LHD Podcast 004: Listen Here;
LHD Podcast 004 – How to Get Rid of Lower Back Pain – An interview with Frank Corcoran.
“Within about two minutes of walking in the room with Frank, you realize that something is going on. I like to call him the Sherlock Holmes of kinesiology because he’ll look at you for a brief moment, he’ll know where your pain is…how you’re trying to compensate for it and…what he has to do that day to try and make you better.”
IN THIS EPISODE, YOU’LL LEARN:
- Paul has dealt with chronic back spasms most of his life.
- Treatment with Frank gave him tools to shake it off.
- How to reset your body into a natural, balanced state.
- Many of us have corrupted “programing” which contributes to our chronic conditions.
- Frank uses many tools to help his patients reset themselves including using simple memories.
- Frank helps us analyze our pain in a nonjudgmental way.
- Simple practices that can help you relieve pain anytime anywhere.
- Learn how to NOT exercise and get “strong crooked.”
Plus more on how you can make meaningful changes to help you control lower back pain….
LINKS AND RESOURCES MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE:
Frank: “We are a society that looks for pain relief and now it’s starting to swing a little bit more, prevention is becoming bigger. So the only thing again I would change is getting you out of pain – it’s just a first step. You being able to live that way, is the intent of this work.”
Thanks for LISTENING!
Thank you again for your support,
Remember, today is the first day of the rest of your life so make it count. Have a great day.
© 2014, Man Mountain Productions, Inc.
How to Get Rid of Lower Back Pain – Interview Frank Corcoran.
Paul: So listeners, as promised I am keeping the podcast active and today I am at Living Well Bodywork and Therapeutic Massage, 207 Washington Street, Salem, Massachusetts. The URL is www.livingwellsalem.com. And I’m standing in one of the therapy rooms with the owner Frank Cocran. Frank has a reputation as one of the most respective body workers in the area. He is well learned, Frank has been a massage practitioner for over 25 years. This is from the website. His education began at the Myotone Institute and continued on to include and it’s a long list so I’m not going to go there but I’ll tell you Frank is amazing, he knows his stuff. What’s interesting is Frank trains all the Living Well therapists to ensure consistent care throughout the practice. Frank’s gentle manner and ability to communicate with people in pain has been a tremendous benefit to many. And I can attest that he really works well with the therapists as a team. So I’m just going to take a moment. Frank, I want to welcome you to the Lifehacker Diet podcast and I appreciate your time and we’re very excited to hear what you have to say today. So could you just tell me what services you offer here at Living Well and what makes you a little different from your competition?
Frank: At Living Well, we offer therapeutic massage, bodywork, acupuncture and spa services. The biggest difference is we do employ a team approach to people’s care. We label Living Well, a wellness center because of those different modalities and how we weave them together to meet people’s individual needs.
Paul: Okay. And I must — on full disclosure I must say that I have used your services recently. And it was a wonderful experience. So I just want to talk about how Frank in my perspective, you know, is different in how he really struck me. Within about two minutes of walking in the room with Frank, you realize that something is going on. I like to call him the Sherlock Holmes of kinesiology because he’ll look at you for a brief moment, he’ll know where your pain is, he’ll know how you’re trying to compensate for it and he’ll know what he has to do that day to try and make you better. It’s quite an incredible process. In fact I enjoy coming for the benefits for me but I have to say just watching Frank’s work is just as much fun. So, hopefully you’ll get a feel of what Frank does and what’s so special about him and the services he offers here. So Frank, I came in with lower back issues. I’ve always had lower back issues. I’ve recently recovered from a little more serious lower back issues and I came in because I have just kind of a hot spot in my lower right back. And I knew that it was going to flair up at some point in time and I wanted some tools to be able to try and prevent it or slow it down or stop it. So, I thought what we do today is maybe just go through some of the processes that you use to help your patients. And hopefully our listening public can get some good ideas of what they can do to try and protect themselves. And the reason this really plugs into Lifehacker Diet is because we’re talking about getting people more active. You know, instead of sitting on their butts for eight or nine hours a day at a computer screen; we’re talking about getting them moving. So we want to make sure when they are moving, they don’t hurt themselves or if they do have pain, how they can deal with it; deal with it in a good sense, not deal with it and ignore it. So, why don’t we take me as a scenario? I’ll let you work on me here and we’ll go from there.
