7 Surprising Back Pain Mistakes

hands on lower back pain

How many of these mistakes are keeping your back in pain?

By Jesse Cannone

In working with tens of thousands of clients over the years at the Healthy Back Institute®, we have found there are a number of common mistakes people make in trying to find relief from back pain.

I would like you to read all about 7 mistakes I have identified and consider which of these mistakes you are making and how they relate to you and the way you have been treating your back pain.

Here are all seven of these back pain mistakes — in video, audio and article format. Take your pick!

Click play to hear the full back pain & sciatica teleseminar

Download the teleseminar MP3 here

Mistake #1: Continuing to do what doesn’t work

Why would anyone keep going to a health care professional for months and months without seeing any improvement? Beats me. But before coming to us, one of our clients actually went through 70 treatments with a chiropractor – and got no relief at all.

Our advisory panel suggests that you don’t go beyond a three-month period without improvement before considering making a change. It’s not the number of treatments as much as it is the need to see steady gains.

At the very least, you should insist on getting a monthly evaluation of your progress. You need to be clear that there is a plan of care, and that a proper diagnosis has been made.

Mistake #2: Not dealing with pain the first time

Many people will experience back pain that lasts a few days and then they forget about it when the pain disappears, rather than making the effort to identify and address the cause of the pain.

Here’s an example. About 10 years ago, my mother had her first bout of back pain. She had back spasms for a few days, then the pain went away and she went on with her life. Two years later, it came back – much worse than before. It got so bad she couldn’t work. If she had dealt with it in the beginning, I doubt that it would have come back. Even if it had, it wouldn’t have been nearly as bad.

When you have a fall or some other accident, it’s easy to figure out why your back hurts. But in most cases, your back pain could be caused by any number of things. You need to know what conditions are developing in your body, and more important, what is causing those conditions to develop in the first place.

Mistake #3: Thinking you’re too fit to have back pain

You may eat right, exercise regularly, and be in good health, but that doesn’t mean you can’t experience back pain. Having been a personal trainer for many years, I’ve seen lots of people in excellent shape who suddenly found themselves with lower back trouble.

two runners

Those in “good shape” may be more likely to get back pain

The reality is that people who exercise frequently are just as likely – if not more so – to develop back pain. Certain groups of athletes – runners, cyclists, swimmers, dancers, gymnasts, bodybuilders – are prime candidates for back problems.

Cyclists, for example, almost without exception have serious muscle imbalances in the lower body – primarily their quads, hamstrings, hip flexors, and glutes. This is because the constant repetitive motion of peddling a bicycle overworks one set of muscles while underworking other muscles.

The same thing can happen to non-athletes. Even if you don’t do any of the above-mentioned activities, your workout program can create muscle imbalances if you’re concentrating too heavily on certain areas of your body and neglecting others. Fit or not you will be in trouble.

Mistake #4: Treating only the symptoms

The majority of the treatments people receive for back pain – cortisone shots, anti-inflammatory drugs, ultrasound, electrical stimulation, and the like – address only the symptoms. You must understand that pain is merely a signal that something is wrong. Even if you get rid of the pain, the problem is still going to be there.

Here’s an illustration: Suppose the oil light comes on in your car. You could put a piece of duct tape over the light – which would eliminate the aggravation. But it’s not going to solve the problem. Your engine is still going to need attention. And it’s only a matter of time before it will shut down unless you do something. It’s the same with pain.

You’re hurting because your body is going through abnormal changes… and those changes are causing abnormal postural conditions… and those abnormal postural conditions are causing your muscles, joints and ligaments to function under increased stress and strain until they eventually fail causing a painful condition like a herniated disc.

Mistake #5: Not understanding that back pain is a process

Most of the time, back pain and sciatica take weeks, months, or even years to develop. But you’re not aware that there’s a problem until something starts to hurt. Rarely is back pain the result of a one-time incident. Barring an injury, it just doesn’t happen overnight.

Consider this story from my business partner, Steve Hefferon.

