Back Pain at a Young Age | BPL25

by | May 4, 2019

You know the stereotype – back pain is for old people and couch potatoes.

It’s kind of embarrassing to complain of back pain at a young age; to feel stiff and fragile in your twenties or 30s.

Read more

Free Webinar Reveals the Secrets Of


Beat Back Pain


With former chronic back pain sufferer

and host of the Back Pain Liberation Podcast

Iain Barker

This is an update of a post which was first published in February 2017. It is now also available in audio format on the Back Pain Liberation Podcast – episode number 25.

Click the play button to listen to this episode now

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Back Pain at a Young Age

– Read More


Okay, so you may not be doing the Iron Man Challenge any time soon.

You’re in pretty good shape though. Certainly no worse than your contemporaries.

Why is your back stiff and sore while everyone around you seems, well, normal?

(Even the ones who actually are carrying a few extra pounds.)

Is it always going to be like this? Pain and restriction, your whole life?

If you already have back pain at a young age, will it get worse as you get older? Will you end up disabled?

Even more frustrating is that you can’t get a firm diagnosis from your doctor.

Is Your Mindset Making It Worse?


Sometimes, the best way to solve a problem is to think about it in a different way.This can be difficult though.

Especially if we have to re-examine some of our basic assumptions about how stuff works; as well as habits that have developed over time.

This post’s about three young, fit people who overcame serious back problems


Despite their active lifestyles, all 3 developed back pain at a young age.

The common theme in their success stories is that they stopped relying on doctors or therapists and took charge of their own well-being.

Understandably, back pain sufferers often struggle with this way of thinking.

The idea is widely accepted, however, in the medical profession

According to the Australian Dept. of Health sitepainHEALTH:

“It’s smart not to rely too much on people doing things ‘to you’. Its much better to find things that you can do yourself to control your pain and get your life back.”

We interrupt this web-page with a special announcement:

Free Webinar Reveals the Secrets Of


Beat Back Pain


With former chronic back pain sufferer, and

host of the Back Pain Liberation Podcast, Iain Barker

About Me



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.


One Simple Tip That Makes a World of Difference


Hugh’s Story

Yachts and margaritas, now there’s a cool combination.

At 25 years old, Hugh Howey threw his back out – moving the margarita machine on a yacht.

Not so cool – crippling back pain at a young age.

The rest of the cruise was agony.

Unfortunately for Hugh, this was just the beginning of a decade of back problems. Some episodes were so bad that he couldn’t get up out of bed.

Having your back muscles locked up in spasm is frightening. And debilitating.

It’s extremely painful and puts you flat on your back for days – or longer.

In this acute phase, the spine will often be bent out of shape. Literally.


But here’s the thing….


Back pain at a young age is unlikely to mean something like disc degeneration or arthritis.

What feels like a serious injury is, in most cases¹, a protection mechanism kicking in.

After a strain or sprain, the system locks down to prevent serious damage.

This (very normal and natural) perception of serious harm brings it’s own problems.

Long after any real injury has healed, our sub-conscious protection systems factor in this exaggerated danger assessment.

The protective pain/lock down response is triggered more easily. It’s more likely that you will you throw your back out again.

Once this pattern is established, chronic pain can develop.

According to pain specialist Professor Lorimer Moseley, persistent pain is ‘very unhelpful’ and is generally a malfunction in the pain sensing system rather than an accurate reflection of damage.

Prof. Moseley is a very funny guy…he has the crowd eating out of his hand in this TED talk.

Again, for most people, back pain doesn’t mean serious damage.

Accepting that your back isn’t broken, just sore, is an important step in getting better.

According to Hugh:

“Researchers have found that back pain plagues those who think of their backs as fragile and easily injured. Those who think of their backs as okay and resilient to injury avoid pain. The miracle is that those in the former group can simply decide to be in the latter group….that’s what I did”

This was part of a complete change of mindset for Hugh. He decided to take control of his own well-being and tackle the problem head-on by:

  • accepting that his back pain wasn’t caused by any structural defect
  • reducing stress
  • exercising ‘more intelligently’

Why Do Some People Get Back Pain at a Young Age – Even Though They Train Regularly?


We are used to conventional training methods and ways of thinking.

Our attention is focused on how fast or how heavy or how many reps.

Often there is loud music or TV to distract us still further from the experience of moving and being; to make us feel pumped and push through the pain.

Perhaps this way of working just isn’t for you


Allison’s Story


Allison was a “weight-lifting, boot-camping, marathoning, personal trainer”.

The problem with this goal-oriented mindset was that, despite being super fit, she had chronic back pain.

After three back surgeries, the pain returned yet again. Her usual workouts became impossible.

Against her better judgement, Allison, tried yoga classes.

She was so impressed with the results that she implemented some major changes. The exercise routines she had practiced for years were dropped.

Consider other types of exercise with a completely open mind


Maybe one of the styles that you’ve always dismissed will be the one that actually helps you ditch the pain.

People often notice drastic improvement when they change to a different way of training; something that’s more focused on well-being and less interested in arbitrary external goals.

How to Exercise for Back Pain Relief


The most effective training methods for back pain focus on relaxation. This is kind of obvious; your back muscles are tight, it’s going to help to relax them. The problem is most people don’t know how.


