Back Pain after a Car Accident [Podcast BPL26]

by | May 15, 2019

SHOW NOTES

Back pain after a car accident with today’s guest, Heather Pearson.

In 2001 Heather’s life was changed forever when she was involved in a serious car crash.

She didn’t feel the pain at first – onset was delayed for some time after the accident.

“I must have had a ridiculous amount of adrenaline. I didn’t feel pain for, I think it was about 10 hours”

During this time she started getting to grips with the inconvenience of a totaled car; admin jobs like contacting the insurance company and arranging a hire car.

Then the pain kicked in. She was barely able to move, let alone drive.

Everything else had to be put very much on the back burner as she struggled to get to the hospital accident and emergency department.

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Before that fateful day, Heather was enjoying a successful career in TV.

Outside work she had physically active and social pursuits in martial arts and club DJing.

Then there was the blossoming relationship with her boyfriend.

Life was sweet.

Overnight, she found herself in constant pain, unable to do function normally in the world. Heather became a different person.

Click the play button to listen to this episode now

What she didn’t know at that time, and only found out when she developed other symptoms years after the event, is that she had also suffered a traumatic brain injury (TBI).

Yet somehow she found the strength an determination to find her own way out of chronic back pain where the traditional medical approach just didn’t cut it.

Heather’s book, Back Pain Free: Put an end to your suffering with the Pearson Method, starts with the story of her own epic struggle to overcome crippling back pain.

The message is simple

“Look what I went through – if I can be pain-free, so can you”

Today’s episode is the first of 4 with Heather.

Stay tuned for a chance to win a copy of Back Pain Free.

Today’s Guest

Respected therapist, and author of

Back Pain Free: Put an end to your suffering with the Pearson Method

Heather Pearson

 

Live Pain-free Eliminate Chronic Pain without Drugs or Surgery

Back Pain and Depression

Living with back pain is draining.

You change your ways of moving and being to avoid making the pain worse; its tiring.

On top of this, of course, chronic pain just makes you miserable; as Heather says:

“Pain completely wears you down from a psychological standpoint. And so enjoyment of life is taken away from you, and you have no control over that”

 

 

Hi, I’m Iain Barker creator of Back Pain Liberation.

I got back pain young and it got worse over time. Like many others in this situation, I saw plenty of doctors and therapists – all to no avail.

In the end self-help worked best – it often does for bad backs. Now I train regularly, focus on what works, and don’t get back pain.

My goal is to share what I learned. To help you find a more effective way when treatment doesn’t hit the spot.

 

You have to curtail, or even give up, activities that are important to you.

It’s very easy to withdraw from the world and become increasingly isolated.

Another trap is the overuse of pain relief medication which can have dangerous side-effects. Heather tells us:

“It ruins your gut”

Similarly it’s easy to get into the habit of drinking too much alcohol.

We talk about ways to avoid falling into depression.

To accept the position that you are in and to make positive progress to improve your life.

Heather attributes her own success in becoming pain-free to a positive mindset:

“Never give up”

The Glutes and Back Pain

An important part of the book, and the Pearson method, is to find out if you have weak gluteal muscles.

Heather talks about 2 diagnostic tests she has developed that you can do yourself.

They are the Pearson clam test and the Pearson glute tension test.

“Every single person I’ve worked with with back pain, they’re weak in one or both group sets of glutes”

The tests are to point you in the right direction with which exercises you need to target your problem areas.

Thanks for Listening!

Have you had a back injury from a car accident? How did it affect you?

What worked for you to reduce or eliminate the pain?

Let us know in the comments below.

Thanks to Heather for her words of wisdom and inspiration. Last words from her:

“I’ve always said, I don’t regret the accident, because I wouldn’t be the person that I am, I absolutely adore my job. And I wouldn’t have had the success that I’ve had if I hadn’t had all those injuries”

All the best

Iain

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Full Episode Transcript

Iain Barker

Yeah, a couple of issues came up in the email before, which I wasn’t aware of. And you responded quite a long email saying it was all right to talk about anything. Is that the email that you mean?

Heather Pearson

Yeah, feel free …I, for some reason, I thought that I mentioned the tumour to you. Something that I, yeah, didn’t really tell a lot of people at the time.

Iain Barker

I can understand that. And I didn’t want to start talking about it without sort of getting the okay from you first. It struck me as I didn’t really understand what was going on with you. But the reason is, I mean, you’re busy today, you’ve got this responsibility of people calling you for advice. I know that you’ve got another meeting, after we talk. You’ve written a book, a comprehensive and quite a long book with an awful lot of detail, which has obviously taken a huge amount of work to do. You’ve got other things, you’ve got all this stuff going on in your life. And then I got an email from you recently, saying that you you have this, this brain injury, which, I’m guessing must be from the same car accident, which caused your back problems, is that right?

Heather Pearson

Yeah, it’s, yeah, typically, with TBI’s, you don’t really know you’ve got one. Until later on down the line, it’s different to having an injury. where, you know, for most people, you have an injury, you have pain in straight away, and then you know, you start fixing it with with a brain injury, that you either have a brain injury that’s so bad that you’re in a coma. And you know, you can’t walk and talk properly, that’s the most severe. Or the other side of the coin is where it takes years for symptoms to start for the brain to start deteriorating. And gradually your personality shuts off and the symptoms start to increase, and you start to get more and more more symptoms. And that’s very typical of a professional athlete, like a rugby player. [Yeah], American football player[Yeah.]

Iain Barker

Boxer maybe

Heather Pearson

Yeah. All of the above. [Yeah]. And, or, in my case, like something like, a very bad car crash. And then gradually the brain deteriorates. So yeah, I mean, I, I probably had my first symptom, five, six years after the accident. And, you know, obviously, in retrospect, thinking about it. So. But yeah, by the time I saw my brain doctor I was in, I was in a mess brain wise, Crikey.

