Although there are several publishing companies that want to publish my life story, I always said no due to the fact that I don’t want to be a public person. The reason that I now choose to write about my experience is partly because of what you do, Anders, as it is in line with my own thoughts, and partly because your discovery, in my eyes, is just amazing! As a trained firefighter (smoke diver), I have had a number of accidents, over 15 surgeries, and have been near death several times (I have for example had fusion surgery in almost all the vertebrae in my back and neck).
At the age of 24 I had my first herniated disc. I had the bad luck of breaking the main nerve that goes all the way to the right leg. For three days and three nights I sat with a pain worse than I had ever felt, before I had my surgery, and my pain threshold is unusually high. The surgery made it better for a while, but the leg unfortunately never really got ok.
One year after my first herniated disc, during my rehab, I had another disc herniation where the main nerve to my left leg was crushed (hmm, I should have played the lottery ? NOT).
“Pick a good wheelchair”
This time I could not even walk correctly, my legs got numb, and the pain was even worse than before. I then was sent to, what I was told was Sweden’s best orthopedic doctor and neurologist (unfortunately I don’t agree).
After examining my legs for approximately ten minutes, he declared coldly, in front of a group of medical students, that all I could do was to pick out a good wheelchair because the damage in my legs and my nerves were way too severe to ever get well again. Sure, I had almost no muscles left on my legs, and I was limping with my back curved like a 100-year-old, but his words didn’t just upset me. I got absolutely furious!
While trying to get up from the bed (I wasn’t fast) I told him I would throw him out the window if he didn’t leave the room before I got up. Lucky for him he was faster than me!
After his “verdict”, I had to figure it out myself. I realized that I had to find a doctor who would listen and understood that having pain 24/7 and cramps in my legs up to eight hours and only sleep for 2-3 hours per night wasn’t completely normal.
I took strong painkillers, muscle relaxing pills etc., but nothing helped. My posture was miserable and I walked like I had a lumbago.
After a while I found Strängnäs Ryggklinik (a spine and neck clinic) and the founder, Bo Nyström, who finally listened to my story. My back got better and the pain was reduced after a few more fusion surgeries. Even if I wasn’t in perfect condition, after years of surgeries, I felt that I was given a new chance for a good life.
Stubborn training gave results
Even if the pain was reduced and my life had improved and I could follow the training program that was set up for me, my muscles in the legs were fading away rather than getting stronger. I have been training my entire life—martial arts, weight lifting, running and lots more. I’m stubborn and love to train so I decided to rethink on how to do my leg exercises.
I tried my own theory with leg presses where only your legs do the work, and there is no pressure on the back. Instead of doing a lot of light weight repetitions as the program said, I did the exact opposite.
After warming up, I put all the weight I could manage to press 4-6 times in three repetitions. I started with 15kg, and for the first three months, I had to call friends to come and pick me up at the gym after practice because I couldn’t even get 50 meters. It’s only a 10 minute walk home but at that moment it was too long.
After working out five days per week during those three months, I eventually managed to get home by myself. Sure, I was limping, but I did it! I walked down to the gym, did my leg workout and walked the whole way home. Almost. The first week I had to crawl the last 200 meters. Did I say that I was stubborn ? My neighbors must have been wondering what I was up to, but I got home so I didn’t care.
After five months, I could walk without problems, both on the way there and back, and thanks to my workout, I had successfully increased my blood circulation!! The pain in my back and legs was still the same, but the change of quality in my life was immeasurable. One year after starting my own program, I went down to Strängnas on my motorcycle, and at the clinic they were amazed beyond words of my progress ?
Went to the gym with my mouth taped
During the entire time, I tried to get back to work or find a new job, but unfortunately, it always ended with a new surgery. After a number of surgeries and examinations, the specialist at Strängnäs Backrehab Clinic wrote a letter to Försäkringskassan (Swedish Social Insurance) that I was forbidden to go back to work; they said that exercising should be my job from now on.