Frank: Sure. So when you first came in your right, my assessment starts the moment I walk into a waiting room I’ll see people sitting. I’ll watch them get up and walk towards the room, their mannerisms, how they are moving. I’ve been doing this for 25 years or longer. My ability to see bodies and the language that the bodies are putting out is good. It’s like anyone else who has been in a field for a long time. So that’s when it starts. I can tell when someone reaches out to shake my hand whether they have neck issues or back issues, I can tell how they tip their head with their eyes track as to what degree of pain they maybe in or disassociated from the pain? You are a great example of someone coming in who knows what it’s not, I’m not surgical. I may have done some physical therapy and may have been successful but I may well have fallen into a pattern of movement or a lifestyle that has this chronic situation keep going.
Paul: And that’s exactly what was happening.
Frank: Right, you are right.
Paul: I was there, last summer every three or four weeks I’ve had a back spasm. It wouldn’t be completely debilitating but I would, you know, walk around, a little crooked for a day or two and kind of work it out but that’s exactly what was happening.
Frank: Right, so what we did is we looked at your lifestyle and what happens in that is, is we will do repetitive things in how we move and how we hold ourselves becomes very normal, so we are no longer able to observe it. People just telling you to change things, sit up straight, lift your head, suck in your stomach. Those things are not sustainable nor do they feel comfortable.
Paul: Yeah, I think we all have a mother or father who tells us to do those various things.
Frank: What compounds that, is those corrections are usually very judgmental in nature.
Frank: They’ll set off…
Paul: They are loaded.
Frank: They are loaded. They’ll actually set off most of the time the same muscles that are bothering you. It will tighten up with those type of reactionary commands. And most people have tried it. And if it really was as simple as stand up straight, well, we wouldn’t have the amount of people suffering from back pain that we do.
Paul: Got you.
Frank: So, I saw you come in, I saw a fit person, someone who’s been doing movement and exercise. So that’s the other part of it. The exercise alone was going to fix it, then people would exercise and be better. So throughout the years, my focus has been what could be the underlying irritant that has people stay in pain? Paul: Okay. So, you actually had me doing a couple of interesting exercises which I would never have thought to do. So, do you want to just come here and demonstrate to me and our audience?
Frank: What I did with you was I helped you to first recognize how you stood, what muscles were tight. I did that in a way that allowed you to observe yourself non-judgmentally. I was able to help you to understand that, oh look, my knees lock a bit, my stomach might protrude out a bit, my shoulders might come forward. People will quickly label that slouching when in fact it’s not, it’s your body crouching to protect you. So what we were able to do was to introduce a movement that was so gentle yet triggered such in an opposite response. And that was to have you simply stand and walk backwards slowly and I think the image I gave you as is, as if you’re going to catch a Frisbee.
Paul: Okay. So this is something that people can try at home?
Frank: Absolutely. What I’d ask them to do is to stand comfortably, clearly make sure there’s nothing behind you.
Paul: Good, good point.
Frank: Let yourself rest into whatever — a posture that feels normal. And then just most, most people notice where your gaze is. And for most people who have back issues, you’ll find immediately your gaze is halfway down a wall, perhaps lower. And I can’t emphasize enough exaggerate that so you can really feel how your body stands when you just let it go like that. Then from the air, slowly and gently just walk backwards and just remember what it would be like if a Frisbee was coming at you then it’s a little bit over your head. And you will find that your body walking backwards, the first thing to do is catch its balance. And then your whole body will lift and change shape with that muscle memory. And then stand and notice your body again, notice where your gaze is. Chances are you’ll have a slight sense of lift, those things occur when you’re balanced. So what would you like?
Paul: Alright, so just to go over it again, we want people to have clear space and they are going to walk backwards as if they are going to catch a Frisbee.
Frank: A Frisbee a football, anything that might be gently travelling above their head and for most people I say, do you remember doing this? Lot of people with back issues are playing Frisbee, so it’s a memory, it’s a solid memory.
Frank: And witness how that your muscle memory kicks in and brings you to a much more natural place, normal may will be forward natural is lifted.
Paul: Wow, okay. So, once they do that, what’s the next step?
Frank: Well, the next step would actually be to do it again.
Paul: Oh, okay.
