Back Health Podcast: One Year In Covering All Things Back Health

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How time flies! It has now been a year since we started the Back In Shape Podcast, 52 episodes, available across multiple platforms, 52 full length videos and 2000 to 5000 word articles on everything from sciatica and herniated discs, to lower back surgery and cycling, we’ve covered a lot!

In today’s milestone episode, we thought we’d take a look at the motivation behind the podcast and how we have been working to take an active step over the past year to help quell the confusion that so many have around their back health. In an era where people like to complain and criticise, we have chosen to do the doing, and devote ourselves to what has amounted to a significant commitment, every week. 

So let’s talk about why there is so much confusion around how to resolve lower back pain & sciatica online.

Social media & the internet for your back health & rehabilitation

Firstly, there are numerous drawbacks with social media and the internet, however, it is undeniable that there is a significant positive impact that it has had for all of us. Nowadays we have the ability to draw on the experience of people from across the world, not just our local community. We have the ability to share our ideas and experience with a wider and wider audience and where the intentions are pure, help more people than ever before. However with this explosion in the sheer volume of information we have at our fingertips, we perhaps have not evolved at quite the same pace to be able to filter and process the data coming in. As a result we have gradually adopted filtering mechanisms and replaced patience with impulsiveness. 

Being both viewers and creators, it is enlightening for us to see both sides of the coin. On the one hand impatience leads us to quickly filter headlines and titles for what we “think” might fit what we’re looking for. Whilst knowing that often the most effective solutions are not easily distilled into an attractive headline.

Imagine for a moment two competing headlines: 

2 minute stretch that fixes your sciatica without going to the doctor.

And…

Fix your sciatica slowly with a consistent approach that will entail relapses along the way and a need to explore how your body works, inefficiencies in your lifestyle that are contributing…

You get the idea. 

As the space has become congested and our attention limited, playing to this impatience has contributed to the confusion. Those producing content have to do so in the competitive marketplace which means competing with others who’re trying to do the same. Resulting in the production of shorter and shorter videos that try to address an ever smaller aspect of the problem. We even found ourselves being drawn into the production of these shorter video topics that simply don’t give a full enough answer to help someone in the best possible way. 

Short videos on back pain with a purpose

To try to produce information that was valuable but easily discoverable and digestible, we set about producing shorter videos on “aspects of back health”, drawing on extensive experience and trying to distil the message down to a core concept and cover that part of the issue. This could have been a stretch, an exercise, or a principle.

To date we’ve produced well over 800 Youtube videos on the various aspects of back pain, back health and the many aspects around this topic, typically ranging from 2-3 minutes long to 15 minutes. By and large these videos are well received and judging by the comments, they were helpful, but they were lacking the detail, often raising questions such as: now what? What about…? These shorter videos were great but they were missing something more, especially when some of the central principles we cover and teach, run so counter to many other videos on back pain and sciatica, for example, the knee hugs and child’s pose stretches.

Why our approach to back pain is so different

For all of us, no matter what the subject, our views are shaped by our experience. We talk about this in more detail in the Back In Shape Backstory. In short, the vast majority of physiotherapists and osteopaths, unfortunately, chiropractors also seem to be moving into this category too, work primarily with physical examination only. They have very little exposure to imaging these days. Although they may see the occasional MRI report, it is not a regular occurrence, and not with any significant volume. On the other hand, the experience we’ve gathered over the years has been one which is based on patients with lower back injuries, who are both physically examined, and examined on imaging. 

If you haven’t had the experience you can’t have the experience. The views and approaches of the average practitioner are based on physical examination only, on muscles being tight and needing stretching, your lower back needing to be stretched out more, your pelvis needing to be tucked, and so on.  

The ugly side of producing back pain videos online

Although the majority of the comments on our videos are positive, from people all over the world, thanking us, asking questions and so on, there is an underside, a troll side to the internet that we all must contend with. One of the sad things about this is when it is healthcare professionals, at one point even numerous staff from the same clinic! 

Every so often we do get other practitioners commenting on our videos, picking holes in a small aspect of a video and voluntarily ignoring context. As much as it should be ignored, it is always a deflating moment, especially when the comments are so mis-informed. Misinformed as to the  context of the video or point, as well as misinformed as to their own experience. Brazen comments like “there is no research on this or that ” as if they have read “all the research” out there. Of course there will be aspects of a 60 second to 5minute video that could do with more explanation, especially on a topic such as back pain. 

It does beg the question of how qualified these individuals really are, because having such time to devote to such a negative practice would strongly indicate an absence of clinical practice. In our experience, when you have a busy clinical practice or community that you have to look after, you certainly do not have the time to seek out other professionals online and post such provocative negativity. 

Often these are the same people who have not spent a moment producing any content of substance either, let alone being the other side of the camera.

Producing the Back In Shape Podcast

In light of the holes that remain in shorter videos, as helpful as they can be, we thought the podcast format, deep diving into topics in detail would be a necessary task. So we set about producing a 1,000 word deep dive article into any given topic each week. This very quickly turned into 1,500 words, 2,000 and more, with some of the topics reaching 5,000 words in depth trying to cover all aspects of the issue.

Every week for over a year now, we have planned out and produced a detailed publication on one topic or other pertaining to back pain, trying to cover all the questions and exploration points that each topic could have, drawing on our experience both clinically and more recently online with members of The Back In Shape Program. These detailed articles then make up the basis for the 15-30 minute podcast, which is shot in one take. 

Why do we say this? Because of what is around the corner.

With the explosion of AI (artificial intelligence), and tools like Chat GPT, it is likely that you’ll see more and more content out there of people using these services to write scripts for their videos. Such articles are difficult for the average person to identify, but talking for 20-30 minutes on a topic without cuts, edits and the like is a surefire way to demonstrate you are the creator of your own material. 

We mention this only as a warning, as over the coming years do not be surprised to see such content being used in all manner of areas. For a handbag or a bicycle there is no issue with using such tools to generate articles, but when it comes to producing real content around experience with back pain and sciatica, you cannot replace the real thing, and if you try, it’s easy to spot.

The Back In Shape Podcast: filling in the gaps

Thankfully the podcast has provided us with the opportunity to explore topics in detail and fill in the gaps for those of you who need help with your back pain. Be you members of the program or subscribers to the podcast, or if you’re here for the first time.

We now have the ability to put out shorter videos that are backed up by longer podcasts that cover all the questions immediately. You might come across shorter snippets of our podcast that have caught your attention, but now, you have a book’s worth of detail on everything you need to support you in your understanding of back pain as well as the background on why we teach what we do. Whether you’re viewing on our Podcast page, the YouTube Channel or listening on one of the podcast platforms like Spotify or Apple Podcasts

The Back In Shape Podcast: moving forward

We thought we would close out this episode with a thank you, to all our members and those of you who’ve watched, commented or shared one of our podcast episodes. The feedback on these has been great and it is clear that they’re helpful for you all. Please know, your comments and feedback guides us, the podcast is for you. So if you do have specific requests, they’re always welcome in the comments! It has been great fun this past year working on it and as hard as it sometimes is, it really has been worth it. We look forward to continuing to race towards episode 100 and beyond! 

Thank you!

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