How I BEAT Irreversible Back Pain

How I BEAT Irreversible Back Pain

**this blog was originally published on October 18, 2012 – There are more recent updates about back pain on my blog.

I was fighting against “irreversible” back pain…

When the thought of a workout went from motivating and exciting to making me think of “pain”, I knew I had a problem. It began taking me longer and longer to motivate myself to workout because I knew a hard workout meant horrible back pain. The pain was intense and in my normal black and white fashion, I was determined to “fix it”! I was determined to beat my irreversible back pain.

Everything hurt my back; sitting, standing, sleeping, and working out made the pain unbearable at times. My normal no excuse mentality was ringing louder than ever. Something is broken and I need to fix it…quickly!

Doctors, medical bills , surgery options and prescriptions…

beat irreversible back pain with natalie jillI sought out orthopedic surgeons and had an MRI, which confirmed a reason for my back pain. I had severe arthritis in my lower back and two bulging discs. I guess all those years of constantly wearing high heels and skipping my workout warmups were starting to catch up to me 🙂

I began a series of doctors’ appointments and all of them prescribed arthritis meds, pain meds, coritsone shots, etc.  No one believed I could fix the cause of the pain, so instead, they all wanted to “mask” it.

I saw 4 physical therapists, 3 orthopedic surgeons and 2 chiropractors. All resulting in false hopes, a lot of money spent on medical bills, and hearing the same information: the arthritis is permanent. Basically they said I had irreversible back pain.

The choices I was given were: STOP working out, take anti inflammatory medication, cut the nerve, and use medication when needed to manage pain.

NJFit TWEETit: I was told my back pain was irreversible. It wasn’t, and I fixed it the NATURAL way. #feelinggood @NatalieJillFit

The back pain just wouldn’t stop…

The options presented were not sitting right with me, but when pain takes over, you don’t always think rationally. The pain never stopped. It was constant and it was bad. I gave in to a cortisone shot that was done under anesthesia and inserted during an x-ray. This was supposed to take away the pain. It did for about a day, and then came back stronger then ever. The pain management doctor had an answer though: more pain medication and a more aggressive surgery.  No thank you!

I remember thinking to myself, I’m 40, maybe this is just the way it is?

I never accepted that things had to be this way, but wow, when pain takes over you start to reconsider your options. I was determined to figure out what was going on and find a natural way to stop the pain. So, my mission began and now I will share with you what I learned.

You can’t get “rid of” arthritis” but you can stop what is causing the pain.

beat irreversible back pain with natalie jillIt is not actually the arthritis or disc causing the pain, it’s other imbalances around it causing you to FEEL pain where the issue is.  You have to fix other areas of your body to get around the muscle imbalances, which is what typically causes the pain. For me, for instance, my current workouts, the way I was sitting, standing, etc… were aggravating muscle imbalances and creating terrible pain in my back.

My workouts were no longer working for me.

I was in a comfort zone of doing the same workouts I had always done. I was in denial that they were now wrong for me. I had to accept this fact and take on the challenge to re-learn the exercises and corrective circuits.

I am diligent about doing these now and there are some exercises, like weighted leg presses, that I can never do again or my back pain will instantly flair up.

I had abs but my CORE was not functional

beat irreversible back pain with natalie jill

I had abs so I THOUGHT I had a strong core… right? WRONG!

When I tried to do simple stability moves I had absolutely no core strength. It’s amazing how quickly this can change with practice.

I moved primarily to exercises utilizing my own body weight and REALLY worked to develop my core. No sit-ups (those only work the abdominal muscles), but TRUE core strength. I’m not suggesting you start at that point, but something to work towards.

You have to walk before you can run to TRULY rebuild your core.  It might seem like you are going backwards at first, but if you stick with it, you WILL see amazing results!

Eat a clean anti-inflamatory diet

As a celiac and licensed sports nutritionist, I always ate healthy, and of course gluten-free (a must for a celiac). So I decided to take things up a notch and get diligent about adding key anti-inflammatory foods to my diet including the removal of grains and dairy.

I started doing corrective circuits

Doing the right corrective circuits will help to activate muscles you haven’t been using and help you calm down and release the muscles that are tight and over active. I worked very closely with two NASM certified Corrective Exercise Specialist to re-train myself.

As an example, my glutes were under active, which is common in women. My quads and lower back were picking up the slack for my glutes which were under-active and not firing.  Now, I do a full corrective circuit to activate my glutes prior to my workouts so that my glutes pull their weight and take additional strain off my quads and lower back.

I realized I could still have “INTENSITY” while working out, but I had to CHANGE those “intense” moves

My old workouts put too much stress on my lower back. I don’t do things like weighted leg presses anymore, which used to be a staple in my workout. Instead, I do exercises that keep my core engaged, using all of my muscle fibers (a huge fan of ring and strap training now) and I don’t do stable moves anymore. No more machines for me, as I find they are too isolating and can lead to the creation of muscle imbalances.