Frank: The — again if…
Paul: Rip, somebody be.
Frank: Really yes. And what you are doing is two things, when you repeat this, you’ll start to be able to more like observe your position. It will start to be something that you’ll go wait this is a way I stand. And when I walk backwards to catch the Frisbee or the ball, oh this is a different way of standing. So by repeating that four or five times, you’ll create a contrast, you’ll now recognize they are two distinct things. Again coming back to it just standing up straight would do it, I would say walk backwards, now stay that way. Yeah, it’s not really possible to do. So you’ll repeat that four or five times and then just go back to your day. Do it again later on in the day. You will start to notice that it becomes easier and easier to walk backwards into balanced and lifted way. Eventually what will happen it will only take a half a step backwards and your body will remember.
Paul: So, what will this actually do for people?
Frank: The big thing it does is it first creates a new — or well, and it has you remember how to move. So now you have this pattern, I often times, I will label it with a color. When you step back within your balancing, we’ll label it as a color so you have something that’s not judgmental. A lot of people will call it blue or when I’m tall and lifted, I’m blue. That’s the shape I’d like to get stronger. So now if I start to exercise, the first thing I do if someone is going to, let’s say they will do a squat, I’ll have them step backwards into blue. And then the message is, can I add squatting to blue? It’s a recipe. Most people do the work with the hope that it will turn them blue or lifted; it does not work that way. You need to start lifted, you need to start in blue then when you add things to it, you’ll strengthen your ability to be in that shape.
Paul: So you are really in a way you are reprogramming the way people use their bodies. I mean we’ve used our body for 20, 30, 40,50 years in a certain way and what you are doing is you are kind of giving us, you know, it’s almost like poem to say, you know, walk backwards, you do that thing that gets you into that space of blue lifted. And then do thing you want to do.
Frank: Yes, I love the word program often times with this level of technology when people do things again and again and have pain day to day tasks if you want to call them programs like walking forward get corrupted. They become corrupted, so…
Paul: We need to reboot ourselves.
Frank: Right. And that’s exactly what I tell people. The act of walking backwards sets off a very natural sense of coming to balance and I’ve never had anyone who has found that threatening a lot of things that people are told to do in some way are threatening to the body because the body is tight. So yes, we’re actually accessing a pro rim that has not been corrupted, remembering it and then applying that program to other activities.
Paul: And I must attest to this because one of the things that Frank taught me to do was when I walk, basically I — it’s hard to describe because I’ve internalized it. But basically I go in to a process of raising my upper torso and gently engaging my belly muscles. And so when I go dog walking, I get down the stairs, I put up — you know, I get the dog leash where I wanted to be and then I just kind of like an erector set, I kind of expand and go walk. And completely takes the pain out of my back. And so I’m just trying to apply that more and more so that it becomes more natural. So I’m basically reprogramming myself so that I’m doing things in a more comfortable way and protecting my back. And I can attest that it’s worked. One of the things that I think we share a lot Frank is, would Lifehacker Diet and with the way you work, we’re not telling people what to do, we are trying to invite them to find ways to use our knowledge or our sign posts to reinterpret in their lives and their personalities. You know, and one of the things I say with Lifehacker Diet is this is what I’ve done, use it as a starting point for what how you can change your life and in small ways to make big differences. So I just want to talk about how you do that because you have a rather unique approach and you also get to know your patients very well, so.
Frank: Yes, I do get to know them very well in terms of what they’ve asked me, what their goals are. So I think how it aligns is small changes are sustainable, achievable and create the biggest changes on our overall life. My advantage is that I can have a dialogue with a person, understand through their body also what they are telling me, when people tell me what’s going on, their body will show it. If someone is weary, they — the big symptoms, you know, they might put their hand to their head, those are exaggerated things but people’s bodies will express where the areas of tension are. My goal is to be able to help them come to that lifted balanced place gently so then I can apply the modalities we have here. I can use massage therapy to loosen up muscles, I can help them change their tension, we can use acupuncture to bring the nervous system down as a whole, decrease inflammation. Essentially, bring that whole nervous system down so there is not that level of excitement and if that creates those tension responses. My job is to make your life easier, my job is use all these tools so you can more effortlessly be balanced.
