Using your intestine to increase your strength.

Odd title right?

To stop your brain from imploding, I will explain.

Many of us have lower back pain and for quite a few of us, that lower back pain means one of two things are either going to be the tough guy about it and train insane through the pain, or we are going to be  a little bit easier on ourselves, perhaps decreasing our weights, doing less sets, reps or exercises or avoiding the workout altogether until our back is feeling strong enough to cope. The upshot is, that perhaps we're not making the gains we want, because we feel we're not able to lift the weight we want.

And you are completely justified in taking it easy. After all, isn't pain ACTUALLY a signal that something is upset in the body? And maybe, just maybe we need to listen to that pain, redefine our training goals for a while  and fix whatever's going on so that we can get stronger and bigger in the long run?

Let's assume that you ARE fed up with your back pain, and you are fed up with not making any gains from one year to the next.  Enter, the intestine. Not all back pain is created equal, and this article is only focusing on one type of Idiopathic back pain, related to inflammation in the gut.


When we eat foods we are intolerant or allergic too, we create a good deal of inflammation in our intestine,  fired up by the immune system attacking whatever it is you just ate. We can also end up with inflammation due to  poor intestinal bacteria balance, and our long standing issues such as dysbiosis, colitis or inflammatory  conditions like Crohns Disease or Ulcerative Colitis. Stress can also affect our gut and put it into an inflammatory state.

Now, organs don't have very good pain receptors, so they get a helping hand by referring their pain to muscles. Often there are times we can have a long standing muscle pain issue, which may be, but not limited to, an organ  issue. It is commonly known, that the liver can very easily refer pain to the left hand side shoulder, and the heart refers down the right shoulder/arm.

When we have pain and inflammation, our body does whatever it can to protect and deal to the upset body part, in doing so it can shut down nerve signals to other areas. So in the case of abdominal inflammation, it is quite challenging to get deep core activation. This is common in women with endometriosis, we find poor core activation concurrent with the pain.

If we can't get good activation in the core, how can expect ourselves to lift heavy, or lift at least enough weight to attain our results without creating further injury or strain.
 If this sounds like you, then one thing you can do is to get your gut tested, whether it be for toxicity (such as candida), flora imbalances, food intolerances or inflammatory bowel conditions. Talk to naturopaths and integrated doctors about what testing might be suited for you. You may have to shop around.

Clean up the intestinal issues, retrain the core and let's get back to lifting heavy things!

Stacey Hancock
January 2013

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