All About Me
Updated August 15, 2016
My Story About Back Pain
I am Sherwin Nicholson. I am 46 years old and live in Aurora, Ontario, Canada. I am happily married to a wonderful, loving wife and have two awesome kids. I have trained, worked and instructed in the Medical Research field for 22 years and have a Specialist Honours Bachelor of Science Degree in Human Biology.
My career as a Researcher began in Vascular Surgery, investigating Abdominal Aortic Aneurysms and the Pathways of the Immune System. I also performed Research as a Surgical Technologist at the Neuroscience and Mental Health Department at the Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids), Toronto, Canada. My specialty of expertise is in Stereotaxic Surgery and Optogenetics. I have trained staff in my expertise at the IUPUI (Indianapolis).
I spend my career and personal time focusing on back pain research, associated rehabilitation exercises and operating and running this site. My hobbies include weight training, running, skating, skiing, and planted aquariums. I am deeply and forever committed to providing safe and honest information for all of those in search of relief from lower back pain. The response that I have had with this site has been simply amazing! I have made a difference with thousands of lives with my site reaching virtually every country in the world.
My Life with Back Pain
I have suffered from a long history of severe, crippling, chronic, lower back pain issues. My issues ranged from herniated disc to severe disc degeneration and countless back spasms. My history of low back pain began in my early twenties with recurring back spasms and occasional disc herniation. I lived a very active and fit lifestyle then including cardiovascular exercise, martial arts and weight lifting. During this time, I struggled with the pain, discomfort and the subsequent loss of freedom and mobility associated with back injury and pain.
My back pain began after graduation from The University Toronto and entry into my career. Long auto commutes, desk and bench work, and the lack of exercise contributed to the risks that led to chronic back pain. Constant neglect of adequate back rehabilitation exercises eventually led to more progressive and serious risk of lumbar disc injury. I focused very little on my back health and simply assumed that everything was fine and the issues were temporary.
Injuries taken for granted
This resulted into eventual herniation of the lumbar discs while active. This began a cycle of limited exercise to maintain back health, improper rehabilitation and constant use of prescription anti-inflammatory and analgesic medication to manage pain. I suffered through this hopeless cycle for over a decade.
This cycle prevents any proper rehabilitation to recover from disc herniation. It advances the aging processes that come with degenerative disc disease. Poor experience into root causes of low back pain greatly contributes to this vicious cycle.
After several years of this struggle, my mobility, quality of life and personal activities were limited. I did not see any hopeful scenario in which recovery was possible and doubted any return to the active lifestyle previously enjoyed. I went through a period of at least ten years where I had believed that I had exhausted all means of treatment and resigned to a limited lifestyle. This had a serious effect on my personal life, marriage, family life and hobbies.
I would continue to go through a viscous cycle beginning with back spasm, leading to severe back herniation or my back going out to the point where I would be collapsed and immobile on the ground for long periods of time with an attack and requiring several doses of Tylenol to regain mobility. I needed many sick days from work also. My employer even took great notice on the effect that it had on my job.
Denial & pain medication as a coping mechanism
Days later, after my back would feel better, I would assume that it was healed. I then resumed weightlifting and performing other dynamic and very demanding fitness routines such as martial arts. I would always wake up the next morning in pain, totally stiff and immobile and very distraught not knowing why I felt such pain after a good evening the night before.
It was mental torture to go from an exercise high the night before without pain, to crippling pain the next morning. I repeated this cycle for years. I went through the typical routine of assuming that my issue was long term, permanent and that the only help was use of painkillers and having to abandon my favorite exercise lifestyle which was very disheartening and hard to give up.
Painkillers were certainly effective but only for as long as I was taking them. Some of the medications were prescribed. I took them routinely and carefully rationed them and staggered them with over-the-counter drugs, feeling that I couldn’t feel comfortable without them. I was well aware of the dangers and risks involved with their use but didn’t see any other alternative. I relied on these drugs simply because I thought that they were the proper method to treat my back pain. I only associated my pain solely as pain related to nerve and disc damage even arthritic in nature. Also, it was the only recommended method of treatment that I thought was effective from my family physician and other health professionals.
I would be quick to choose painkillers as my first method of pain management over any other treatment because my pain tolerance was exhausted and thin. I also felt that I had seen all possible health professionals and had gotten all the best help but each of them in my opinion failed to treat me because as long as the pain persisted. I would quit their treatment plan and move on to another professional treatment plan.
I continued this method of treatment for such a long time that it was actually of great relief compared to the ten years of untreated pain that was endured. This was almost a great weight lifted off of my shoulders and believed that proper long to relief was found and that I was getting appropriate treatment long as others like me were. This relief allowed me to relax but I knew that I was severely limited to a drug dependent life in order to receive this kind of relief. I would constantly compare this pain relief to my best days of daily pain and would look to it as the best option.
Resorting to accepting a very limited & painful lifestyle
My discomfort and pain became so debilitating, that basic things that others did and take for granted, I could not even do. This was as simple as sleeping through the night without waking several times. Getting dressed in the morning and being able to put on your socks, underwear or pants without assistance was a challenge everyday. Leaning over to pull up your pants was tough as I could not move my hips well at all.
My back would always be very stiff and immobile every single morning for years. I kept acetaminophen and ibuprofen at the beside and drank them in order to get through the morning. Lifting and moving simple objects would trigger a back spasm easily for me. There were many times that I would spasm on my drive to work and would have to pull myself out of the vehicle and almost crawl to the lab to lie directly on the lab floor for hours to manage.