Paul: And I also noticed in our sessions that you would ask me something then often you would close your eyes and just listen to my voice. And I find that fascinating because you say, I can hear that, you know, I can hear in your voice that you’re feeling better or I can hear, you know, so it’s you’re kind of like, as I said, a Sherlock Holmes. I mean, it’s quite amazing.
Frank: A part of that and people have pointed that out to me before, we live in a age where the amount of data coming in from different places, is quite honestly can be overwhelming. So, what I’m doing when I close my eyes quite often is I’ve seen you, I’ve taken a picture of your will in my mind and then I limit the amount of information coming in so I can process that. So I’m actually, I would see what you look like and then, yes, tone of voice, cadence of your speech, language that you’ve used will help me again indicate at what level you are achieving that goal.
Frank: I’m excited about this and you can hear in the voice. Frank, I did this, oh my gosh, I walked backwards and my back pain went away. And that starts the journey. Is it possible then for you to take that and apply to dog walking? Yes, can we take that and apply to yoga? Yes and just with practice.
Paul: Right. Okay, so let’s rewind a little bit and go back to the exercise of walking backwards. So it’s something that people should do a couple of times a day. And they should just start to feel and appreciate and recognize what is different when they walk backwards. And you know, if a color works for them or a shape or a sound or something that you can kind of put a tag to this feeling, that’s something that people can do. I love colors, I actually — I use colors to describe flavors a lot. So that’s my thing but everybody will have their thing that they come up with. So you want to basically associate that body position, shape…
Paul: With the colors so that you can actually or with this thing, this tag, so that you can actually call the tag anywhere you are and your body will, you know, like a well trained dog, just kind of go back into position and put you there. So and I’ve been finding that that’s been working for me. So I think that’s a very interesting strategy for people to understand because, you know, when we are in pain, we take a pill. When we have a cut, we put a band-aid on it and when we have back pain, we put a color on it or a shape or a sound or something. So I think that’s a very interesting way of looking at that and I know that it’s worked for me. What else can people get from this process of walking backwards and kind of resetting? How else can they apply it?
Frank: I think the key is what you said is tagging the behavior. For people to exaggerate behaviors build strength, the idea of standing and standing as if you are exhausted as to stand you take when you’re in pain and labeling that starts to desensitize you to it. The problem with chronic pain is people will come in and have broad reaching statements. I am in pain, I am a mess. I have this and it becomes their way of being. So, the idea of labeling it, again they can observe it now, it just becomes a behavior. And then stepping out of that behavior and labeling the next behavior, actually builds your nervous system. It makes you stronger. It separates things out in a way. The act of walking backward triggers balance, a slow gentle walk backwards is probably more balancing than people would do in a day, only just observing your behavior and that realm is probably more that people do in a day. Paul: So this brings up a topic that we’ve discussed before which is mindfulness and I think this is a very simple application of mindfulness.
Paul: So what we’re doing is we are creating an iconic language, color, sound, whatever you like that allows us to pull in like a mini program, like a little app of mindfulness that we’ve practiced. So by walking backwards, by getting a sense of what’s different in your body by understanding that feeling and by applying that to a sound or a color or whatever you want that you can call on, you’re basically running an app when you need it, if, you know, we’re all technically — technologically inclined with our iPhones and stuff. So, this is something that you can call in on a daily basis, you know, when you feel it, when you need to, if you are walking down the hall at work and you feel something, you just call in that color and it’s kind of your superhero that comes and put you in the right position and you can walk through, you know, whatever is going on or at least to practice because the end result of this is, what, that you want to walk like that all the time, right?
Frank: Well, the ability for you to look at behaviors like and if someone has, let’s call them standing tired, let’s tag that yellow to use your language. The mischief with that is if people don’t know the yellow then they’ll exercise at moving yellow and I call it getting strong crooked. So if people are able to step back and tag that blue, there’s a real clear idea that that’s the shape they want to make stronger. The only thing I’d interject in your scenario was people come to me because they are in pain or discomfort. That’s catching up with people a lot, and I will phrase it that way. You had 10 years to get this way, I need to catch up with you a bit. So practicing this or doing this, in the beginning, the goal is to get you out of pain and we use these tools but then the goal is for you to practice that when you are not under stress or duress, when there is more time and when you can have less things causing distress. So yes, in a hallway if you’re walking down the hallway and you’re not in a rush, that’s a perfect time to practice that just for a few steps and let it go. We are a society that looks for pain relief and now it’s starting to swing a little bit more, prevention is becoming bigger. So the only thing again I would change is getting you out of pain – it’s just that first step. You being able to live that way is the intent of this work.
