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Transforming Back Pain by Getting Down On the Floor

The Pain and Stiffness Began

It all started when I felt a sort of ripping sensation in the middle of my back around the spine just below the shoulder blades.  I was bending over the put on my shoes when it happened.  

When I stood back up, it was OK and I went about my day, but from that time on, every time I bent over like that, especially when putting my shoes on, that ripping sensation was there.  

After some time, I just got used to it being there.  I was too lazy to find a solution at the time. 


The Pain and Stiffness Increased into Other Areas

I have enjoyed lifting heavy things for several years.  Heavy barbell deadlifts and barbell bench presses were things that I enjoyed doing every week.  I would get a little pain here and there, which I thought was minor.   However, sometimes I would push too hard and develop pain that would be with me for several months.  

Over time, I realized that my hips and back were very tight and sometimes painful.  It was also clear that if I kept doing what I was doing, they weren’t going to get better. 

Realizing Two Destructive Habits

I became aware of two destructive habits that were making my stiffness and pain worse:

1. I was lifting weights with the primary goal of satisfying my ego, aiming for a specific level of strength, rather than focusing on lifting for the sake of my overall health.

2. I was spending prolonged hours each day seated at a desk in front of a computer.

Eliminating these Two Destructive Habits

One day I mustered up the energy and determination to stop lifting heavy weights forever.  I let go of my attachment and addiction to heavy barbell deadlifts, barbell bench presses, and kettlebell goblet front squats. It was tough to do as I enjoyed the thrill of it and had made it a vital part of my identity.  

I replaced lifting heavy weights with bodyweight training which is just as challenging, maybe even more, but kinder to the body. 

I also decided to get rid of my work desk and chairs, which my amazing wife did with me so that I would have no choice but to sit on the floor.  Intuitively I knew that sitting on the floor, day after day, would gradually force my legs, hips, and back into flexibility and freedom over time.  

Tools for Transformation

To make the transition smooth, we bought two kotatsu, which are low tables with a small heater set on the underside of the table in the center.  These are used in the winter in Japan to keep the lower body warm. 

Once those arrived, we put both our chairs and our work desks in the trash. We were metaphorically “burning the boats behind us” as Cortes did when he arrived on the coast of Mexico.  We committed to our mission of getting down on the floor and staying there.    Our theme song was “Get Down On It” by Kool & the Gang. 

My wife, being the flexible pixie that she is, started…and ended here.  Bless her heart! 

I, the Stone Golem, started by sitting on 2 airex mats to prop my butt up like this.  The floor was too hard on my ankles, so I folded over a yoga mat to soften things up.  During this time, my knees were up high due to my tight hips.  

Over time, I was able to switch things up by sitting Seiza on two large yoga blocks like this. 


I tried to create a crescent shaped seat using yoga blocks like this.  

so that I could sit Burmese Style, which is the name of the sitting posture I am demonstrating in the photo below.

A Journey of Trial and Error

There was a lot of trial and error. My legs and butt kept falling asleep so I would need to change position about every 15-20 minutes.  

Many times during the first week, I seriously wanted my chair back.  I questioned if this discomfort was really worth it. 

I kept readjusting, trying different sitting positions, various strategies with the arex cushions, pillows and yoga blocks and even did “15-minutes of Yoga for the Hips Video Series” for the entire first month.  However, I didn’t feel any real progress.  

I continued through month 2 and found that I could sit for about 60 minutes using 2 airex pads in a Burmese posture without my legs falling asleep and without any discomfort.  

Month 3 came, and I graduated from the 2 airex mats to a slightly lower-profile crescent-shaped buckwheat mat and I could sit for 60 minutes without thinking about anything.  If you want to buy one, they are available HERE on Amazon for a great price.

It literally took me about 90 days to adjust to this new way of life. 

Has it Been Transformational?

Absolutely!  It’s been 5 months now and here are the undeniable changes:

    • My legs and lower back feel great.
    • There may be still a bit of tightness in my middle back, but the ripping sensation when bending over to put my shoes on is G-O-N-E.
    • I can sit in a Burmese position for 60-90 minutes without switching my legs or stretching.
    • All of my deskwork is done sitting in the burmese position. 
    • I went to a 5-Day Business Seminar and felt awkward and unnatural sitting in a chair all day. 
    • I have changed something in 90 days that potentially could have been debilitating 10+ years down the road if left as it is.  

Here's a Quick 2:22 Video Summary of the Journey

Are you UP for GETTING DOWN?

If you have hip or back pain, please take empowered action to heal it, or at least improve it, because you can.  

If someone you love has hip or back pain, please share this with them.

And reach out to me with any questions, comments or feedback.  I’d love to hear from you.

Yours in Transformation,