Iain Barker

I do have a little bit of experience of brain sort of trauma, brain degeneration in that my mother passed away last year. And she’d been suffering from (I’ve forgotten the word!) dementia. Dementia

Heather Pearson

That’s ironic,

Iain Barker

Isn’t it? Yeah. And that was pretty painful.It went on for years. And seeing the person that you kind of know and love in that state was, it was very difficult. And what surprised me when you mentioned this, to me, is, you seem so organized, and you seem to have so much stuff going on, and you complete these projects, which, you know, would be beyond, I think most most people for the amount of determination, and the whole process that you described in your book, of going from a very sort of debilitating injury as a result of an accident, not getting the support that would have would have helped you. From the traditional sources, going to see doctors and all the rest of it, and effectively finding your own way to overcome this problem. This takes a huge amount of determination and organization. And then you kind of slip in at the last minute, oh, by the way, I I’ve got this sort of brain injury, and I find it hard to remember stuff. So you understand what I mean? I find it hard to kind of marry those two together.

Heather Pearson

Well, thank you for your kind words. And, I honestly thank my lucky stars that I have, that I’m I’ve always been like that, since I was a kid, I’m very lucky that I’ve always been an optimist and not a pessimist. But, and that I think just my personality’s that I’ve always got to get to the end of something and see it through. Had I not been like that personality wise, I you know, I have to be honest, I probably would have jumped off a cliff by now. But I mean, I’ve always been that sort of person, I like to be doing more things, not just a nine to five and then go home and, and watch TV. I’d always want to go to work, then I’d go to the gym and I go and DJ, that was always my life to do more than one thing. And nothing has changed. And I’m not the type of person to sit and kind of dwell on drama, I’d rather try and find a solution. And so and it’s some days, in the whole journey, some days, I have dark days, but at the moment, I’m struggling a little bit with with moods, but I know this is you know, my brain chemicals are all over the place. But there’s always that kind of desire of I want to get to the endpoint. I know there’s an endpoint and I want to get there. And it’s just the journey of how I get there. So and that is Yeah, I think I’m, I’m lucky the way I was brought up with my dad always taught me there’s no such word as can’t. You have to try. It’s all about effort. So I’ve always had that in the back of my mind ever since I had the car accident. So never give up, basically. So I think that’s what a lot of what’s driven me through as well as faith as well. So, faith, yeah, yeah, I don’t think I’ve ever had more faith in my life.

I have done probably in the last five, six years.

Iain Barker

Faith in God we mean?

Heather Pearson

Yeah, yeah.

Iain Barker

Good. So you are the creator of the Pearson method. You’ve written a book called back pain free put an end to your suffering with the Pearson method, which I’ve been studying over the last couple of days. And it’s the first part of the book is quite candid description of, you know, how you came to be where you are in your life and in your sort of professional life, which was the result of the accident, we just sort of touched on. But this, I’m going to kind of go out of sequence a little bit, because there’s a chapter about depression, you mentioned that if you hadn’t been the personality, that that you are, then you might have just jumped off a cliff. But in there, there is a section in that chapter on depression, where you were standing on on the edge of a train platform, thinking it’d be kind of easy to step out in front of the next train is, you know, it’s very sort of painful section of the book. And you there’s a quote from you here from that chapter, where you say, you became a very different person in a short space of time. Oh, yeah. And I can understand this being in chronic pain, it just wears you down all the time. And, and yet, somehow you managed to keep that core of yourself of motivation, and getting to the place of where you want to be.

Heather Pearson

Well, I mean, the I now I understand a lot more about the brain injury side of things, when you have a brain injury, your brain chemicals are instantly out of balance. And that’s that’s one thing that

leads to depression instantly.

Another thing that happens is, is when you have a brain injury, your gut is compromised, and your gut is your immune system so that that adds to the fact

Iain Barker

You mentioned putting on weight immediately after the exercise. Yeah,

sorry after the accident

Heather Pearson

after the accident, yeah, so again, with a with a brain injury, it’s normally your hormones are all out of whack, as much as your brain chemicals are out of work. And the problem with that is then it’s easy to become depressed and put on weight. And that’s actually a very, very common issue with brain injuries. However, pain without the brain injury, pain, you know, with dysfunction of the body, and in this case, my spine, you have to walk and sit and lie in a different position. Because the the impact of, of any type of force in this situation, like a car accident, or a fall off the horse, etc, you’re then walking in a different biomechanical frame. So your body has to work harder, because it’s now supporting a different type of frame. So you utilize more energy. So that’s the physical side of things that that that tires you out, then there’s the emotional side that you’re just constantly in pain. Regardless whether you’re sitting standing, you know, the amount of medication that you can take, and you’re still in pain, [yeah], completely wears you down from a psychological standpoint. And so enjoyment of life is taken away from you, and you have no control over that. And when you don’t have any control in life, then you become frustrated and frustration adds to the emotional impacts that you’re already going through. So it’s a combination of factors. [Yeah.] And as you said, pain wears you down. It’s a, you know, from an emotional standpoint, pain, and then you have the impact that pain has the brain on the gut, and then the detrimental effects that then that has on the rest of your body. You just go around in a vicious circle.

Iain Barker

Those were the words that were kind of in my mind just now, the vicious circle. I’ve got some quotes from the chapter here, you feel helpless and weak, and it’s easy to kind of withdraw socially and become a – you use the word recluse in the book.

Heather Pearson

Yeah, it’s one of the things that I suffered. And everyone knows me, even as a kid, for being loud and proud. Very loud, you know, I can talk for England at the best of times, and you know, always been a social butterfly. And to become a social recluse and have social anxiety was very strange for me to go through that

Iain Barker

It, kind of, undermines your sense of self, I suppose.[Yeah] I am this person, I’m outgoing, I’m active. And then, suddenly, that’s not the way it is anymore,

Heather Pearson

you change and, and that’s like the combination of factors we were just talking about, especially when your brain chemicals are altered, your hormones are altered the thyroid, the endocrine system, so female hormones, and thyroids for men and women

Iain Barker

I didn’t know this, do men have thyroids as well.?