When his child was learning to walk, he put up a baby gate at the foot of the stairs. Being lazy, Steve would lift his leg over the gate rather than opening it and walking through. He did this more than 30 times a day. One afternoon, he was cutting the grass and felt a radiating pain in his butt. The next time he cut the grass, the same thing happened. He eventually figured out that the awkward movement of stepping over the gate time after time had created a muscle imbalance. Driving to work, sitting at a desk, or performing some other seemingly routine activity can do the same thing.

By now you’re probably wondering: What exactly is a muscle imbalance?

Try this analogy: You’re driving your car down the road and your front end is out of alignment. This is going to cause your tires to wear unevenly. This can also happen to your muscles.

To take this a bit further, let’s do something we call the Glute Squeeze Test (Do not attempt this if you’ve had a total hip replacement).

Stand up and put your heels together, with your toes pointing out – like a duck (at least at a 90 degree angle). Now, clench your butt muscles. Reach back and feel how tight they are. Relax. Next, turn your toes inward as far as you can. Now, with your toes touching, try to tighten your butt muscles. You can’t tighten them nearly as much, can you?

The reason is that your muscles are in an unfamiliar position – they’re simply not used to working this way, so they’re not as strong. This should give you some idea of what a muscle imbalance is like.

If you correct the imbalance, the condition that’s causing the pain will go away. The good news is that it’s easy to find out where these muscle imbalances and postural dysfunctions are on your own body. In 30 minutes or less you can find them if you know what to look for.

Once you know where these imbalances are, you can work toward correcting them by doing a combination of targeted exercises, stretches, and self treatments specifically designed for your condition. Another important thing to keep in mind: X-rays, MRIs, and CT (cat) scans do not reveal muscle imbalances or postural imbalances…

Mistake #6: The “I’ve Tried Everything” Syndrome

chiropractic adjustment

Insist on a complete head-to-toe assessment before treatment

You tell yourself that there’s nothing out there you don’t already know about, that surgery is the only option left, or – even worse – that you’ll just have to learn to live with the pain.

I can almost guarantee you that you haven’t tried a head-to-toe assessment, which is absolutely essential for identifying your muscle imbalances. I’d be willing to bet that your doctor, chiropractor, or physical therapist hasn’t done them.

I’ve worked with a lot of chiropractors, so I have a pretty good idea how most of them operate. Maybe 10 to 15 percent of them will do a head-to-toe assessment. The rest do a single manipulation – and nothing else. This will probably work for a while. But then you’re going to find yourself having to go back three to four times a week – until the insurance runs out.

Mistake #7: Not taking control

No one knows your body as well as you do, and nobody cares about your health as much as you do. Even if you’re working with a great professional, you still need to educate yourself.

Unfortunately, most people don’t know much about how their own body works, let alone what actually causes back pain and how to get rid of it. Patients who are knowledgeable get better and faster results. Make the decision to be active in your own rehab.

Here’s what you need to do:

1. If what you’re doing isn’t working…STOP!
Whatever treatment you’re trying, you must see steady improvement. Otherwise, you need to make a change.

2. Deal with the problem NOW
Waiting will only make things worse.

3. Recognize that fit people have muscle imbalances, too
Athletes, in fact, may actually be at greater risk.

4. Treat the symptoms AND the cause
Getting rid of pain is not the way to long term relief.

5. Remember, it’s a process
Your condition didn’t happen overnight, and it’s not going to go away overnight.

6. Be open-minded and positive
If you try something new and believe it will work, then it just might. Negative thoughts guarantee failure.

7. Take control and take action
Don’t go to a doctor and sit there with your mouth shut. If they throw a word at you that you don’t understand – ask what it means.

In the end, the power is in your hands…

Next Up… Click Below to Instantly Download Our Special Report and…

Discover the #1 MOST EFFECTIVE Therapy We’ve Seen at the Healthy Back Institute® for Back or Sciatic Pain…

(It’s a $19.95 value but it’s yours FREE when you click the link above… no signup needed, instant download!)


