Video’s to fix your Back Pain!

low-back-painIt’s become a well worn cliché hasn’t it? “My back is killing me” has become such a common phrase, and it’s very true that there seems to be an absolute epidemic of low back pain everywhere you look. I know this only too well because I also have started to suffer from it over the last couple of years. Having done some research and examined my own as well as other people’s symptoms, the cause is both obvious and nowadays all too well publicised. Two reasons…….we all sit down far too much, and our posture is crap. It’s as simple as that. The good news is that we can ALL do something about it.

The Causes:

Firstly let me elaborate slightly. People tend to get three types of lower back pain. The first is caused by an injury. You slip, twist too quickly, lift something too heavy, hurt yourself in an accident or playing sport etc. For these types of back pain, generally speaking, some rest, light stretching and a bit of Physio will sort the problem out. The second cause is an actual structural problem. You have damaged discs or problems with the other bones and joints in your lumbar spine or hip region. This is not so easy to cure although carefully planned exercise and perhaps medical treatments can help.

The third cause is the one I listed above and is by far the most common. The world has changed a lot in the last 40/50 years. Our parents and grandparents led far more active and physical lives than we do. They walked everywhere instead of taking the car, they did more physical jobs and work, they had less gadgets at home to do the chores for them, there were no computers/ipads/gaming machines to keep us sat on our butt the whole time. In short we are a lot less active than we were. Both in our jobs and in our leisure time, large numbers of us now spend many many hours of each day sitting down. Not only that but because of the nature of that work, done at pc’s and laptops or hunched over ipads, phones or games controllers, our posture has become appalling.

The results are now very common. Tightness, tension and pain in your lower back. Stiffness and shooting pains down one or both legs, often in your hamstrings and even down the side of your calves. A feeling of weakness in your whole pelvic and hip area. Do any of these sound common? I bet they do. The causes of all of these problems are easy to diagnose and name. In almost all cases people will have very tight hip flexor muscles and a tight Psoas muscle. Almost certainly you will also have weak or tight Glute muscles and most probably your Hamstrings will be weaker than your quads.

I wrote a previous article here about something called Anterior Pelvic Tilt. This is a direct reaction to tight hip flexor and Psoas muscles. In my previous article the focus was mainly on how to reduce the size and look of your protruding belly by doing specific exercises for your Psoas muscle and that is indeed a positive side effect of fixing your tight hip flexors, weak Glutes and correcting your APT. However the main reason for doing all of this is to get rid of those nagging, quality of life destroying back pains that have been plaguing you all these years.

Below are a couple of videos by a guy I rely upon to supply me with great and scientific information about not only fitness but physical health. Please watch the first one which describes in detail the causes and reasons for APT and lower back pain and shows how you can remedy it.

Aside from just the APT , weak Glutes and overly tight hip flexor muscles, another cause of general back and lower back pain is weak deep core muscles. You ideally want to strengthen these without shortening your hip flexors any more than they already are. Generally speaking anything that bends your forwards (like sitting down, bending over a keypad etc), but also exercises like crunches , leg raises etc will also shorten those hip muscles when really we need to be stretching them. Therefore the 2nd video shows some Ab exercises you can do that will strengthen your core without shortening your hip flexors. Of course as well as these, just doing plain simple old planks on a daily basis will work wonders for your core and Glute muscles.

I hope you found both of these videos helpful. It’s a lot of information to take in but please believe me when i say that this 100% WILL help your back pain if you can adopt at least some of these measures on a daily basis.

To recap:

  • Try not to sit down for too long a period. Every hour get up, walk around, stretch, reach for the sky.
  • Be conscious of your posture. Wherever possible sit as upright as possible, head up, shoulders back, the same when walking. DO NOT slump forwards.
  • Stretch those hip flexor muscles, as often as you possibly can
  • Strengthen your Glute and Hamstring muscles. Make sure these are worked as much or more than other muscles in your workouts for the next few months.
  • Strengthen your core and deep core muscles, ideally by doing exercises that don’t shorten your hip flexors.

I don’t want to rely on my friend Jeff too much for his information and videos so later this week I’ll be posting my own video of a lower back and hip stretch routine that I do at least every couple of days (ideally daily) which takes only 6 or 7 minutes and which will have noticeable results within two weeks if you stick to it.