How I feel today after I beat my irreversible back pain…beat irreversible back pain with natalie jill

Today, my back is no longer in constant pain. It is not 100% gone, but my days of pain are are now extremely limited to a few hours of pain a few days a month. It is no longer the constant nagging pain I used to deal with EVERY single day.

My workouts are back to being intense and I am once again changing and improving my body without the added fear and result of pain. With everything I have learned, I have developed my DVD’s  as well as the more intense STRONGER which mimics the corrective circuits, workouts, and nutrition I currently do! These will BOTH teach you the exercises I did to stop my symptoms.

“Be Happy…Be Healthy…Be Fit!”

– Natalie Jill

Want to stop YOUR back pain? Get more information on the DVD’s, STRONGER, and other helpful programs HERE.

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Natalie Jill
[email protected]

Natalie Jill helps people across the globe reach their health, fitness, life, and business goals. Natalie is a well-known Licensed Master Sports Nutritionist and Functional Fitness Trainer who specializes in weight loss and core training. . Natalie is also the bestselling author of Unprocess Your Diet . Natalie has been gluten free for over 15 years as she has Celiac Sprue. Learn how Natalie handled adversity and find out how she "made her own luck" and turned it all around! . To know more about Natalie Jill, you can visit her Facebook Profile.

19 Comments
  • Kari
    Posted at 14:54h, 28 January

    Natalie, Thank you so much for sharing – very inspiring! I was a competitve athlete from age 8 through college, and suffered repetitive injuries that haunt me as an adult. It’s been very discouraging trying to “train around” them and be told there’s nothing I can do to stop the disc degeneration and arthritis in my neck and low back. I tend to cave to pain, and therapists who say to stop training, but it always leads to backsliding and weight gain all over. Clean eating is the other challenge for me… I think because I don’t have any food “issues” I can still eat what I want. Your post reminds me that none of us are immune to inflammation, and other triggers in our diet, especially women with our fluctuating hormones. I really admire your strong mindset and devotion to solving problems. You definitely push harder than most… and might pay for a bit as athletes do, but triumph through perseverance. Thank you for the inspiration to keep at it, and not let pain discourage. You are so right about excuses or solutions!! A fan in Chicago

  • back pain
    Posted at 20:51h, 08 February

    Your spine has discs in between each vertebra. When you sleep at night, your discs increase size and become more susceptible to bulging/herniating. Therefore, you must avoid bending improperly for at least one hour after you awake to allow the discs to shrink in size. People frequently bend down to put on their socks and pants when they awake. Instead, bring your feet up to you to complete this task. Otherwise, make sure you bend properly so that you don’t injure your spine during that one hour period.

  • Tina Proctor
    Posted at 04:25h, 25 November

    I have 2 slip disc in my back. It’s getting hard everyday 2 do anything. It hurt when I walk, sit, stand and when I lay down

    • Natalie Jill
      Posted at 12:40h, 08 December

      Hi Tina, I would go see a doctor to find out exactly what is wrong. At the same time, I would look for a good physical therapist or chiropractor to help you with exercises that you can do to strengthen your core and alleviate the pain in the area. Just keeping your stomach tight while sitting and standing will help a lot. Keeping your gluten tight while standing will also help. I hope this helps and that you get better! 🙂

      • Carissa
        Posted at 22:46h, 06 February

        Natalie Jill I’d be so grateful if you have can tell me if there’s anything that you recommend I do to strengthen my glutes but not trigger my pain? MRI shows I have hamstring tendonitis & partial torn labrum in hip. My pain is mainly in hamstring area traveling up into glute area so anytime I contract muscles in that area I immediately feel increased pain. Thank you for all your info!

      • Natalie Jill
        Posted at 15:36h, 09 February

        Hi Carissa. Sounds like you have a lot going on. I’m not a doctor and not much I can tell you over the internet that will help, except work with a qualified medical professional. Wish I could be of more help. But just listen to your body and seek qualified medical help.

  • Megan
    Posted at 17:18h, 07 February

    I am so glad my friend sent me to your article because now I finally have hope! I am only 30 years old and was recently given the same exact diagnosis as you, and needless to say, like you I started to feel hopeless after doctors and physical therapy and spending a fortune only to be left with constant pain. I recently started pilates to work on that inner core strength you refer to but I am definitely going to check out your program! Thanks so much for posting!