Filed Under: Back Pain, Video
Written By:  Updated:
my avatar

Jesse Cannone, CFT, CPRS, MFT

Jesse is the co-founder and visionary CEO of The Healthy Back Institute®, the world-leading source of natural back pain solutions. His mission as a former back pain sufferer is to help others live pain free without surgery and pharmaceuticals.

Sign Up Now For LESS PAIN, MORE LIFE Our FREE E-Newsletter…

Kiss your pain goodbye when you sign up to receive our free, LIVE PAIN FREE email newsletter, which is always full of the latest and most powerful, pain relieving information from the world’s leading pain relief experts.

Sign Me Up!

We are 100% Anti-Spam Compliant

25 thoughts on “7 Surprising Back Pain Mistakes”

  1. Jorge says:

    Hi , i have a 17 year old who has lower back pain only on the left side – he has had this injury since Oct 2010 – 11 months now and it seems that its not going away. He is a soccer player and had not played for 8 months and then played in July this year. He then played a game in August and started feeling the pain again. He had 2 MRIs done one in Oct last year which showed that he had developed a stress fracture and one in Feb this year which made mention that indicates that the stress fractures in the posterior elements in the lower lumbar spine had resolved .
    Now that the pain has re occured and he has had numerous physio treatments i am starting to wonder why this has reoccured.
    I have not seen a chiropractor only a sports physician and orthapedic surgeon do you think that i should see a chiro .
    He has been given some exercises that he needs to do to strengthen the muscles in the area .
    Is there any advise that someone can give me to see if i can find a solution to this problem



  2. Gordon Humphreys says:

    I purchased the losethebackpain system at the end of May this year, after a particularly bad attack of lower back pain. Doing the exercises, combined with about eight visits to the osteopath and three series of prolotherapy injections seems to have kept the back pain away and eliminated the sciatica. What I learned from the Heathy back Institute is to try a number of solutions, be proactive and maintain a positive mind set. Although I was able to do a range of aerobic and weightbearing activities from early on, it took some time to shake off the sciatica. The fact that the exercise program led to gradual improvements, made me feel confident I would get there in the end. Thank you for your help and keep up the good work!



  3. Jesse Cannone says:

    JORGE: I would suggest staying as far away from the ortho as possible, unless he or she is one of the very few great ones who does not push surgery AND is familiar with all of the other treatment options that are more effective and carry less risk.

    A chiro might be helpful but same as above applies… you must find a great one, otherwise it may be a waste of time and money.

    Have you read my book, “The 7-Day Back Pain Cure”?

    If not, definitely start there.

  4. Jesse Cannone says:


    Thanks for sharing your experience… I’m sure others will find it helpful.

    Just as you mentioned, the key is trying many different treatments to find the right combination for you as there are always multiple causes and contributing factors.

    Thanks again for posting 🙂


  5. Margo says:

    So what kind of doctor do you see to do this assessment? None of the chiros I have seen have ever done this, physical therapy doesn’t do this and the orthopedic doc doesn’t do this. I have a personal trainer who has helped me more in 4 months than I have had in 10 years, but he doesn’t do this either. I have had left SI joint pain for many years. MRI shows nothing but I am telling you – the pain as I turn my body in certain directions, or while sitting and leaning either forward or backward at certain points, is like being hit with a cattle prod. It makes my hip tilt higher on one side thatn the other which I know throws off everything. I stretch I do abdominal exercises, I have a phenomenal chair at work.. So what do you do? Supplements haven’t helped, creams haven’t helped.. I really want to get this resolved once and for all.

    1. DonaR. Finnerty says:

      Dear Margo, You need to find a myofascial release therapist one who has been specifically taught the John Barnes method of bodywork and active release.( Many PT’s , OT’s and massage therapist do this kind of hands on work that over time along with your trainer you shall gradually feel the muscle balance that you want to achieve and be able to let go of the pain. Our fascial system holds onto old memories and along with the strain of life a lot of time our muscle imbalances are caused by stress stored particularly in the hip flexors illiacus and psoas are often the culpritis . Best regards and blessings , Dona

  6. tina says:

    can you please write an article on what bikers should do to avoid imbalances? which muscles to stretch and which ones need worked out seperately. ive been biking all summer and i’ve had to stop because my back is killing me.

