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I consider my self to be pretty healthy, and I spend quite a bit of time making sure my fitness level stays high. This includes weekly yoga, strenuous hiking, and weight training. But there’s one thing that’s truly kicked my butt over the years: chronic lower back pain. Due to numerous back injuries, hiking with a heavy backpack, and lack of a clear strategy for eliminating the cause of the pain, I’ve struggled with this problem far longer than I want to remember.

While yoga has helped, it’s a tricky balance between doing enough and doing too much, which can lead to injury (as it did with me). I’ve tried other approaches such as chiropractic and stretching, but never with lasting results. Most of the cures out there focus on eliminating the symptoms (pain), where as I wanted to eliminate the cause. Oh and by the way, doing crunches until your dizzy does not strengthen your core as so many are lead to believe.

Foundation Training

I recently discovered a book called “Foundation” (and accompanying DVD/video download) which outlined a program that claimed to reduce and even eliminate back pain. The basic idea is that back pain comes from weaknesses in the muscles of the posterior chain—the muscles that run along the entire back of the body from the shoulders down to the buttocks and hamstrings. By specifically focusing on this huge and powerful muscle chain, the body would learn to move in a healthier way, avoiding stress along the lower back, improving posture, and hence reducing and/or eliminating pain.

I had my doubts, but started the program at home 6 months ago hoping I might get lucky-I felt I deserved it after so many failed attempts. And my back has never felt better. I had my reservations at first, but stuck to the program as best I could, and it has done wonders for me. My back pain isn’t completely gone, but for all practical purposes is a non issue. The exercises can be intense at times, but the results speak for themselves.

My routine takes about 25–30 min to complete, and I do it about 3–4 times per week. Best of all I don’t need any special equipment or space, I can do the exercises anywhere. This is huge for me since I’m often traveling on a photo trip or teaching a workshop. You can also custom tailor the program based on your particular fitness level. I started as a beginner, and after a few months was doing the advanced routine.

So what does this have to do with landscape photography? If you hike to your photo locations with a heavy backpack, then I would say quite a bit. There’s nothing worse than back pain to dampen your mood and spirit when you want to get out into nature with your gear.With a stronger back, you’ll tackle difficult hikes with more confidence, and experience less fatigue which leads to more time in the field.


If you have any problems with back pain, or just want to strengthen your core, check out this book and program- the DVD is also great to make sure you’re doing the exercises correctly, and for motivation. It has really made a difference for me.

Foundation: Redefine Your Core, Conquer Back Pain, and Move with Confidence

Check out the companion website

PS- I am not an affiliate, and get no compensation for promotion – I just like to share stuff I think is truly valuable and has worked for me 🙂


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This Post Has 5 Comments

  1. i’m going to check it out. i thought you were going to say you bought an olympus OMD and lightened your photography load. i”m scheduled to have a epidural shot in my spine. i am just looking for relief, i’m in pain right now!!!


    1. Thanks for the comment Valerie – if only it were than simple 🙂 In fact that’s part of the problem – getting stronger gets to the root of the problem, whereas everything else is just a crutch that ultimately makes the core weaker. Best of luck with your back, hope you recover soon. And I do hope the Foundation training proves useful for you. If you ever have questions, just ask.


  2. Hi Rob, I actually found your site via the Foundation Training. I am a wanna-be photographer so I am excited to find you. Additionally, I have been doing the foundation training program for about a month with notable improvement after 18 months of low back pain and 6 months of sciatica. It’s such a relief to find something that offers relief. It’s still early but I’m encouraged. I love to be out and about doing outdoor activities including running, backpacking, and cycling. I love yoga as well and can totally relate on the difficulty finding the balance when you are suffering from ongoing back pain.

    1. Hi Juls, great to hear the Foundation training has been working for you – it has certainly been great for me, and I continue to practice it together with Yoga as well. Best of luck and hope your back troubles are a thing of the past. Any questions or other way I can help, please feel free to contact me directly.


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