Heather Pearson

Yes. You know, female hormones are very complicated. I’m not an expert,

Iain Barker

I know that

Heather Pearson

we are something like 65 times more complicated than men with hormones in that respect, but even with the thyroid, you know, effects of underactive thyroids, specifically from a brain injury, can can really have an effect on your mood has a massive effect on you. [Yeah], and but again, with or without the brain injury, pain, once that sets in, and your brain chemicals start to become imbalanced, and and then depression sets in, effects the gut, the gut is where you you, you make a lot of brain chemicals, the good the gut, the calming brain chemicals, so that adds to the depression. And before you know it, you’re a different person, and you don’t want to socialize with people. And you also don’t want to talk to people because you feel like a burden. Yes, that’s one of the one of the areas of depression. That’s the hardest, and this is where when I talk about in the book, you’ve got to have that that support network. Because if you don’t, and you you live life on your own, without having anyone to help you. That’s the when serious issues come into play.wiht mental health [Yeah]. And that’s, that’s a that’s a big, that’s a really big part of the book that a lot of people who have commented on who have read the book so far, [yeah], which is great that that’s helping.

Iain Barker

I saw a tweet recently from there was a study that was retweeted by one of my previous guests, Catherine Jacobson, Ramin. And it’s a study, I think it’s over in the US where they say that social isolation is possibly the most important factor in preventing people recovering from chronic pain. [Yeah,] so it’s a big deal.

Heather Pearson

It’s a huge deal. And this is, this is the fact where, and obviously, and I will probably touch on it, obviously, I’ve been going through this brain tumor stuff recently. And one of the things that I found I have to arrange friends to come over, even for me still now going through this process, it’s reminding me of what I went through back then, because when I’m on my own, it’s not, it’s not very good. I’m better off being around people, which, which brings you up. And it the studies that have been done on mental health and illnesses, chronic illness, chronic pain, that either having an animal, because love helps your faith, love helps your general demeanor, and having friends and family around. Again, having that support network to feed your to feed your energy, and to boost your positivity has a massive, massive impact on pain and chronic health in general. And it’s the it’s the hormone, the love hormone, which is escaped me right now. So remember, it’s

Iain Barker

endo something or other

Heather Pearson

oxytocin,

Iain Barker

oxytocin. Yeah. Okay. I was almost right…not really

Heather Pearson

oxytocin is the the love hormone, as they call it. And that love hormone can be you know, I talked about oxytocin with my football team. Again, you know, I talked about oxytocin with, with, you know, young, elite athletes, you know, we’re 12-13 years old, but it’s having that love of a parent having that love of, you know, as an adult having that love from a friend. It’s, it’s a, it’s a, a cheap way of, of helping to cure yourself. It’s amazing.

Iain Barker

Yeah. And the risk is that we try and use ever chemicals, isn’t it? For example, you talked about the link between gut health and pain relief medication?

Heather Pearson

Yeah, I mean, goodness, I, you kind of think I wish I knew then what I know now about medication.

Iain Barker

I think that about a whole load of stuff. If only I’d known this thirty years ago,

Heather Pearson

but it’s one of those things, you know, GPs have a job to do. [Yeah,] they learn what they learn. [Yeah], you can’t knock a GP they have to learn a lot about a lot. And that’s what they know, unless you’re, I think the only doctors I’ve come across that understand other elements of medication, like herbal and natural medication, are the ones that generally are private, and they’ll they’ll retrain. So, and those doctors, functional medicine, doctors, often you get medical doctors who retrain in functional medicine they’re amazing, you know, because then their licensed to prescribe the natural stuff. But the Yeah, I mean, normal medication. ruins your gut. And it’s, it’s been studied, there’s lots of research out there. [Yeah]. Plenty of research about how it damages your, the covering of your GI tract. [Yes]. And then it which can lead to issues like Crohns, leaky gut, you know, all sorts of gut issues, which I’ve probably had a lot of them, not just because of the medication, I had something else before that, but but medication does, it can ruin you. And the problem with that is when you have a when your gut is on a roll of demise on that path, then you’re looking at more pain, stomach, stomach pain, it affects your sleep, your sleep then affects your energy, you’ve got less energy anyway, because you’re in pain and your body’s in a different frame. And and so the cycle continues.

Iain Barker

When I was a kid, the pain I think, you know, those might have been aspirin in the house, but it was never sort of given out. You know, some people they feel pain that they start reaching for the medicine cabinet than a but when I was a child, pain relief was almost never given. You had to be at death’s death’s door basically, in our house. And these things kind of stay with you that know the way you brought up. Yeah. When I first started getting on going back problems, I would, I would take some paracetamol. And then it got to the point where I was taking it most days. And I thought, you know, I just can’t, I can’t do this anymore. That’s not gonna. That’s not a good idea to get in the habit of taking pain relief all the time. Yeah, it’s it is just medication. Sometimes it’s necessary. But if you can avoid it, I think that’s going to be for the best, isn’t it?

Heather Pearson

100%? I mean, if you’re in dire straits, I was in dire straits for a long time.[ Yeah]. You haven’t got a choice? [Yeah]. When you’re in so much pain?[Yeah.] When you need a 10 out of 10. pain? [Yes], I completely understand that for sure. But this is why I’ve written the book so that you can do the exercises, get the treatment, do the exercises, start weaning yourself off the medication because of the other effects, the detrimental effect it has on your health generally, which gives you more issues. But as you say, the way we’ve been bought up is you have a headache. You take a painkiller. That’s that’s the way we are as

Iain Barker

I think that is quite common. Yeah, yeah. And certainly wasn’t the way I was brought up. But yeah, I think is becoming more and more, more of a problem. Yeah.

Heather Pearson

But I think now, I think people are a lot more savvy to painkillers now and medication and a lot more savvy than than we’ve ever been as a society. holistic is a word used a lot, which is great, because a lot of people would rather go down the natural route, which is great. Which is how I get a lot of my patients, they don’t want surgery. So they want to do try other routes, which is, which is fantastic. And, you know, as we talked about painkillers they’re detrimental. Sometimes they’re necessary. But if you can get by with natural painkillers, which there are some some out there and and find the cause of the pain. [Yeah], that’s a much much better route to go down. For sure. [Yeah].

