Everett Chiropractic Center Blog

October 13, 2013

Prevent Injury – Promote Health


Written a while back for Biznik, this article describes how I hurt my back and changed paths from becoming a Naturopathic Doctor to becoming a Chiropractic Doctor (at the time I didn’t know that Chiropractors could not do what they wanted do re: Scope of Practice). If you want to learn how to prevent back pain take this course on Preventing Back Injuries.

The 4Rs of re-injury, relief, rehab and recovery. Conventional wisdom holds that repeating this cycle is the “natural history” of back pain. This article points the way to an alternative.

It was a sunny Saturday morning in the Spring of 1980. A 20-something wearing only cut-offs and tennis shoes wanted to lift a rototiller off a sidewalk into the back of a pickup. The rototiller was hot from recent use so he had to be careful to avoid getting burnt as he bent over to get a handhold. With one foot on the sidewalk and one on the street, he attempted the first lift. It didn’t budge.

In a flash of total ignorance and with complete lack of awareness, he thought “I know, I will jerk it.” He jerked and in the next instant experienced severe debilitating pain in the lower back. Unable to stand up, he eventually hobbled over to the neighbor’s house and knocked on the front door. When the neighbor answered he said, “Bill, who is the chiropractor that you go to.”

Off work and mostly horizontal for the next 8 days, this was my personal introduction into the world of back pain and Chiropractic care.

I tell that story because despite regular Chiropractic care and being active as an athlete as well as following a mostly healthy lifestyle, for the next 15 years I continued to experience episodes of moderate to moderately severe back pain. X-rays taken then, and since, show that I have the anatomy of a damaged and degenerated spine.

Yet, for the past 15 years I have not had one day of back pain! I make greater demands on my spine now than ever, and it performs better than it ever has. Here I will describe what it was like then and how it is different now so that you can learn from my experience, prevent injury and promote health, yours and/or your employees.

This article will detail what “caused” that original injury and what could have been done to prevent it. If you have a back, or are responsible in any way for the backs of others (as an employer), this may be of interest. The 4 Rs of re-injury, relief, rehab and recovery will be covered in future articles. These are the phases that form the cycle, oft repeated, of that first 15 years and what experts erroneously refer to as the “natural history” of back pain. It is the natural history of back pain only if you do not understand each stage of the cycle and don’t take measures to prevent the cycle repeating. This is where an employer’s opportunities for imparting awareness through education comes in. With awareness and understanding about how to correctly bend and lift, for example, you can make small and large changes to how you do things, thus decreasing risk. In a future article I will describe what changed for me and what you, and your company, can do to prevent low back injury and avoid repeating the cycle of the 4Rs as well as all the associated costs to you, your company and to the rest of us.

So what actually caused the lower back injury with the rototiller? Let’s go down the list. First off, lack of awareness that it was even a risky situation. This is huge throughout the workplace: if you have no idea you are in a high-risk situation, you will not focus your attention and be careful to act accordingly. Whose job is it to realize that you are in a risky situation? Well, we could say that it is your bosses, but guess who feels the pain, looses the wages, and deals with the consequences, mostly?

I mention that because, at the time of that original injury, I had already been working since I was 11 years old. I also had 4 years of military experience, worked as a dockworker at a warehouse, etc. and yet no one had ever taught me how to bend over and lift something safely.

Has anyone ever taught you? Does your employer check your technique periodically, or offer classes where you can practice and get feedback? Or did you just watch a video or get told to “lift with your legs”?

Looking back at the rototiller incident it is clear that it was a two-person job, protective clothing would have made a big difference, and for sure, having one foot on the sidewalk and one on the street was absolutely disastrous. We won’t even talk about that idea of jerking. Why didn’t I know that?

You are spending time in certain positions and making certain movements repeatedly throughout the day, every day. Basic movements like getting up and down out of a chair (or in and out of the car), or bending over – with or without ever lifting anything besides your own body – can be performed in ways that are safe and produce little stress on the body.

If you are an employer why not take some small steps to ensure that your employees get the chance to learn and practice correct alignment and proper mechanics in performing the motions they do all day long. Think, “An ounce of prevention…”

You can prevent injury and promote health in your workplace. The price you pay will be a fraction of what it costs to wait, and in Everett I can offer you what Mayo Clinic researchers now recommend as a Best Practice.



  1. […] So if you have had back pain, the “natural history” is that you will have back pain again… unless you fully rehabilitate and then do something to prevent that. […]

    Pingback by #1 Predictor Of Low Back Pain | Everett Chiropractic Center Blog — October 22, 2013 @ 11:20 pm

  2. […] time loss expenditures and health care costs are strong incentives for competitive companies. Prevention is possible. You can measure and teach alignment, strength and proper movement all at once. With repetition you […]

    Pingback by $23,297 For The Average Reported Low Back Injury Claim; The Tip Of The Iceberg | Everett Chiropractic Center Blog — December 24, 2014 @ 12:34 pm

  3. […] I keep forgetting to mention that the current issue of Consumer Reports features a cover story on back pain. It is a very good review of what most of mainstream medicine recommends, and therefore what most people are doing – the lack of effectiveness, cost, and risks associated with that approach. And it covers alternative methods of addressing back pain, the proven effectiveness (which is why it is the cover story), cost savings, and safety. All of that is old news if you have been reading this Blog Post long (and if you search any of the key words in this Post you will find many posts – there are over a thousand here – on that subject). […]

    Pingback by Consumer Reports: Real Relief from Back Pain | Everett Chiropractic Center Blog — May 10, 2017 @ 11:21 am

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