. It is vitally important to move and exercise the area to stimulate a more abundant supply of fresh blood into the tender tissues [another identifier of Grimek's writing would have to be his consistency in stressing the great value of increasing blood flow to the area being examined and written about]. Prolonged standing or sitting often aggravates any back condition, which only further proves how vital movement is. Increased circulation produced by exercise will help to carry off waste impurities much faster and relieve congestion much more effectively. 
Here again a word of caution should not be overlooked; by exercise it is not meant one should do heavy lifts or laborious exercises which work the strenuously. It means, to be more specific, to give the muscles a thorough workout but without forcing them to their limit as in building muscle. 
One should do fairly high repetitions to stimulate the muscles without any strain. Such light movements help nature to heal more rapidly than if one subjects the muscles to hard use.
Note: A good but little-used plan is to take a few minutes and slip in some light, higher-rep deadlift sets a day or three following a heavy deadlift session. Nothing charted out by percentage, and I don't have a spreadsheet to tell you what "light" in this case means. Light! REAL LIGHT deadlifts, and they work real well to get the kinks, minor tweaks and smaller owies out. It works better than any rolling yourself around on the floor or rubbing with a stick, in my view. As soon as some fools hear "deadlift" they proceed to immediately move their balls closer to the wall. This is not that.
The application of heat should be frequently employed to alleviate pain and to stimulate the nerve centers, especially before and after any exercise. 
Generally speaking, there are two types of backache where treatment is involved; the chronic and the acute type. In the latter type heat and massage usually affords immediate relief or after a few successive treatments. But the chronic backache of long standing, in most cases, refuses to yield any treatment if some irritation is present. In such extreme cases an X-ray is advised to check the condition of the spine and to determine if there are any underlying causes which set up this irritation. A growth on or near the spine may be causing the pressure and will defy all treatments until the cause is removed. Frequently an X-ray may disclose an arthritic condition which, when discovered early enough, can be successfully overcome, but before any treatment can be efficacious the cause must first be removed. 
When the pain is overwhelming, as it sometimes is, one should recline and rest by propping up the feet to to flatten out the lower back. This often brings immediate relief because the lower back is relieved of this pressure and is able to fully relax in this position. Heat of some kind should be applied at frequent intervals to keep a good supply of blood in this area. Infrared heat is more desirable because of its ability to penetrate the tender tissues to a greater depth.
Another suitable restful way to relive the back is to lie on the floor over which a blanket has been spread. Lie on the blanket and bring the knees up close to the chest by clasping the hands under the knees and pulling them up. This action straightens the small of the back and relieves pressure almost instantly. Maintain this position for a few seconds or until complete relaxation is achieved, then extend the legs for a few seconds and repeat this procedure. Do this as often as you can or when the pain in the back is especially annoying.
If your back aches only upon arising in the mornings it may indicate your bed is too soft or you have poor posture sleeping. (Man, this posture thing can be a pain in the neck.) Soft, billowy beds, though inviting they may appear, are actually not conducive to good, sound sleep, nor does it help to relieve back pains . . . they frequently promote it! It permits the spine to twist into unnatural position for long durations, making it stiff and aching. 
One of the best positions to assume while sleeping is to lie in a prone position, right hand under the abdomen, head resting on the left hand facing left, right leg outstretched with the left leg bent up towards the chest. This posture eliminates pressure on the spine and makes sleeping sounder and more comfortable. You can also reverse this position with equally restful benefits. Others may find it better to tuck both knees close to the chest while sleeping on either side instead of the position just described. What happens is the lower back is straightened out and pressure from the spine is removed.
Prevention, of course, is better than cure. While it is possible to overcome many backaches the one question is: How to prevent it? Faulty posture, already mentioned, is a contributing factor. Awkward positions tend to exert unnatural pressure on the spine nd produce fatigue and backache. The back is susceptible to drafts and chills very readily and should be protected at all times by keeping it well covered, especially during training. Never expose your back to cold drafts by sitting near an open window while the muscles are warm. Such action invariably brings stiffness and muscular aches. Wear a good fitting jersey or sweat shirt while training, particularly in cold weather. Avoid any heavy exercises until the muscles, especially the back, are thoroughly warmed up. 
The lower back and its supporting muscles should be developed and strengthened to assure better support. Back exercises are numerous which react most favorably on the erector muscles. With this article there are several illustrations stressing the conditioning and strengthening of the lower back. [I can see them but you can't, so there. Buy me a new scanner and you will magically see them too!].   
The spine is involved in very movement the body executes, as said before, but there are exercises which impose direct action. The stiff legged deadlift, apart from its developmental value, is a paramount exercise to condition the back when one carries it out as such. Too often an ambitious trainee handles more weight than he can properly negotiate in this exercise and suffers detrimental effects. 
If one seeks to demonstrate his strength he should employ the regular dead lift in which the legs take an active part in elevating the weight. In the stiff leg variety one should confide himself to handling poundages well within his limits and include more repetitions than are generally used to act as a "stimulator" and not as a strength feat. Greater flexibility of the spine can be acquired and the back kept in excellent condition if one performs this exercise as a conditioner. 20 or more repetitions should be executed if included to overcome any back condition.