Iain Barker

So there’s a concept of first aid for your back. When you’ve initially for instance, in your case, it was very clear. What caused the problem. That was a car accident, although interestingly, you didn’t get the pain immediately. Did you in in the first few hours. It was almost like you were in a state of shock. Yeah,

Heather Pearson

I mean, I must have had a ridiculous amount of adrenaline. Yeah, I didn’t feel pain for, I think it was about 10 hours. And, and, and that’s just the adrenaline, the same way you see, I see when my athletes are, you know, on a on a football pitch or in a boxing ring or whoever it is. And it’s not until hours later that they suddenly start to feel pain because the adrenaline is running through the body. [Yeah]. And the impact of the car accident that was so strong. My heart rate was so yeah, so fast. My I couldn’t walk I had no control of my legs. So which would tell you how traumatized that my body was. So yeah, it took a long time for that adrenaline to wear off. [Yeah]. Which was not very nice. But it’s still interesting to to experience it from a way of understanding the body. And what I’ve seen with a lot of patients of mine as well.

Iain Barker

In the forward to your book, as it is written by Dr. I don’t remember the doctor’s name, but there was a

Heather Pearson

Ken Kinakin

Iain Barker

Yes, yeah. And there was he introduced the concept there for health care providers. That in relation to chronic pain, the tourist versus the native. Yeah, and the idea being that there are some, you know, perfectly capable and well trained, for instance, doctors who have no experience themselves of chronic pain, and they can treat you according to the book. But then you’ve got the native who, someone like yourself, who’s actually been there and can really understand from personal experience. How it is. It’s a big difference, isn’t it?

Heather Pearson

Yeah, I mean, it’s an interesting concept. the tourist versus the native I hadn’t come across that fully, really, until he wrote about it. And, and I always thought, as much as I, I have more injuries than anyone else I’ve ever met.

Iain Barker

It does seem as if you, well you’ve certainly had your fair share of setbacks. [Yeah, for sure]. And then some,

Heather Pearson

but but but then actually, I’ve always, I’ve always said, I don’t regret the accident, because I wouldn’t be the person that I am, I absolutely adore my job. And I wouldn’t have had the success that I’ve had if I hadn’t had all those injuries. So his his, his analogy of the tourist and the native. Is, is fantastic. Because, you know, the personal experience that I’ve had, has made me the therapist and trainer that I am. And that’s given me the ability to write the book, which I’ve had so much success with people reading the book, doing the exercises, and being pain free, just from reading from buying the book. Yeah.

Iain Barker

Okay, that that was something that I was going to ask you. Because there’s a lot in in the book. And as I understand it, in your method about of where the chronic pain sufferer, the back pain suffer, will be treated. So I guess the question is, can someone with back problems apply the principles in the book to help themselves? Or will they need outside help from from a therapist?

Heather Pearson

Well, the idea of that the book is like a manual, obviously, you got my story at the beginning, which is an option whether you want to read it or not. Most people will.

Iain Barker

I would think so it gives you authority, basically, yeah.

Heather Pearson

And I haven’t met anyone who hasn’t read that. And, and I know everything that’s in the book, there’s a reason for it. So the whole point of going into detail is to for the reader to resonate ‘look what I went through, and if I can be pain-free, so can you’ that’s the moral of that story. And, and so, and the authority, you’re right, because that’s this is that right? This is what this is, what the medication means. This is how you can help your gut this is how you can test yourself, diagnose yourself in chapter 14, there’s there’s the tests that that I’ve developed over the years, and this will tell you what’s going on. This will tell you if your glutes are working, which one, if this one isn’t working, what else is overworking.a lot of people who have who have bought..

Iain Barker

So sorry this is the Pearson glute tension test you’re talking about.

Heather Pearson

So there’s two tests, there’s the pearson clam test, and there’s the pearson glute tension test. And there are the two main movements of the glutes, there’s lots of movements, but the two main movements, which I found over the years, the pearson clam test is the main one. And this is the one that I find most people. In fact, every single person I’ve worked with with back pain, they’re weak in one or both group sets of glutes

Iain Barker

So these are two tests that both test whether your glutes are working as they should.

Heather Pearson

Yeah, yeah.So you can self diagnose to obviously, to an extent you can self diagnose. For the average person. I’ve recently had probably about 15 people on a project that I’ve just worked on, which unfortunately, I’m not allowed to talk about, unfortunately, because it’s a very, very, very cool project to work on. For the last six months. And a lot of people that I worked with, bought the book, I’ve had at least 15 people that reported that after buying the book, and and going through the exercises, within a week, their pain had disappeared, and some people their pain, had decreased by 50%, within a week from doing the exercises, which is great.

Iain Barker

It really is Yeah,

Heather Pearson

Yeah. I know! That’s great, great feedback.

What I I have reiterated is just because your pains gone doesn’t mean you’re completely cured. Yeah, so what I always suggest to people also, because I have a lot of conversations with people over email, have a lot of trainers that I work with around the world. And they asked asked me a lot of stuff about back pain. And I and also for them as well, for trainers or what you know, a lot of trainers and coaches. And I say the same thing, do the diagnosis, start the exercises and get one treatment at try at least one treatment. Otherwise, you’re, you know, you’ve got all the information there to help you everything in that book is there to help you fix your back pain. Some people might need more than one treatment. And the best treatment is ART, some people might need more because they’re more chronic. And that’s the difference between a chronic injury and a more acute injury, someone who’s hasn’t had back pain for very long, you should not in all cases, but generally should be able to get rid of it quite quickly. And someone who’s suffered back pain on and off for something like 20 years might take a little bit longer, but everyone’s different. So it does depend on other factors. You know how stressed you are how well you sleep, which will will have an impact on your recovery. How well you eat which has another big impact on your recovery, how much you exercise, how positive you are, how negative you are that is taken into account. But generally the book is there to say self diagnose, do the exercises, help nutrition help your gut if if you’re, you know that far down the line. If you’re having problems with the emotional side of it, here are lots of tools that you can use to help to help you and to help you adhere to your exercises as well. And to help you adhere to the nutrition and a load of other tips that you can only know if you’ve ever suffered pain. So it’s you know, combination of all of the above

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

Back Pain after a Car Accident [Podcast BPL26]

by | May 15, 2019

 

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Back pain after a car accident with today’s guest, Heather Pearson.