  7. Michele says:

    I was wondering if your system would apply to people with herniated disks specifically (L4-5)? I got this injury through bodybuilding for a figure contest in 2009. I guess I am one of those skeptics that have tried everything from chiropractors, PT, drugs to yoga to core strengthening to stretching, heat, ice, rest, biofreeze, etc after years of researching/trying every technique there could be to help, I gave up hope. I think unlike some with back pain, I know why I have the pain and the way I see it, if the disk doesn’t get pulled back in, there is nothing that will make the pain go away. I would love to be proved wrong, but this is what I have found for the past 2 years. Would love your honest feedback if you have anything new to offer that may help my pain.

  8. Admin says:

    Hi Margo,

    Thank you for your comment and query. This is why we teach people how to do the assessments and work themselves, with our support.

    You may wish to look into further details about this
    and The Lose The Back Pain System:-


    There is also our book:-


    Thank you

  9. Admin says:

    Hi Michele,

    Thank you for your enquiry. I have sent you an e mail. please look for it.

    Thank you

    1. Robert Garel says:

      My L1 thru 5 are all degenerative and herniated plus I have a fused C2. After 4 surgeries, nerve ablations, stem cell and cortisone injections, chiropractors, reike, acupuncture, HBOT’s (that helped for awhile) PT, yoga, core strengthening, stretching, heat, ice, rest, biofreeze, anti-inflammatories, oxycodone and medical marijuana, I’ve given up hope. No screws or metal yet, but I was advised that if my last operation didn’t cure things, I would need more aggressive surgery. A recent MRI disclosed that bone spurs and nerves continue to grow and impinge on my spine and laminae. I have already ordered your book but would appreciate any additional insights you could provide for my particular situation.

  10. Admin says:

    Hi Tina,

    Thank you for your comment and suggestion. We will look into this.


  11. janet wyatt says:

    I don’t suffer from back pain but I know alot of people who do and I shall certainly share this site with them.
    It is a wonderful site as is your fb. Congratulations. I shall keep an eye on your progress with keen interest.

  12. Admin says:

    Hi Lauren,

    You may find it useful to get a copy of our back pain book The 7 Day Back Pain Cure. It has a lot of information regarding the back, treatment options and pain relief plus many other useful aspects for you to read and consider. We do hope you find it helpful.


    Also, I will be sending you an e-mail shortly, please look for it.

    Thank you
    Admin (THBI)

  13. Lauren Caplan says:

    I had a vertebroplasty a few years ago, which was non-invasive surgery, it helped immediately with no down-time. So that solved my intense pain and sciatica. But I still suffer from fibromyalgia occasionally because it’s all over my body, not just my back. I tried Lyrica and that has side effects. I take Soma 100mg twice a day and that does help with the intense pain that I’ve been experiencing. It’s a muscle relaxer and I get it free because I’m on SSDI , so my medical is covered. I have eliminated 11 pharm. drugs that I used to take and replaced them with organic supplements and eating/juicing twice a day (all organic foods). By living this way, drinking only spring water (6-8 glasses) per day, Organic supplements can get expensive, but i buy the ones tailor-made for me. Organic food is expensive too. I only can spend so much a month…I can’t pay for chiropractors, Chinese cupping or deep massage sessions. I barely have enough money to feed myself until the end of the month. So if there is a charge for anything you’re offering…I can’t pay it! It’s as simple as that! Lauren

  14. Craig says:


    Like a gentle said above. (Michele Posted September 15, 2011 at 7:57 am)

    I also have a herniated disks specifically (L4-5)
    Causing Siatica through my left leg. (Butt, hamstring, & tightness through the shin.
    I have tried Physio, swimming, streatching, HOT/ICE Packs, drugs (didnt do anything) with not much happening.
    The way i really get rid of any pain is laying down on my back.

    Would like to know if your system could or HOW it will work.
    I have been experiencing the pain for the past 5 – 6 weeks and would really love to get on top of it early before it gets any worst.