  • jennifer
    Posted at 16:33h, 21 April

    Hey there Natalie! I follow your page and watch your workouts and can only hope to try them. I had a total hip replacement this past December due to Avascular Necrosis….had no choice but to go through with the surgery or else my joint would have collapsed. I also have a bulged disc in my back and arthritis forming in my other hip. I put on 40 lbs and in order to help increase the longevity of the replacement, I need to lose it plus another 60. The pain is barely there but my range of motion is limited and now it’s daunting to even walk a half mile. I watched your video about the stability ball and went out and purchased one because anything I do should be low impact. I very badly want to try your Rev program but am not sure I can do it. I am almost 40, 5’6″ and 262 lbs and I need to do something to build up some strength and shred some weight. I feel like my health and well being are in dire need of a positive change. I actually started taking a FDA controlled substance for weight loss that has a ton of side effects, not proud to tell you that but I’m to the point where I will try anything….I need help. Any info regarding the Rev program, if I can do it? Or maybe one of your other programs would be better? You are such an inspiration to me and would love your feedback. Much love, Jennifer

    • Natalie Jill
      Posted at 12:33h, 22 April

      Hi Jennifer. I would start with the Rev-4 for now…and very soon I’m going to have 3 more DVDs. But along with the working out, your nutrition will be KEY! If you do Rev-4 and just move more. If you can, just walk, walk, and walk some more (doesn’t matter how slow…just need to be moving)…and combine that with the Jump Start nutrition program, you will start peeling those pounds off week by week, and in a matter of time you will not only be at your goal weight, but you will have established healthy habits that will last a lifetime. Plus, it will take a lot of extra weight off your hip replacement, which will help a ton. More info on the jump start here: http://www.nataliejillfitness.com/7-day-jump-start

  • Allison
    Posted at 17:22h, 31 May

    Hi Natalie, I was just wondering if you could share some corrective circuit moves for the glutes. I have a hard time activating them, and would love to know at least one move to help, because I feel like my glute days are pointless and I get nothing out of them.

    • Natalie Jill
      Posted at 14:05h, 05 June

      Do lots of bridges, and when standing, clench your glutes as hard as you can! I hope this helps!

      • [email protected] Anderson
        Posted at 06:18h, 24 June

        I was Diagnosed in 2005 with fibromyalgia, bursitis in hips now sciatica very painful. I lost 61 lbs 2008-2012 injured that year by dementia patient which cause my fibro to flare up big time adding more illness & pain. Im out of work and gain it all back since. I’m depressed what can I do

      • Natalie Jill
        Posted at 14:13h, 07 July

        You need to get back to creating a healthy lifestyle for yourself. I think you might enjoy this blog http://www.nataliejillfitness.com/fibromyalgia-fit/

  • Denise Crawford
    Posted at 23:29h, 23 June

    Hi Natalie
    I’ve had severe back pain now for 18months for the first 7 months I couldn’t even lift my left leg to walk an operation helped with that in July 2014 but I still have severe back pain and I’m still unable to sit . I’ve not sat down to eat a meal for 18months I can’t drive or do anything that involves sitting . I can’t bend either . My back feels like it’s in an iron cast restricting all movement .ive had numerous injections seen osteopaths eat nothing has worked . I’m desperate . Would your Rev-4 DvD help me I’ll try anything . I can’t get on the floor tho . Please help me get my life back x

    • Natalie Jill
      Posted at 14:18h, 07 July

      Based on what you are telling me, I would go back to my doctor or medical professional. If you can’t move or bend, that is not good. Since you can’t get to the floor, if you were going to do anything, it would be the beginner DVD. http://www.nataliejillfitness.com/dvds I hope you feel better!

  • Dina Rosado
    Posted at 19:59h, 21 September

    Hi Natalie,

    I have been struggling with very similar back pain to what you have described for yourself. The pain started in February of 2014 at age 44. Although I don’t think mine is quite as intense and painful as you have described but at times it is pretty close!! I definitely need to relearn and revamp my training as I love to workout and have no intentions of stopping! You mentioned working with two NASM Certified Corrective Exercise Specialists. Are you able to give out their contact information so I can reach out to them as well for help or if you have other recommendations of where to find these specialists? I really need to take action on this back pain! Thank you so much! Dina

    • Natalie Jill
      Posted at 00:03h, 22 September

      Hi Dina. I would look/search for NASM corrective exercise specialists in your area, and I would also look for a good physical therapist/chiro that can help look at your muscularly and structurally. Be persistent and you WILL find a solution! It definitely took me a while to find one.

  • Conchita
    Posted at 10:18h, 07 February

    Hi Natalie, I read your post on back pain and I was diagnosed with the exact same thing as you, bulging discs and arthritis. I have gone through everything you mentioned ( pain pills, inflammation, cortisone shots, epidurals, pain management…etc). ., wear and tear of a long 30 year body posture of working with 3-5 years olds. I have changed work out methods and trainer. I have now been working for the past 6 months with a certified nutritionist and trainer in which I love and has made a huge difference. Can you give me some ideas for at home? Also, I wasnt sure which workout you offer is the best one for my needs. I didn’t see one specifically target for back pain strengthing .