In 2001 Heather’s life was changed forever when she was involved in a serious car crash.

She didn’t feel the pain at first – onset was delayed for some time after the accident.

“I must have had a ridiculous amount of adrenaline. I didn’t feel pain for, I think it was about 10 hours”

During this time she started getting to grips with the inconvenience of a totaled car; admin jobs like contacting the insurance company and arranging a hire car.

Then the pain kicked in. She was barely able to move, let alone drive.

Everything else had to be put very much on the back burner as she struggled to get to the hospital accident and emergency department.

Today’s Guest

Respected therapist, and author of

Back Pain Free: Put an end to your suffering with the Pearson Method

Heather Pearson

 

Live Pain-free Eliminate Chronic Pain without Drugs or Surgery

Before that fateful day, Heather was enjoying a successful career in TV.

Outside work she had physically active and social pursuits in martial arts and club DJing.

Then there was the blossoming relationship with her boyfriend.

Life was sweet.

Overnight, she found herself in constant pain, unable to do function normally in the world. Heather became a different person.

Click the play button to listen to this episode now

What she didn’t know at that time, and only found out when she developed other symptoms years after the event, is that she had also suffered a traumatic brain injury (TBI).

Yet somehow she found the strength an determination to find her own way out of chronic back pain where the traditional medical approach just didn’t cut it.

Heather’s book, Back Pain Free: Put an end to your suffering with the Pearson Method, starts with the story of her own epic struggle to overcome crippling back pain.

The message is simple

“Look what I went through – if I can be pain-free, so can you”

Today’s episode is the first of 4 with Heather.

Stay tuned for a chance to win a copy of Back Pain Free.

 

Hi, I’m Iain Barker creator of Back Pain Liberation.

I got back pain young and it got worse over time. Like many others in this situation, I saw plenty of doctors and therapists – all to no avail.

In the end self-help worked best – it often does for bad backs. Now I train regularly, focus on what works, and don’t get back pain.

My goal is to share what I learned. To help you find a more effective way when treatment doesn’t hit the spot.

 

Back Pain and Depression

Living with back pain is draining.

You change your ways of moving and being to avoid making the pain worse; its tiring.

On top of this, of course, chronic pain just makes you miserable; as Heather says:

“Pain completely wears you down from a psychological standpoint. And so enjoyment of life is taken away from you, and you have no control over that”

 

You have to curtail, or even give up, activities that are important to you.

It’s very easy to withdraw from the world and become increasingly isolated.

Another trap is the overuse of pain relief medication which can have dangerous side-effects. Heather tells us:

“It ruins your gut”

Similarly it’s easy to get into the habit of drinking too much alcohol.

We talk about ways to avoid falling into depression.

To accept the position that you are in and to make positive progress to improve your life.

Heather attributes her own success in becoming pain-free to a positive mindset:

“Never give up”

The Glutes and Back Pain

An important part of the book, and the Pearson method, is to find out if you have weak gluteal muscles.

Heather talks about 2 diagnostic tests she has developed that you can do yourself.

They are the Pearson clam test and the Pearson glute tension test.

“Every single person I’ve worked with with back pain, they’re weak in one or both group sets of glutes”

The tests are to point you in the right direction with which exercises you need to target your problem areas.

Thanks for Listening!

Have you had a back injury from a car accident? How did it affect you?

What worked for you to reduce or eliminate the pain?

Let us know in the comments below.

Thanks to Heather for her words of wisdom and inspiration. Last words from her:

“I’ve always said, I don’t regret the accident, because I wouldn’t be the person that I am, I absolutely adore my job. And I wouldn’t have had the success that I’ve had if I hadn’t had all those injuries”

All the best

Iain

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Full Episode Transcript

Iain Barker

Yeah, a couple of issues came up in the email before, which I wasn’t aware of. And you responded quite a long email saying it was all right to talk about anything. Is that the email that you mean?

Heather Pearson

Yeah, feel free …I, for some reason, I thought that I mentioned the tumour to you. Something that I, yeah, didn’t really tell a lot of people at the time.

Iain Barker

I can understand that. And I didn’t want to start talking about it without sort of getting the okay from you first. It struck me as I didn’t really understand what was going on with you. But the reason is, I mean, you’re busy today, you’ve got this responsibility of people calling you for advice. I know that you’ve got another meeting, after we talk. You’ve written a book, a comprehensive and quite a long book with an awful lot of detail, which has obviously taken a huge amount of work to do. You’ve got other things, you’ve got all this stuff going on in your life. And then I got an email from you recently, saying that you you have this, this brain injury, which, I’m guessing must be from the same car accident, which caused your back problems, is that right?

Heather Pearson

Yeah, it’s, yeah, typically, with TBI’s, you don’t really know you’ve got one. Until later on down the line, it’s different to having an injury. where, you know, for most people, you have an injury, you have pain in straight away, and then you know, you start fixing it with with a brain injury, that you either have a brain injury that’s so bad that you’re in a coma. And you know, you can’t walk and talk properly, that’s the most severe. Or the other side of the coin is where it takes years for symptoms to start for the brain to start deteriorating. And gradually your personality shuts off and the symptoms start to increase, and you start to get more and more more symptoms. And that’s very typical of a professional athlete, like a rugby player. [Yeah], American football player[Yeah.]

Iain Barker

Boxer maybe

Heather Pearson

Yeah. All of the above. [Yeah]. And, or, in my case, like something like, a very bad car crash. And then gradually the brain deteriorates. So yeah, I mean, I, I probably had my first symptom, five, six years after the accident. And, you know, obviously, in retrospect, thinking about it. So. But yeah, by the time I saw my brain doctor I was in, I was in a mess brain wise, Crikey.