    Kind Regards
    Sydney Australia

  15. Craig says:

    Ps. I already have a copy of “The 7-day Back Pain Cure”

  16. Steven says:


    If you have the book, The 7 Day Back Pain Cure, I would encourage you to reread the section on muscle imbalances, as our Lose the Back Pain System was designed around Identifying and correcting muscle imbalances in order to give the body a chance to heal its self, That said, we know that you can try all of those other treatments but until you address your imbalances in your physical body they will not help you get you self where you want to be…

    If you are interested in our Lose the Back Pain System please call our helpful and friendly support staff
    1 800-216-4908, 24/7, 365 and they will be glad to you place your order and once you are a customer, you get to communicate direct with me about how to formulate your personal recovery plan…

    Steve Hefferon co-founder of the HBI

  17. Geri says:

    Hi. Amazing how back pain/ sciatica can be so incapacitating. I have been a nurse/midwife for 44 years and have developed back pain over the years probably from improper lifting and constant awkward positions helping patients in the course of my duties. Occupational health and safety do help but not practical at times. My health or patient comes first? These days women have increasing BMI’s and expect and depend full care.
    I have resorted to inversion therapy and it has helped alleviate the pain. Not having to take analgesia is a plus. A few minutes a day has enabled me to carry on working, which I love.
    Hope this helps someone else.

  18. Marion Towns says:

    I have degenerative intervertebral disc disease in L1/2,L4/5 and l3/4 with moderate reduction in disc height, small marginal bone spur formation and minor endplate sclerosis plus marked osteoarthritis of posterosuperior junction but no spondylolisthesis. This is causing severe sciatica pain in back and leg on sitting and lying down. I also have Rheumatoid arthritis in my wrists particularly. I have ordered your back pain book but am wondering if there is anything else I will need?
    Kind regards

  19. Steve says:

    Marion, Please let me out line the steps we suggest…

    1. Educate you self, by reading the Book “The 7 Day Back Pain Cure”, go back to our site and click on the treatments tab, as there are lots of article and videos that teach people techniques and skills that no Dr will tell you about… I also suggest our book “Arthritis Reversed” found on our products page.

    2. Be open to the idea of trying new techniques, going a different direction, and when you make a change, be willing and able to make adjustments along the way.

    3. That all said, step number on is to find what can help you control inflammation, is the root of all evil and healing can not start till you, control the Inflammation, we suggest, Systemic Enzymes like the ones in Heal n Soothe…

    4. Once you get control of the inflammation, then you can progress to using supplements intended to rebuild and repair, soft tissue.

    Hope that is a good start for you, please let me know if you have any questions after you read the books…

    Steve HBI- Staff

  20. Tom says:

    I just ordered your book but am wondering if my diagnosis will be covered in it. I have been diagnosed with Pars Defect, Spondylolisthesis of the L3-L4. My pain is in my lumbar but also radiates to my butt checks, left hip, and left theigh down to my knee. I am starting to do excercises which seem to be helping. It was also suggested that I try Turmeric, Devil Claw, and Boswellia, which I have ordered but not received yet. My Dr is a doctor who believes that surgery is the absolute last step, many things to try first. The pain has not gotten to a point where it changes my life. It’s more of just an annoyance right now. Some better days then others, mornings are the worst. I do lift weights 4 days a week, use and inversion table 7 days a week, and go to chiropractor 1 a month. Your thoughts? Thank you very much.

  21. steve says:


    The book address the issue at a root cause level and for that reason we do not always address every condition by name… Please listen to this audio for more details about our approach.



  22. peggy EATON says:

    when I am sweeping the floor or vacuum the floor my lower back hurts bad what can that be peggy

  23. Admin says:

    Hi Peggy,
    We would like to suggest you get a copy of our back pain book -The 7 Day Back Pain Cure. It has lots of information about the back, pain relief methods and treatment options you can consider. It has other useful information you will find helpful as well. Please read more about the book and its contents via the link below


    Thank you
    Admin (The Healthy Back Institute)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The reCAPTCHA verification period has expired. Please reload the page.