Paul: So, and I think this really applies well to Lifehacker Diet and you know, one of the things that I am really pushing and has transformed my body and my life is that I’m starting to look at things synchronizely. So in the past I used to consider going grocery shopping for the family once a week to be a pain in the butt and I didn’t enjoy it. And a little bit of a mind shift and I realize that, oh, I’m walking one to three miles while I’m grocery shopping. I am lifting heavy bags that I can use to exercise my arms and to burn some extra calories. Not only that, I can put my podcasting app on and I can learn something or I can listen to music or I can listen to a radio show or something. So, suddenly grocery shopping that I was grumbling about, you know, a year and a half ago has suddenly become something that I look forward to and it’s an athletic event for me because, it’s like, oh great, I can get three miles. I get extra exercise for my upper body plus I can learn something new or listen to music or whatever, I can’t wait. And, you know, what I want people to do is to look at everything they do in their life. And just do that mind shift, just as Frank is giving you a mind shift of how your body should feel. I’m giving you a mind shift that’s telling you, you know, you can exercise and work, you can exercise and communicate — you can — there is nothing saying that you have to go to the closest parking spot in the parking lot, go to the furthest one and walk. It’s an extra five minutes but you know what, you’re going to burn calories. My kids, they might be able be a little more spoiled since I’ve been doing this Lifehacker thing because when they say, I need something from the basement, I use to say, go get it yourself. Probably a good policy but now it’s like, oh, I’ll get it because I am burning calories. It’s like — it’s a benefit for me, It reduces a little stress in the household which is nice but the important thing here is that rather than a moment in our life being singular and there should absolutely be singular moments where you’re not thinking about anything else but there is certainly in our busy lives an opportunity to take a moment and multitask it in positive ways whether it be turn on the blue light for a little bit while you’re grocery shopping. So you get that feeling again or whether it be realizing that grocery shopping is actually a way of burning calories and, you know, hitting your 10,000 steps that day so that you can have that little extra snack or not. So what I want people to do is I want you to consciously make the decision to have a blank moment which we should all have everyday where you think of nothing and you just feel your body which is a form of meditation. But also in the other moments, I want you to think of how you can multitask to benefit yourself whether be through exercise. Whether when you’re eating something instead of going for the tortilla chips, you’d go for the sugar snap peas or whether it be turning on the light or the color that is going to help reduce pain or teach you how to reprogram your body. And I think that’s what’s unique about what Frank does and I think what’s unique about Lifehacker Diet and what really kind of turned me on to wanting to do a podcast, is it’s just another way to take those appropriate moments in your life , in your day and multitask them. And multitask them so they’re benefitting you in a positive way. And so that’s really the take home message that I hope everybody gets from this. I want to thank Frank very much for giving us this wonderful image and wonderful tools to be able to just stay healthy while you’re at there walking. Stay healthy and Frank is here seven days a week, five days a week, whatever. He is here to help and he’s got a great staff and I’ll tell you after Frank works on you, you will not want to go anywhere else. So, we’ll just conclude, Frank, thank you very much for taking the time today to talk with me about this. And I’m sure our audience will be able to apply the tools that you taught us and be better for it.
Frank: Well thank you.
Paul: Thank you very much.
Frank: Thank you very much for having me and I do hope — I hope some of that message comes out clearly and I invite people to come in even if it’s to chat with me first to see if I’m the right person or whether it’s the right place for them. And I look forward to being able to help as many as I can using this methodology.
Paul: Wonderful, and again everybody it’s www.livingwellsalem.com. So be sure to check it out. So thank you everybody. I appreciate you taking the time to listen to this podcast where I’m a little new with this. So we’re going to get better and better every time and I certainly appreciate all your comments. If you want to go to iTunes or to the show notes and you can make comments and ask questions. Maybe we can get Frank in that conversation. I don’t know, we’ll give it a try but definitely let’s have a conversation about this and let’s move it forward and make everybody healthier and happier. So I’m going to sign off, Paul Michaels, LifehackerDiet.com podcast. Have a wonderful day.