Iain Barker

I do have a little bit of experience of brain sort of trauma, brain degeneration in that my mother passed away last year. And she’d been suffering from (I’ve forgotten the word!) dementia. Dementia

Heather Pearson

That’s ironic,

Iain Barker

Isn’t it? Yeah. And that was pretty painful.It went on for years. And seeing the person that you kind of know and love in that state was, it was very difficult. And what surprised me when you mentioned this, to me, is, you seem so organized, and you seem to have so much stuff going on, and you complete these projects, which, you know, would be beyond, I think most most people for the amount of determination, and the whole process that you described in your book, of going from a very sort of debilitating injury as a result of an accident, not getting the support that would have would have helped you. From the traditional sources, going to see doctors and all the rest of it, and effectively finding your own way to overcome this problem. This takes a huge amount of determination and organization. And then you kind of slip in at the last minute, oh, by the way, I I’ve got this sort of brain injury, and I find it hard to remember stuff. So you understand what I mean? I find it hard to kind of marry those two together.

Heather Pearson

Well, thank you for your kind words. And, I honestly thank my lucky stars that I have, that I’m I’ve always been like that, since I was a kid, I’m very lucky that I’ve always been an optimist and not a pessimist. But, and that I think just my personality’s that I’ve always got to get to the end of something and see it through. Had I not been like that personality wise, I you know, I have to be honest, I probably would have jumped off a cliff by now. But I mean, I’ve always been that sort of person, I like to be doing more things, not just a nine to five and then go home and, and watch TV. I’d always want to go to work, then I’d go to the gym and I go and DJ, that was always my life to do more than one thing. And nothing has changed. And I’m not the type of person to sit and kind of dwell on drama, I’d rather try and find a solution. And so and it’s some days, in the whole journey, some days, I have dark days, but at the moment, I’m struggling a little bit with with moods, but I know this is you know, my brain chemicals are all over the place. But there’s always that kind of desire of I want to get to the endpoint. I know there’s an endpoint and I want to get there. And it’s just the journey of how I get there. So and that is Yeah, I think I’m, I’m lucky the way I was brought up with my dad always taught me there’s no such word as can’t. You have to try. It’s all about effort. So I’ve always had that in the back of my mind ever since I had the car accident. So never give up, basically. So I think that’s what a lot of what’s driven me through as well as faith as well. So, faith, yeah, yeah, I don’t think I’ve ever had more faith in my life.

I have done probably in the last five, six years.

Iain Barker

Faith in God we mean?

Heather Pearson

Yeah, yeah.

Iain Barker

Good. So you are the creator of the Pearson method. You’ve written a book called back pain free put an end to your suffering with the Pearson method, which I’ve been studying over the last couple of days. And it’s the first part of the book is quite candid description of, you know, how you came to be where you are in your life and in your sort of professional life, which was the result of the accident, we just sort of touched on. But this, I’m going to kind of go out of sequence a little bit, because there’s a chapter about depression, you mentioned that if you hadn’t been the personality, that that you are, then you might have just jumped off a cliff. But in there, there is a section in that chapter on depression, where you were standing on on the edge of a train platform, thinking it’d be kind of easy to step out in front of the next train is, you know, it’s very sort of painful section of the book. And you there’s a quote from you here from that chapter, where you say, you became a very different person in a short space of time. Oh, yeah. And I can understand this being in chronic pain, it just wears you down all the time. And, and yet, somehow you managed to keep that core of yourself of motivation, and getting to the place of where you want to be.

Heather Pearson

Well, I mean, the I now I understand a lot more about the brain injury side of things, when you have a brain injury, your brain chemicals are instantly out of balance. And that’s that’s one thing that

leads to depression instantly.

Another thing that happens is, is when you have a brain injury, your gut is compromised, and your gut is your immune system so that that adds to the fact

Iain Barker

You mentioned putting on weight immediately after the exercise. Yeah,

sorry after the accident

Heather Pearson

after the accident, yeah, so again, with a with a brain injury, it’s normally your hormones are all out of whack, as much as your brain chemicals are out of work. And the problem with that is then it’s easy to become depressed and put on weight. And that’s actually a very, very common issue with brain injuries. However, pain without the brain injury, pain, you know, with dysfunction of the body, and in this case, my spine, you have to walk and sit and lie in a different position. Because the the impact of, of any type of force in this situation, like a car accident, or a fall off the horse, etc, you’re then walking in a different biomechanical frame. So your body has to work harder, because it’s now supporting a different type of frame. So you utilize more energy. So that’s the physical side of things that that that tires you out, then there’s the emotional side that you’re just constantly in pain. Regardless whether you’re sitting standing, you know, the amount of medication that you can take, and you’re still in pain, [yeah], completely wears you down from a psychological standpoint. And so enjoyment of life is taken away from you, and you have no control over that. And when you don’t have any control in life, then you become frustrated and frustration adds to the emotional impacts that you’re already going through. So it’s a combination of factors. [Yeah.] And as you said, pain wears you down. It’s a, you know, from an emotional standpoint, pain, and then you have the impact that pain has the brain on the gut, and then the detrimental effects that then that has on the rest of your body. You just go around in a vicious circle.

Iain Barker

Those were the words that were kind of in my mind just now, the vicious circle. I’ve got some quotes from the chapter here, you feel helpless and weak, and it’s easy to kind of withdraw socially and become a – you use the word recluse in the book.

Heather Pearson

Yeah, it’s one of the things that I suffered. And everyone knows me, even as a kid, for being loud and proud. Very loud, you know, I can talk for England at the best of times, and you know, always been a social butterfly. And to become a social recluse and have social anxiety was very strange for me to go through that

Iain Barker

It, kind of, undermines your sense of self, I suppose.[Yeah] I am this person, I’m outgoing, I’m active. And then, suddenly, that’s not the way it is anymore,

Heather Pearson

you change and, and that’s like the combination of factors we were just talking about, especially when your brain chemicals are altered, your hormones are altered the thyroid, the endocrine system, so female hormones, and thyroids for men and women

Iain Barker

I didn’t know this, do men have thyroids as well.?

