A study in the January 2018 edition of the Journal of Biomechanics uncovers a possible key to preventing back pain in runners.
The study suggests that runners with weak deep core muscles (quadratus lumborum, psoas major, multifidus, deep erector spinae) are at higher risk of developing low back pain. And unfortunately, most people’s deep core muscles aren’t nearly as strong as they should be.
They found that weak deep core muscles force more superficial muscles like the abs to work harder and reach fatigue faster. When those superficial muscles are doing the work the deep core should be doing, there are often painful consequences.
They go on to say that traditional ab exercises with a large range of motion, such as sit-ups or back extensions, will not give you the strong core needed to be a better runner.
The idea that exercising only the superficial core muscles is not enough to help prevent lower back problems is the basic premise for my “Wiggle in Your Walk Testing and Exercise Program”
You must identify the weak and tight muscles around the pelvis, hips and spine then rebalance them for proper stability.
Most new runners assume that the best way to improve is simply to run greater and greater distances. While it’s true that going farther and faster will improve your running skills, most coaches and trainers will advise some level of strength training as well. Focusing on your core is a common suggestion. A recent study seems to back this up. In the Journal of Biomechanics, researchers investigated a symptom that has long mystified runners from novice to elite: A good chunk of runners, 14 percent to be exact, experience chronic lower back pain. The results of the new study seem to suggest that weak deep core muscles might be to blame. When these muscles aren’t strong enough, the study found, muscles on other areas of the torso kick in to keep the runner upright, eventually leading to back pain.
As it turns out, when a person can’t use their deep core muscles very well, their bodies still want (and need) to maintain a good running form, and uses superficial muscles to do so.
What’s wrong with that? A muscle is a muscle, right? Not exactly. While the superficial muscles are often targeted in workouts—they give you a six-pack, after all—they are pretty useless when it comes to supporting your spine. The deeper core muscles, which essentially lie beneath and can’t be seen from the outside, do all the heavy spinal lifting
When you are pounding the pavement for miles at a time, you put a lot of pressure on your spine. If you’ve got strong deep core muscles, that’s no problem. If not, your running could eventually lead to chronic back pain. In fact, the researchers found that when they dialed down deep core muscle strength as low as it could go in their simulation, the load on each vertebra increased—often by as much as 19 percent. It’s easy to see how that kind of pressure could add up to big problems over time.
If you’re staring down at your useless six pack in dismay, never fear. You can easily whip your deep core muscles into shape as well. The authors note that while many of the most popular ab workouts, like sit-ups or other exercises that involve a large range of motion, are pretty useless for your deep core, fixed exercises like planks or side bridges go a long way.
It’s important to note that even when you’ve made these muscles super strong, you won’t likely notice visible results. They’ll never give you washboard abs. But they will probably help you run better, and definitely help prevent potentially debilitating chronic back pain. So take a few crunches out of your rotation and throw a nice long plank in—or just do both

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Muscle Balancing

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What causes Sacroiliac (SI) Joint Pain?

sacroiliac pic2

Like any other bone and joint in the body, the large bones of the pelvis and the SI joint can become damaged either through injury or normal wear and tear. The joint can become disrupted or its support ligaments can become loose. Potential causes of SI joint pain include degenerative disease, history of trauma, and other unknown reasons. Symptoms may be immediately obvious (acute) or over time (chronic). When this happens, people can feel problems in their upper leg(s), buttocks and sometimes even higher on the spine. This is especially true with sitting, lifting, running, walking, or even sleeping on the involved side. In all of these cases, the symptoms can be felt anywhere from the lower leg to the lower spine.

The SI joint is a real yet underappreciated pain generator in an estimated 15% to 25% of patients with axial low back pain.1

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Could My Lower Back Pain Be Caused By Sacroiliac Joint Dysfunction?


 sacroiliac pic 1

Do You Have Sacroiliac (SI) Pain or Dysfunction?

The sacroiliac (SI) joint is often overlooked as a source of back pain. Issues with the SI joint can cause pain from the low back down through the lower buttocks and upper legs. This happens when the sacroiliac joint (located in the pelvis) becomes disrupted or injured, (e.g., after an injury or pregnancy).

If you have low back pain, it is a good idea to mention assessment of the SI joint to your doctor. There are comprehensive diagnostic techniques now available.


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Official Book Launch

A large crowd gathered on a very stormy winter night to help celebrate the launch of my book

The Thunder Bay Art Gallery was the perfect backdrop for the event.

book launch collage

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Tiger Tiger: What Are You Thinking?

Shortly after Tiger Woods’  back surgery in March of 2014, I wrote a piece on another blog with the above title.

I wasn’t concerned about  his choosing to have surgery. It sounds like the herniated disc needed to be repaired.I was concerned that what caused the disc to deteriorate wasn’t being talked about or dealt with. I have watched Tiger since he came on the tour. Those who know me will tell you that I predicted back trouble in the future for Tiger. Why?

Well….it’s not directly  because of his hard swing as one might suspect . If you take a close look at Tiger’s walking pattern you will notice a very distinct rolling around the hips (the wiggle in his walk). This is caused by pelvic sacroiliac joints that are not functioning properly. He has lost the normal “flip” “flop” motion of a normal walking pattern. This wiggle not only changes his gait but puts great added stress on his lower back which can lead to premature degeneration of lower back discs. Add to this scenario powerful gluteal and upper leg muscles and you have a disaster waiting to happen.

Watch this video and you will see what I mean.


Tiger has tried twice to return to the tour and twice has been forced to withdraw with back spasms.

Am I surprised……no. The underlying problem (the wiggle in his walk) has still not been dealt with and is still causing a mechanical breakdown in the lumbar spine.

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the docs blog

here is my first post

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