I feared driving especially for long periods of time because I would have to pull over and get out from cramping. I had constant tingling and shooting pain running down my legs. I knew that on my good days, I was only doing well because of the drugs that I was taking. I was no longer able to carry my young kids around in my arms and when you are in your thirties, this is very saddening. I became progressively private about my pain and eventually stopped seeking professional care as what was suggested to me was not enough to help.
I took all of this as something strangely normal and that it was something to accept. Here, I believed that I was simple one of the few people out there that had a ‘bad’ back that was going to be a permanent part of my life.
At this point in my life, I had no idea that I was so far from proper, real and long lasting relief from my low back pain. I would resume much of my exercise routines and continue to pop painkillers as needed thinking that my pain was purely chemical and nervous in origin and was easily fixed with two appropriate pills overnight.
Reality Sets In….
It was not until I decided to request a lumbar X-ray, that I truly understood and came to terms with the serious underlying issues going on with my back.
Before the x-ray, my impression was that my spine was physically sound but just irritated or inflamed from daily overuse. The X-ray and diagnosis revealed that at 38 years of age, I had severe disc degenerative disease, two bulging discs and some vertebral osteophyte formation. My L5-S1 was very degenerated and this resulted in very limited mobility.
The results were shocking, scary and depressing. I was in a daze for many days and felt even more hopeless and resigned to a limited life. I knew that any reversal of these processes were out of the question and believed that it could only get worse.
A very big question was raised be me as never before. What did I do to cause this specific damage at such a young age?
My tolerance for pain was instantly overshadowed by my need avoid it
I did not want this to get worse. I was afraid. My research instincts sincerely kicked in at that point.
I researched about the lumbar vertebrae, the discs involved, the sacroiliac joint, hips and pelvis. The numerous associated muscle groups involved in the stability and health of the lumbar spine and hips. The core muscle groups.
This was an area that I gave very little consideration and time. I assume that because I was very physically fit (according to my knowledge at the time) that these areas were well conditioned. It turns out that these areas were very poorly conditioned and unable to protect my back from the abuse that I was putting on it for years.
As I researched, studied, experimented and tested endless possible ways to address my pain and damage, I began to edge closer with real and effective method to treat my pain and to avoid further damage. I also spent and wasted a lot of time and money on various treatments, books, etc…
Determination and real change for the future
I made a commitment to the value of stretching and also finding, learning and developing specific exercises that would mobilize my very stiff joints and muscles. It was an obsession for me now to develop more flexibility and to be passionate about it without quitting. My discs were damaged long term, so I knew that the cycle would have to be stopped so that further damaged could be avoided. Quitting was NOT an option and I became committed to learning about lower back pain.
As I persisted with the stretches and low back exercises, the pain would not go away at first but it would change in amount, intensity and also location. Back pain involved me taking the approach of removing layers and layers of problems. As one, is addressed and the discomfort went away, another would surely appear underneath but with a different effect. That is why I would not quit as my perspective changed from wanting immediate relief, to wanting to relieve the different ‘layers’ of pain that built up over time.
I found that there were many, many muscles, ligaments, and joints that weren’t active and moving well or at all. These were the ones that should and that my back wound up overcompensating and suffering for it. I worked hard to return all the responsibility back to these areas so that my lower back would suffer less. After a very long period of effort, time, and persistence, the layers came off, mobility improved and pain would subside. This time, it was long term.
Finally, a real turnaround
My relief was effective, specific and long lasting. Pain that I thought would never subside began to slowly and surely disappear. Layers of discomfort were slowly resolved and would not return with each exercise and treatment. I developed greater stability, muscular endurance, strength and flexibility than ever before. I quit my pain medication since the results of my x-ray and have not required them since.
Now, I am back to a real, pain free and truly happier lifestyle with my family. I have none of the above mentioned problems and enjoy a full life involving many physical activities as before including weightlifting, jogging, swimming, downhill skiing, skating, prolonged snow shoveling and many others. These activities no longer trigger or cause any discomfort whatsoever.
Even after hours of heavy snow shoveling, I am pain free before, during and after. I do not use pain medication. There have been times where I have placed too many demands on my back and have naturally felt discomfort. Everyone does. However the discomfort would only be tiredness and I would fully recover within an hour or two instead of several hours, days or weeks as before.
My Promise to Help Others with Lower Back Pain
The methods, technique and exercises for the lower back that I learned, developed and used to treat myself in order to recover and avoid low back pain, are what is in the program. The program for most of us would involve initially a heavy investment in time, physical effort, discipline, commitment and trust. We all realize that overcoming lower back pain is a long road and is not easy. A truly effective program for it should not be expected to be easy either. There is a lot that happens to your back before it ‘complains’ as it is very resilient and tough. So the long term goal to treat it should require significant time.
The entire research and rehabilitation process required three challenging years to develop and study in order to complete a plan. During this time of trial and error, I was able to achieve a pain free lifestyle.
After returning to a fully active and rewarding lifestyle, I was compelled to help others in the same situation. I would help teach them the methods so they would ease their own discomfort. Many were using the same approach that most use including myself of many years.
I was surprised how many don’t realize the many beneficial adjustments they can make to help themselves. Some of the exercises are what is already available to us online and by others. The difference is in the methods and techniques used to make them effective.
This is what inspired me to develop a website and eBook in order to offer this low back exercise program. The exercise program will allow others to recover carefully and progressively, within weeks to months and hopefully with a reduced need for medication. This program and site has become very popular with respect to website traffic, downloads and positive feedback. I am forever grateful for those who have found the information on this site of great value.
My commitment to keeping and operating this site is forever and I will continue to add to it daily.
Everything I state on this page is my honest truth. I am not trying to make false claims or stretch any truths. All that I claim can be validated through my current actions, continued health, the hundreds of relatives that I have as witnesses and supporters, and my belief in a Program that I rely on and want for others everyday.