Heather Pearson

Yes. You know, female hormones are very complicated. I’m not an expert,

Iain Barker

I know that

Heather Pearson

we are something like 65 times more complicated than men with hormones in that respect, but even with the thyroid, you know, effects of underactive thyroids, specifically from a brain injury, can can really have an effect on your mood has a massive effect on you. [Yeah], and but again, with or without the brain injury, pain, once that sets in, and your brain chemicals start to become imbalanced, and and then depression sets in, effects the gut, the gut is where you you, you make a lot of brain chemicals, the good the gut, the calming brain chemicals, so that adds to the depression. And before you know it, you’re a different person, and you don’t want to socialize with people. And you also don’t want to talk to people because you feel like a burden. Yes, that’s one of the one of the areas of depression. That’s the hardest, and this is where when I talk about in the book, you’ve got to have that that support network. Because if you don’t, and you you live life on your own, without having anyone to help you. That’s the when serious issues come into play.wiht mental health [Yeah]. And that’s, that’s a that’s a big, that’s a really big part of the book that a lot of people who have commented on who have read the book so far, [yeah], which is great that that’s helping.

Iain Barker

I saw a tweet recently from there was a study that was retweeted by one of my previous guests, Catherine Jacobson, Ramin. And it’s a study, I think it’s over in the US where they say that social isolation is possibly the most important factor in preventing people recovering from chronic pain. [Yeah,] so it’s a big deal.

Heather Pearson

It’s a huge deal. And this is, this is the fact where, and obviously, and I will probably touch on it, obviously, I’ve been going through this brain tumor stuff recently. And one of the things that I found I have to arrange friends to come over, even for me still now going through this process, it’s reminding me of what I went through back then, because when I’m on my own, it’s not, it’s not very good. I’m better off being around people, which, which brings you up. And it the studies that have been done on mental health and illnesses, chronic illness, chronic pain, that either having an animal, because love helps your faith, love helps your general demeanor, and having friends and family around. Again, having that support network to feed your to feed your energy, and to boost your positivity has a massive, massive impact on pain and chronic health in general. And it’s the it’s the hormone, the love hormone, which is escaped me right now. So remember, it’s

Iain Barker

endo something or other

Heather Pearson

oxytocin,

Iain Barker

oxytocin. Yeah. Okay. I was almost right…not really

Heather Pearson

oxytocin is the the love hormone, as they call it. And that love hormone can be you know, I talked about oxytocin with my football team. Again, you know, I talked about oxytocin with, with, you know, young, elite athletes, you know, we’re 12-13 years old, but it’s having that love of a parent having that love of, you know, as an adult having that love from a friend. It’s, it’s a, it’s a, a cheap way of, of helping to cure yourself. It’s amazing.

Iain Barker

Yeah. And the risk is that we try and use ever chemicals, isn’t it? For example, you talked about the link between gut health and pain relief medication?

Heather Pearson

Yeah, I mean, goodness, I, you kind of think I wish I knew then what I know now about medication.

Iain Barker

I think that about a whole load of stuff. If only I’d known this thirty years ago,

Heather Pearson

but it’s one of those things, you know, GPs have a job to do. [Yeah,] they learn what they learn. [Yeah], you can’t knock a GP they have to learn a lot about a lot. And that’s what they know, unless you’re, I think the only doctors I’ve come across that understand other elements of medication, like herbal and natural medication, are the ones that generally are private, and they’ll they’ll retrain. So, and those doctors, functional medicine, doctors, often you get medical doctors who retrain in functional medicine they’re amazing, you know, because then their licensed to prescribe the natural stuff. But the Yeah, I mean, normal medication. ruins your gut. And it’s, it’s been studied, there’s lots of research out there. [Yeah]. Plenty of research about how it damages your, the covering of your GI tract. [Yes]. And then it which can lead to issues like Crohns, leaky gut, you know, all sorts of gut issues, which I’ve probably had a lot of them, not just because of the medication, I had something else before that, but but medication does, it can ruin you. And the problem with that is when you have a when your gut is on a roll of demise on that path, then you’re looking at more pain, stomach, stomach pain, it affects your sleep, your sleep then affects your energy, you’ve got less energy anyway, because you’re in pain and your body’s in a different frame. And and so the cycle continues.

Iain Barker

When I was a kid, the pain I think, you know, those might have been aspirin in the house, but it was never sort of given out. You know, some people they feel pain that they start reaching for the medicine cabinet than a but when I was a child, pain relief was almost never given. You had to be at death’s death’s door basically, in our house. And these things kind of stay with you that know the way you brought up. Yeah. When I first started getting on going back problems, I would, I would take some paracetamol. And then it got to the point where I was taking it most days. And I thought, you know, I just can’t, I can’t do this anymore. That’s not gonna. That’s not a good idea to get in the habit of taking pain relief all the time. Yeah, it’s it is just medication. Sometimes it’s necessary. But if you can avoid it, I think that’s going to be for the best, isn’t it?

Heather Pearson

100%? I mean, if you’re in dire straits, I was in dire straits for a long time.[ Yeah]. You haven’t got a choice? [Yeah]. When you’re in so much pain?[Yeah.] When you need a 10 out of 10. pain? [Yes], I completely understand that for sure. But this is why I’ve written the book so that you can do the exercises, get the treatment, do the exercises, start weaning yourself off the medication because of the other effects, the detrimental effect it has on your health generally, which gives you more issues. But as you say, the way we’ve been bought up is you have a headache. You take a painkiller. That’s that’s the way we are as

Iain Barker

I think that is quite common. Yeah, yeah. And certainly wasn’t the way I was brought up. But yeah, I think is becoming more and more, more of a problem. Yeah.

Heather Pearson

But I think now, I think people are a lot more savvy to painkillers now and medication and a lot more savvy than than we’ve ever been as a society. holistic is a word used a lot, which is great, because a lot of people would rather go down the natural route, which is great. Which is how I get a lot of my patients, they don’t want surgery. So they want to do try other routes, which is, which is fantastic. And, you know, as we talked about painkillers they’re detrimental. Sometimes they’re necessary. But if you can get by with natural painkillers, which there are some some out there and and find the cause of the pain. [Yeah], that’s a much much better route to go down. For sure. [Yeah].