The Good Morning exercise is similar in movement to the stiff legged dead lift but some prefer it to the former because of the added leverage the weight imposes when it rests across the shoulders behind the neck. This movement should be done slowly and correctly for best results. 
Swinging exercises, of which there are a large variety, are all excellent for conditioning and strengthening the lower back muscles. The weight should be swung overhead in one movement, employing the legs in the exercise, as well as the back, to assure better coordination and direct the exercise where it is needed. 12-15 repetitions are sufficient except when a single dumbbell is used, then 10 repetitions with each hand should be executed.
Another exercise that promotes development of the erector muscles is the side bend with a weight held overhead. At first you touch the toe of the left foot with the left hand (weight held overhead in right) and bending the knees to achieve this. As you progress you should touch the toe without bending the knee, and still later, keep both knees straight while touching the opposite toe. Repeat with other hand to assure symmetrical loin development. 
Other exercises such as the regular side bends, one arm side presses, and bent press all tax the lumbar section of the body and promote flexibility of the spine. All other LIFTS activate the spine rather vigorously. Anyone who has done considerable lifting will always have better loin muscles than a bodybuilder.
As a means to take kinks out of the spine, here are a few good ones. Lie on a flat hard surface keeping the upper back flat. Next, twist your hips by forcing one leg over to the other side and you feel a click in the lower back. Repeat this several times by and then reverse the position by twisting in the opposite direction. This movement is similar to what the osteopaths and chiropractors use; by holding down the upper body and turning hips to one side. 
Another spine aligner is done this way: stand upright and swing the right leg to the left side while twisting the arms and body towards the opposite side. Repeat the same with the other side to assure maximum benefits. When the above movement is done right a click will be experiencedin the lower back.
Still another one is to stand with feet a comfortable distance apart with outstretched arms (or a very light barbell on shoulders), and without moving the feet, twist the upper body first to one side and then to the other and in each instance as far as you can turn but without moving the hips and feet. It is a fine exercise for the lower back and helps to condition it. A light barbell across the shoulders gives added momentum but should not be employed until one has progressed to that stage.\
A light barbell can also be employed in this next exercise. Place barbell or empty bar across shoulders and stand erect. Now twist the body and touch the opposite foot, bending the left leg if the swing is directed to the right side and vice versa. A more advanced movement of this exercise can be performed by bending forward as in the "good morning" exercise and while in this position, twist the body to one side and then to the other. 
These exercises not only affect the lower back but other muscles as well, including the abdomen. I reiterate, for those who haven't tried these exercises before the bar alone should be used and gradually weight may be added in five pound jumps. Hastiness is not to be expected, nor is it a wise plan in such exercises.
You can direct action to the erector muscles by lying on an elevated bench with only the legs in contact, in a prone position and while strapped or held down. From this position you allow the body to bend down as low as your elevation permits and then raise up, arching sharply. Weights may be later employed, but the important feature is to tense the erector spinae muscles after each repetition.
If you have some means whereby you can suspend yourself by your ankles in an inverted position, you can relax the spine and give the padded discs between each vertebrae a chance to resume their normal size. Hanging in this position does this. In this position does this hanging. This position does this hanging in. Position does this hanging in this. Does this hanging in this position. You can achieve almost the same effects by hanging from a horizontal bar with your hands (not your ears in this instance) and relax the whole spine. You can almost feel the vertebrae aligning themselves, especially if you raise the legs and then jerk them downward for a good stretch. Oh dear, oh gosh, oh my, is it safe as milk? Wait . . . is milk still considered "safe" by those currently paid to "know" something? An Earth populated by whining pussies obsessing over the risks and dangers and of EVERYTHING. Life IS risk, fucktard. These are not my people and pissing off and dying would be greatly appreciated by those of us who choose not to live like anal retentive robots noisily bouncing from one "that's not biomechanically correct and safe" fad to the next, never quite realizing that they've come back to the same place in a decade or so. Hilarious! I love hating people I choose to refuse to agree with as a hobby and as a way of staying healthy. Oddly enough, a positive attitude makes no difference whatsoever in my health or energy levels. The glass, half full or half empty, doesn't give two shits about how you see it. Hate is not to be avoided, contrary to what your spineless mentors and do-gooders have told your weary, simplistic minds. Piss off and come back when you can think, think for yourself, child. 
Where was us? 
Mr. A. B. Stewart writes and gives us his method of adjusting his spine, and it has helped others as well. He lies on the floor relaxed, then brings up one leg close to the chest by grasping it under the knee and with a sudden out-thrust of the leg, takes the tightness out of the sacro joint. It is possible to relieve back tightness by standing with legs slightly bent and hips thrust forward, then begin by rounding the entire back and bend forward and you will feel a crack in the lower back in much the same way as you experience cracking your knuckles by pulling your fingers. 
The way to keep one's back healthy, flexible and strong is to exercise it 
at least two to three times weekly. 
Movement keeps joints and muscles in a supple, healthy condition,
but lack of use atrophies. 
(Much like the mind.) 
Now piss off and enjoy your lifting. 




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