Workout of the Day

Fixing Back Pain By Switching Sides


I had a biomechanics professor who told us the story of the one simple change he made to help a client of his get out of chronic back and neck pain. She had been dealing with relentless back and neck issues and referral nerve pain for some time, and had tried all the usual strategies to no avail. Physical therapy, chiropractic, stretching, the works. They bought her temporary relief, some more than others, but the pain and dysfunction always came back.

My professor recounted that when she enlisted his help, in addition to observing her move and running her through some range of motion tests, he asked her to walk him through her daily routines and the postures she held during these routines. How do you sit when you drive, how do you stand when you are making breakfast, what position do you sleep in, how do you sit at work, what actions do you frequently do throughout the day, etc. When she mentioned that, as part of her job, she spent a large part of her day answering the phone at her desk, it didn’t take long to find the culprit: she detailed that the phone was on the far left corner of the desk, and showed how she reached for it, then cocked her head to the side and pushed her shoulder up to pin the phone between her left shoulder and cheek so she could answer calls and still have free use of both hands.


“For the next week, I want you to move the phone to the right side of your desk and hold it on your right, and after a week or two, I want you to switch which side you answer on every day.”

And would you believe that was all it took to finally solve the mystery of the chronic back and neck issues? With a bit of time to heal, some properly applied strength exercises, and a change in egregious daily postures, they had gotten at the source of the problem and solved the seemingly unsolvable. (She also eventually got a headset to eliminate the need to crank her head to the side every time she had to answer the phone.)

While your issue may not be holding a phone to your shoulder for hours, it may not be far off. There’s a good chance the source of the problem lies in the daily and the mundane — the “I never would have thought that could affect my _________ so much.” Your body adapts to the way you sleep, eat, drive, walk, breathe, stand, play, work, exercise, and more, for better or worse, whether you’re deliberate about it or not.

- PS


  • Max unbroken ring muscle-ups


  • With a 20 minute clock, complete as many rounds for quality of:

    • 10 arch to hollow swings on rings

    • 10 strict false grip pull-ups on rings

    • 10 strict toes to bar

    • 60s ring support hold