We think of relaxation as lounging in front of the TV or hanging out with friends; maybe something to do after the gym.

To beat back pain, we need an active process of relaxation while we train. To learn more efficient ways, both to move and to be still, instead of fighting against tension.

Fortunately, there are many ways to train that help you to let go of tension and properly relax.

It’s a matter of finding the one that suits you best.

Luckily for Allison, she had stumbled upon a new way to train that made her feel better, healthier. For her, this was Bikram Yoga:

“I was getting the strength training, cardio and agility……all the while healing me instead of tearing me down”

She stopped using pain medication. Her range of movement returned to normal and a 4th back operation was cancelled.

Another key focus area is posture


Good posture goes way deeper than just standing up straight.

In fact it is intimately linked to relaxation.

Whereas an upright posture is ideal, there is a risk that you can try too hard. Too much tension is going to make back pain worse.

Good posture starts with standing tall, whilst also being properly relaxed.

The magic really starts to happen when you can stand, sit and do all the activities that you want with good alignment and relaxed efficiency.

Dave’s Story

Dave Kirschner’s a sports guy with his own cheerleading training business.

I learned a few things about cheerleading from Dave’s back pain success story.  Apparently, when cheerleader teams do stuff like build pyramids, this is called stunting.

‘Bases’ are the athletes on the ground. They have to be fit and strong enough to hold up the ‘flyers’ while they do their thing.

Back in college, Dave was ‘throwing cheerleaders all over the place’ for these stunts.

Unfortunately for Dave, he started to suffer from back pain at a young age.

Three doctors told him he needed surgery to fix herniated discs²

Luckily, he decided to seek yet another opinion. Dave followed the recommendation of this 4th doctor and tried Pilates.

With regular training he was able to relax and felt his back “loosen up”.

In time the pain was gone completely and he can continue to work in sport pain free.

Inner focus and postural awareness is another key area if you want to improve your back pain.

Dave describes the benefit of improved posture and proper relaxation he developed from Pilates training:

“You feel way more flexible, not tight or constricted and really understand how to move your body the right way.”

Don’t Make This Mistake


All of us are subject to stress. Some of us experience a barrage of stressors every day.

Your twenties and thirties can be stressful times.

Establishing a career, buying your first home or starting a family.

That’s a whole lot of pressure right there.

And yet…many of us dissmiss the idea that stress affects us.

Maybe we think it’s a kind of weakness.

To ignore stress is a mistake, it can be bad for your general health – and bad for your back.

According to

“Muscle tension is typically caused by the physiological effects of stress and can lead to episodes of back pain”

Dr. William Deardorff explores other mechanisms for stress related back pain here.

Is stress causing you back pain at a young age?


Of course, it’s not possible to remove stress from your life.

It’s a good idea, though, to figure out how stress figures in your back problems:

  1. Recognise your own reactions to the stressors you face, (e.g. does your back feel more tense after a tough day at work)
  2. Decide whether this is a significant problem for you and, if so
  3. Take steps to minimise stressors, and
  4. Develop strategies that help you to manage your stress reactions
For Hugh, this meant a major overhaul of his work and his life:

“I set up an auto-responder on my email account and stopped trying to reply to every single thing. I spent less time staring at my computer and more time with family, more time taking pictures and breathing deeply.”

Hobbies and activities are commonly recommended as stress-busters. Particularly exercise.

Often the very same methods that focus on relaxed posture, also help dissipate emotional tension and stress.

Allison credits yoga practice with helping her to find peace and clarity, where previously there had been stress and anxiety.

It’s no coincidence that her physical health improved in conjunction with her improved emotional state.


These are the accounts of three fit, active people who suffered with back pain at a young age.

They are very different people and each found their own way to reach the goal.

Despite these differences, there are some common threads in their success stories. Themes that come out time and again when people talk about how they finally beat back pain.


Most important is how you think about the problem. 

  • Pain does not ususally equal significant damage
  • Decide to take control –  find the best way for you then make it happen
  • Keep an open mind and be ready to make changes
  • Exercise is good
  • Review your training style and consider other options – think relaxation and posture
  • Don’t ignore stress




Thanks for listening to the Back Pain Liberation Podcast (and reading the blog).

Don’t forget to rate, review and share!

Do you have back pain at young age? How old were you when it started? What was going on in your life then?

Maybe you had back problems when you were younger but figured out a way to get better. What worked for you?

Add you comments below. This is how to help each other make sense of it.

All the best




Music courtesy: Jahzzar

Image Credits: picjumbo, Rojan Maharjan on Unsplash

1always seek medical advice

2disc herniation is also found in people who never suffer back pain!

This website is for your information only. Consult your own doctor for medical advice.



  1. I’m 20 and I slouch often. Now I’m getting lower back pain. My doctor says I should exercise more but I don’t feel difference from swimming or gym. Thinking of trying a yoga class.

    • Hi Elyssa! We are made to move so training is essential to stay healthy. The best training styles for back problems also work on posture and relaxation. A good Yoga class should include these elements. Hope it works out for you.


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Music courtesy: Jahzzar

Image Credits: picjumbo Rojan Maharjan on Unsplash

1always seek medical advice

2disc herniation is also found in people who never suffer back pain!

This website is for your information only. Consult your own doctor for medical advice.

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