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They're At It Again: Climbers & Back Spasms

Discussion in 'General Discussion Subforum' started by BruceMC, Nov 18, 2013.

  1. BruceMC

    BruceMC Beloved Grand Eagle

    Just noticed this string on the SuperTopo Climbing Forum this a.m.:


    Back spasms followed by reams of advice based on medical mythology. Odd, that not one correspondent mentions a word about any psychological causes for back spasms. Lots of negative admonitions (read nocebos) though. Bet before this string is finished, you'll be able to see in print every old wives' tale in the book about back problems. The structural-mechanical view of back pain is so entrenched in the general population that if you mention that the real problem might be psychological stress that everyone on this string will turn on you and repeat that old evasive rebuttal that "it's not in my head because I saw the MRI." There's no way you'll be able to convince anyone that those structural abnormalities are incidental to the pain. One thing you will notice though is that all these people are super over-achievers who have to constantly work out, boulder and climb to maintain their self-image (for whatever unconscious reasons).

    Wonder how many back pain wonder cures have been effected by the secret magic of the Thera Cane massager:


    Thought I'd heard of every back pain "cure" until I read about this one! Just think, someone somewhere has a whole warehouse full of Thera Canes that they're probably hawking on the Internet and late night TV commercial spots. Just goes to show what straws of utter nonsense a person in pain will grasp at in desperation.
  2. Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021)

    Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021) Beloved Grand Eagle

    Right on, Bruce.
    I agree that it's near-impossible for some people to stop believing in MRIs and X-rays and Catscans when their symptoms don't go away from painkillers and surgery. If we spend the time reflecting and journaling, it becomes very clear that they are TMS caused by anger, anxiety, fear, stress, etc, all psychological.

    I've never been a gymaholic, preferred tennis, golf, slow biking riding and walking. I remember humorist James Thurber saying
    "When I feel like exercising, I lie down until the feeling goes away."
  3. BruceMC

    BruceMC Beloved Grand Eagle

    Walt, I think that ever since that 50-mile walk craze during the Kennedy years there has emerged a whole generation of super-stressed out over-achievers who are constantly pushing their bodies (and minds) to the limit. Sort of like the SS: special chosen generation with a mission to accomplish. Interesting to note how one correspondent says his back pain always developed while "traveling". In other words, during a period of transition when unconscious anxiety about the future tends to well up. No relation to exercise whatsoever, but it's obvious he still thinks it's something physical even though he can't put his finger on it. Boulder, Colorado is just filled with tri-athletes and outdoors sports enthusiasts. Don't think it's any accident that the sports medicine, PT, chiro, orthopedic surgeon "industry" thrives there as well. I swear everyone you meet in Boulder has just had a new "operation" on their hip, shoulder, back or foot that is also part of a long string of sport therapy procedures dating back to middle adolescence. In Boulder, if you don't climb or boulder at an high standard, don't do extreme skiing or mountain or road biking, you're instantly a "nobody" and "all washed up". No friends, no social life. An outcast. An exile. In a town like that, the pressure to perform and be young and strong forever is absolutely crushing. I bet that's the real reason behind 90% of these so-called "back problems".
    North Star likes this.
  4. Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021)

    Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021) Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi, Bruce. I have a good friend in Boulder but he's a couch potato. Good thing he has a loving wife and a dog.

    I never was good at sports in school. In high school gym class when someone threw me the basketball or football
    I never knew which way to run with it. I

    I used to love to play tennis and golf, but no team sport, thank you. And I've never been a runner.

    So I guess Boulder would not work for me. I wonder if the sports medicine doctors/therapists also have back, leg,
    foot problems. Who do they go to see?
  5. BruceMC

    BruceMC Beloved Grand Eagle

    Sounds like a generational divide. I remember that if you were a "nerd" and poor at athletics (but got good grades) in my working class high school, the coaches would put you up to ridicule in P.E. classes and that was a green light for all the bullies (who were athletic and got bad grades) to pick on you and beat you up after school. I can still remember short, little FW with the horn rim glasses and brief case being made to lie face down on the school bus and kicked in the sides by the bullies on the ride back and forth across the overpass to school. Reign of Terror! You could really tell that the coaches who had invariably been NCOs in the Army were preparing the next generation for combat, a little social Darwinism to weed out the poor specimens and build up aggressive instincts. They didn't call us War Babies for nothing. However, the college prep kids in the richer high school districts didn't behave that way. Social class and money do make a difference.
    North Star likes this.
  6. BruceMC

    BruceMC Beloved Grand Eagle

    Funny, one correspondent on this SuperTopo string seems to have actually got it right:

    "Yep, look at this article:
    despite undergoing an emergency C5 C6 anterior cervical diskectomy....the patient remained quadriplegic

    I stay away not only from chiros, but from "sports medicine doktors"
    as well...even PTs. Before I became serious about sport (my main sport is not climbing and carries more risk of sprains/strains), I used to go
    to those. Somehow, they never knew what exactly was wrong...RICE
    was of course their solution (thanks, I can find it on Google myself).
    The array of hideous, incorrect stuff I heard from them eventually
    convinced me they're pretty worthless, unless ones injury is so bad
    they need surgery to reattach things. Conditioning, prevention of
    muscle imbalances, rehab/prehab exercises etc take care of your body without those above...Pre-hab drills should be a part of daily life of any athlete. PTs are good in terms of recommending the drills, but a lot of them know less than you can find googling medical research by yourself.

    Or, look at this one, a woman paralyzed after coming in to fix the
    "tense shoulder" (I guess they forgot to prescribe stretching and rubber
    band exercises for her):

    I think a lot of positive results from these 'therapies' come from mild
    form of hypnosis/mind conditioning, which is a very powerful healing force, but not from any kind of mechanical action on body"

    Yup, "a mild form of hypnosis/mind conditioning" associated with practitioners in white coats does sum it up fairly succinctly, or as Dr. Sarno himself would no doubt say, a "placebo" cure.

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