Take Care,


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Winter is the time to transform your body!!

summer-winter-bodiesWe all train and try to keep fit for a variety of different reasons: Health, weight loss, sport, to achieve a goal or simply for enjoyment. However one thing I think very few of us would deny is that we all like to look good, or as good as possible. That is especially the case as we move into summer. When the tree’s start to bloom, the sky brightens and the weather gets a bit warmer every lady I know swaps from winter wardrobe to summer wardrobe………often involving hours of deliberation and a great deal of standing in front of mirrors muttering to themselves.

It’s not just the ladies, us guys, or at least the vain ones like me, break out the t-shirts and shirts, and then stand side on to the mirror patting our guts and saying “I really must do something about this beer belly”.

Winter Training:

However what so many people fail to realise is that by then it is almost certainly too late, or is going to take an incredible amount of hard work and self discipline to really make the changes you want in time to hit the beaches in great bikini shape for July/August.

There are a few points I would make here. Firstly so many people see fitness, weight and shape control as exactly what I’ve just described……a summer sport if you like. Something not to be thought about too much when the days are cold and nights are dark. Then panic sets in as soon as spring comes. Well it’s pretty clear that that is the wrong way to approach things. Rather than crash diets and crash fitness plans it’s far better to take a much more year round, lifestyle and holistic approach. In previous articles here and here I talked about why continually going on seasonal or crash diets don’t work and how by being consistent over the long term you can achieve amazing effects AND still lead a fun and treat filled life.

Secondly, by leaving things late you will have to work much harder, physically punish yourself much more and also be much more rigid in your eating plan. If you have any significant weight or fat to lose or intend to build any real noticeable muscle, then trying to do that in 8-12 weeks is so much more difficult than doing it over a 6 month period. By going more slowly you can gradually shed the weight, still eat healthily but also still allow yourself the odd blowout. You can also work more effectively on your fitness regime as you will have more time to build in both cardio and metabolic training to help you shed the pounds or kilo’s, as well as time for muscle building and toning to give your body the shape you want.

winter-weight-trainingFinally, most people have more time in the winter. There are less BBQ’s to attend, holidays to go on, sunny evenings with friends and a bit less temptation to drive you off course. Even as a committed fitness fan I freely admit that when it is a sunny Sunday afternoon in the garden all I really want to do is crack open a couple of beers or get stuck into a nice chilled bottle of white wine, often washed down with some fattening snacks. In winter there is less cause to dress in your finery and go socialising and more chance to dig out the old tracksuits, set yourself some targets and warm yourself up by working hard. Then by Summer you can emerge like a Phoenix from the flames with a brand new set of feathers and looking magnificent (well that’s the plan at least).

So how should you go about this. Firstly you should spend five minutes giving some thought to and ideally writing down your goals. It could be as simple as “I want to fit in those skinny jeans that used to fit me”, or “I want to lose 20 lbs in weight”, or it could be something much more specific like I want to be able to run 5 miles and have built my shoulder, chest and arm muscles up significantly.

Then you simply break that down into workable and mouthful sized pieces. So if you want to lose 20lb in weight, that’s roughly 3.5 lb a month or just under 1lb a week. Believe me with some dietary changes and an increase in your exercise that is achievable for anyone over 6 months but would be far more difficult if not impossible in 8 weeks. Similarly if you hit the weights fairly hard in a structured programme, throw in some cardio and also make some changes in what you eat, then you can really transform your build and musculature over 6 months, much more so than you can do in 8-12 weeks.

The final and fun benefit of training hard in the winter is that it is hidden. Just think how you’ll feel Ladies on that first sunny weekend (about the end of June if you live in England) when you finally shed the heavy jumpers and wear a sleeveless blouse for the first time and all your friends gasp at how you have traded in your batwings for svelte and toned arms…….it can be done. So what you really need to do, as with almost everything I advise is change your mind set. It’s September now, the dark days are coming (if you’re in the northern hemisphere at least). Plan ahead. Picture how you want to look and feel by May/June next year and put your plan into practice now. Summer bodies are built in Winter so this Winter make it count!!


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Don’t Believe the Hype! Food Fascists.

