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CARVILLE: Address back pain, get back in the saddle

My last article was about the older guys with whom I play golf at the Nevada County Country Club. By older I mean 70s, 80s and a couple still playing great golf in their 90s.

Ninety-two year old Elby Hall out drives me and always wants to put money on the game… “Let’s put some skin in the game and play 4-ball!”

Well the references to those older guys still playing golf evidently stimulated many older readers of The Union to send me emails, mostly referencing back problems as the reasons they can’t play golf, tennis, swim or even just enjoy walking or general movement without back pain.



The shame is that many forms of back pain are related to musculature and posture. Believe it or not, your back pain could be relieved or perhaps eliminated by proper exercise. Not pills or surgery… just exercise. The noticeable side effect is that you also get stronger and feel better (not a bad side effect).

Simple strengthening of your core muscles (think stomach and back) could get you out on the golf course or tennis court again… or just be able to function without pain… get out of the chair or play with your great grandchild.




Structural causes of back pain

Of course, not all back pain is related to weak muscles. There are some very serious issues that confront us as we age. These need to be diagnosed and treated by a physician.

Ruptured discs (sometimes called herniated disc), discogenic back pain, spinal stenosis (the constriction of the spinal canal – mostly related to aging), spondylolisthesis (terrible pain when the vertebra become unstable and begin to “slip”), osteoporosis (back pain related to compression fractures due to weaken bones in the spine), and the list could go on. See your doctor if you have any of these issue.

The Exercise Solution

It almost seems too easy, right? Well it is easy. But don’t let your neighbor or your son-in-law prescribe exercises for you.

You need someone who understands musculature/structure as well as your doctor understands a specialty, internal medicine or surgery or whatever his/her specialty is.

There are two persons in this community for whom I have the highest respect in this area. One is Dr. Joel Richnak, M.D. who specializes in sports medicine. The other is more closely related – Mike Carville of the South Yuba Club. Dr. Richnak understands sports medicine and the structural back pain issues. Mike Carville is highly skilled with over 20 years of experience and study in soft tissue solutions for back pain. Each of these guys could save Medicare about $500,000 if you see them before you commit to anything radical (the knife).

These could be complicated topics, but don’t have to be. If you have back pain, don’t give up. See your doctor and get that medical opinion. Remember it is your body and therefore ultimately only your decision.

Take action

One of my favorite short books is called “Whatever it Takes – A Journey into the Heart of Human Achievement.” I decided to write this article after reading this quote from Norman Vincent Peale, “If you put everything off till you’re sure of it, you’ll get nothing done.”

Let’s do it! Elby is waiting for us on the first tee of the Nevada County Country Club to play 4-ball and take our money.

Phil Carville specializes in senior fitness. He is a co-owner of the South Yuba Club and can be contacted at philc@southyubaclub.com.


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