Iain Barker

So there’s a concept of first aid for your back. When you’ve initially for instance, in your case, it was very clear. What caused the problem. That was a car accident, although interestingly, you didn’t get the pain immediately. Did you in in the first few hours. It was almost like you were in a state of shock. Yeah,

Heather Pearson

I mean, I must have had a ridiculous amount of adrenaline. Yeah, I didn’t feel pain for, I think it was about 10 hours. And, and, and that’s just the adrenaline, the same way you see, I see when my athletes are, you know, on a on a football pitch or in a boxing ring or whoever it is. And it’s not until hours later that they suddenly start to feel pain because the adrenaline is running through the body. [Yeah]. And the impact of the car accident that was so strong. My heart rate was so yeah, so fast. My I couldn’t walk I had no control of my legs. So which would tell you how traumatized that my body was. So yeah, it took a long time for that adrenaline to wear off. [Yeah]. Which was not very nice. But it’s still interesting to to experience it from a way of understanding the body. And what I’ve seen with a lot of patients of mine as well.

Iain Barker

In the forward to your book, as it is written by Dr. I don’t remember the doctor’s name, but there was a

Heather Pearson

Ken Kinakin

Iain Barker

Yes, yeah. And there was he introduced the concept there for health care providers. That in relation to chronic pain, the tourist versus the native. Yeah, and the idea being that there are some, you know, perfectly capable and well trained, for instance, doctors who have no experience themselves of chronic pain, and they can treat you according to the book. But then you’ve got the native who, someone like yourself, who’s actually been there and can really understand from personal experience. How it is. It’s a big difference, isn’t it?

Heather Pearson

Yeah, I mean, it’s an interesting concept. the tourist versus the native I hadn’t come across that fully, really, until he wrote about it. And, and I always thought, as much as I, I have more injuries than anyone else I’ve ever met.

Iain Barker

It does seem as if you, well you’ve certainly had your fair share of setbacks. [Yeah, for sure]. And then some,

Heather Pearson

but but but then actually, I’ve always, I’ve always said, I don’t regret the accident, because I wouldn’t be the person that I am, I absolutely adore my job. And I wouldn’t have had the success that I’ve had if I hadn’t had all those injuries. So his his, his analogy of the tourist and the native. Is, is fantastic. Because, you know, the personal experience that I’ve had, has made me the therapist and trainer that I am. And that’s given me the ability to write the book, which I’ve had so much success with people reading the book, doing the exercises, and being pain free, just from reading from buying the book. Yeah.

Iain Barker

Okay, that that was something that I was going to ask you. Because there’s a lot in in the book. And as I understand it, in your method about of where the chronic pain sufferer, the back pain suffer, will be treated. So I guess the question is, can someone with back problems apply the principles in the book to help themselves? Or will they need outside help from from a therapist?

Heather Pearson

Well, the idea of that the book is like a manual, obviously, you got my story at the beginning, which is an option whether you want to read it or not. Most people will.

Iain Barker

I would think so it gives you authority, basically, yeah.

Heather Pearson

And I haven’t met anyone who hasn’t read that. And, and I know everything that’s in the book, there’s a reason for it. So the whole point of going into detail is to for the reader to resonate ‘look what I went through, and if I can be pain-free, so can you’ that’s the moral of that story. And, and so, and the authority, you’re right, because that’s this is that right? This is what this is, what the medication means. This is how you can help your gut this is how you can test yourself, diagnose yourself in chapter 14, there’s there’s the tests that that I’ve developed over the years, and this will tell you what’s going on. This will tell you if your glutes are working, which one, if this one isn’t working, what else is overworking.a lot of people who have who have bought..

Iain Barker

So sorry this is the Pearson glute tension test you’re talking about.

Heather Pearson

So there’s two tests, there’s the pearson clam test, and there’s the pearson glute tension test. And there are the two main movements of the glutes, there’s lots of movements, but the two main movements, which I found over the years, the pearson clam test is the main one. And this is the one that I find most people. In fact, every single person I’ve worked with with back pain, they’re weak in one or both group sets of glutes

Iain Barker

So these are two tests that both test whether your glutes are working as they should.

Heather Pearson

Yeah, yeah.So you can self diagnose to obviously, to an extent you can self diagnose. For the average person. I’ve recently had probably about 15 people on a project that I’ve just worked on, which unfortunately, I’m not allowed to talk about, unfortunately, because it’s a very, very, very cool project to work on. For the last six months. And a lot of people that I worked with, bought the book, I’ve had at least 15 people that reported that after buying the book, and and going through the exercises, within a week, their pain had disappeared, and some people their pain, had decreased by 50%, within a week from doing the exercises, which is great.

Iain Barker

It really is Yeah,

Heather Pearson

Yeah. I know! That’s great, great feedback.

What I I have reiterated is just because your pains gone doesn’t mean you’re completely cured. Yeah, so what I always suggest to people also, because I have a lot of conversations with people over email, have a lot of trainers that I work with around the world. And they asked asked me a lot of stuff about back pain. And I and also for them as well, for trainers or what you know, a lot of trainers and coaches. And I say the same thing, do the diagnosis, start the exercises and get one treatment at try at least one treatment. Otherwise, you’re, you know, you’ve got all the information there to help you everything in that book is there to help you fix your back pain. Some people might need more than one treatment. And the best treatment is ART, some people might need more because they’re more chronic. And that’s the difference between a chronic injury and a more acute injury, someone who’s hasn’t had back pain for very long, you should not in all cases, but generally should be able to get rid of it quite quickly. And someone who’s suffered back pain on and off for something like 20 years might take a little bit longer, but everyone’s different. So it does depend on other factors. You know how stressed you are how well you sleep, which will will have an impact on your recovery. How well you eat which has another big impact on your recovery, how much you exercise, how positive you are, how negative you are that is taken into account. But generally the book is there to say self diagnose, do the exercises, help nutrition help your gut if if you’re, you know that far down the line. If you’re having problems with the emotional side of it, here are lots of tools that you can use to help to help you and to help you adhere to your exercises as well. And to help you adhere to the nutrition and a load of other tips that you can only know if you’ve ever suffered pain. So it’s you know, combination of all of the above

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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