Food FadsSo I’m going to be completely contradictory here. How? Well I’m a blogger in the Health, Fitness and Food sector and I’m just about to tell you not to take food bloggers seriously. What…..why? Well mainly because I believe in you, you as an individual, you as a person with their own mind who can make their own decisions on what is best for you.

Food Fads:

Blogging has become a huge industry in it’s own right in the last 10 years. It has created and made superstars of some bloggers, many of whom have gone on to write books, appear on TV and become media stars. A large proportion of those have been in the health, food and fitness sector. Am i just a teensy weensy bit jealous……of course I bloody am. However that doesn’t stop me from seeing through all the shiny success and great ratings to recognise some of the truth.

Many of these people are promoting and pushing pretty strident messages about what you should and shouldn’t do. You MUST eat this way or that way, you must NOT eat this, DON’T touch that, THIS will make you slim and healthy, THAT will make you fat and kill you. Many of the messages that are put out there are food fascism. I don’t have an axe to grind on any particular way of eating. I don’t really care if you are a vegan, a raw food nut, a high/low protein geek or a no carbs junkie. My personal belief is that ALL of these systems have the potential to be harmful or good for you depending on how you approach them.

I watched a documentary on TV last week (see below) and it brought home to me a) how huge this industry has become, b) how the message can become corrupted by the amount of money involved and c) how much harm it can potentially do because there are a large number of sensitive, needy and sometimes vulnerable people out there.

Now don’t get me wrong, having watched this programme I am pretty sure it had it’s own axe to grind and was trying to set an agenda of it’s own. It was occasionally quite cruel and overly personal about some of the topics and people involved. However it did get me thinking and actually made me consider what I was doing and how i go about things. Are there that many people out that really do slavishly follow what so many of these online guru’s are producing, and just how well researched and factual is it after all?

As I said even though it’s not my particular choice if you happen to be vegetarian or vegan, a raw food only fan or any other subset of mainstream eating then that is entirely your choice.

However what I would advocate is DO YOUR OWN RESEARCH….and by that I don’t just mean watch a few Youtube channels and jump in with both feet. I mean do some proper research. Consult recognised and properly qualified nutritionists, speak to a variety of health and/or fitness professionals, read about the real life pro’s and cons of adopting any eating system for a long period of time.

If you have read my blogs for a while you know what I advocate…’s very simple and pretty easy to follow. I advocate eating a healthy, varied diet for about 80% of the time, doing some vigorous form of exercise or training as often as possible, and then eat/drink whatever the hell you like (within reason) the other 20% of the time. I called this blog and my sites Ordinary Guy Fitness for the most basic of reasons, because I am an Ordinary guy and so are 90% of you, and being fit and healthy for many people is challenging enough without making it overly complicated.

So just in case you haven’t read my blogs previously what exactly am I suggesting you eat? Again it’s really simple. Lots of natural produce with fairly high protein levels, high NATURAL fat levels and slightly lower carb levels….but nothing excessive. That means good quality meats, poultry and fish, or beans, pulses and nuts for your protein. Again good meats and oily fish or nuts, eggs, avocado, real butter, good cheese etc for your sources of good fat. Still have carbs but as much as possible get them from vegetables, sweet potato, brown rice and eat a bit less bread, pasta, white rice etc.

Try to reduce your portion levels just slightly and as much as possible (5 days a week) steer clear of sweets, snacks, refined sugars, fizzy or sweetened drinks and booze. The other two days a week….go out, enjoy yourselves, eat the food you enjoy or the treat you craved. That doesn’t mean stuff yourself or overeat for the sake of it, but DO enjoy. By doing that you will stay on the right path and ensure you can follow a healthy plan for the long term without feeling you are denying yourself.

Whatever you do, be confident in yourself and your OWN ability to make the right choices. Try not to follow the latest fad, become devoted to the latest online food sensation or healthy eating guru, and don’t convince yourself that you or anyone’s else’s version of “clean eating” is the only way forward. It’s a big wide world out there with many things to experience, enjoy and savour. We all have our own ways of doing things so celebrate your own individuality and work out what is right for you.

Healthy Eating posterI hope you enjoyed this article and I apologise for my lengthy absence. Please continue reading and there will be many more articles to come.

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