I’m probably one of the few that have been forced to retire. I wasn’t happy about it, but after a few years I understood their position, as I realized that if I got just one more injury it could all be over. Since my nerves are so damaged, the signals don’t get through, and the consequence is that my blood doesn’t flow like it should. If I stop working out, my muscles will fade within a few months, especially in my left leg where the numbness, blood circulation and cramps are worse.
After getting fusion surgery in my neck a year ago, I also had pain and almost no blood circulation in my left arm. And then one day, I got a tip from a friend about Conscious Breathing. Since I’ve been around for a while, I’m a bit skeptical when I read success stories online. So with a healthy dose of skepticism I read Anders’ theories and what he and others had tried.
After reading about how breathing retraining can have a positive effect on the blood, I got really inspired to give it a try and see if it could improve my blood circulation even though my nervous system didn’t work the way it should.
I got The Power of Your Breath/Relaxator package, including the book, Relaxator, Sleep Tape and the 7-Step CBR Program to Better Breathing. I told Micke at Gumes Gym about my test and that for the following month I would do my exercises with my mouth taped so I would only be able to breathe through my nose.
The first week I did heavy lifting, both bench-press, back, shoulders, arms, legs and core. It was difficult to find the correct breathing rhythm, and after the first workout my breathing was labored as if I had run a half marathon.
The first week it was all about finding the right breathing rhythm, and even if it was really challenging, I managed to complete all my exercises without pauses and with my mouth taped the entire time, to my training friends amusement ?
From 2-3 hours of sleep to 5-6 hours per night
After working out I used the Relaxator and I kept my mouth taped at nighttime. The second night I taped my mouth I fell asleep quickly, and when I woke up I had slept for six hours without waking up a single time. And on top of it, I felt rested!
Because of the pain, I hadn’t slept for more than two to three hours per night in 15 years, so to say that I was surprised is really an understatement. At the time I didn’t give it much thought though, since my focus was on the gym tests. After the third night I woke up after five hours of sleep and started to realize that this wasn’t a coincidence, and during the entire test my sleep continued to be this good!
On day three it was time for the real test – legs exercises. Would I have to rip off the tape between the sets to get enough oxygen and was it possible to find a rhythm during such explosive training? I did my warm up set and then it was time for the legs. I thought I should faint, but refused to take off the tape and focused on calm, deep breaths through my nose and I did it! When I got home I continued to use the Relaxator.
The second week I had a major breakthrough, when I was able to breathe rhythmically. The resulting strength and recovery was surprising considering the explosive workout I was doing, where all power, oxygen and concentration that you can get is needed.
Before I started with my breathing retraining, I was stuck with headaches and pain all the way through my left arm and my hand, which made my grip miserable. Thanks to my improved breathing, I have increased the flood flow, and my left arm is on its way to become as strong as my healthy right arm.
My headaches are also gone, and the few times I have felt that the pain is on its way back, I have been able to stop it with nasal breathing. The absolute hardest thing you can put your body through, which is something you know if you’ve been working out for a while, is really heavy leg practice (in my case in a machine. With a left leg that I had to lift onto the machine, I started at 300kg.
When I had found the correct breathing rhythm, I could raise the bar, and after two weeks there wasn’t any more weights in the gym to put on. So I had to stop at the 500 kg that I did 3 X 8 reps without any problems! The first week I had difficulties getting enough oxygen between the sets, but after practicing and trying to find a good rhythm, I could push myself to the point where I’d nearly faint. And between the sets I was still able to stand up with a straight back and breathe through my nose, with a level of recovery that was/is unbelievable.
Several people at the gym were fascinated and shocked over my progress, and wanted to read my book and were interested in trying the same workout as me.
Increased blood flow could help many people with damaged nerves
Do you know Anders what this really means? That not only healthy people and elite athletes can improve, but also that you have found a method for the health care sector. It may not remove all the pain, but it can help people with nerve damages to get a realistic chance of being able to walk and move better, which in turn will increase the quality of life immensely.
In short, this can be incredibly useful and helpful for all the patients that are injured to heal faster and independent of the damage they have it will help get the blood to the area where it wasn’t possible before, which makes an enormous difference when it comes to everything from healing to be able to move better. Better blood flow is the foundation for healing and reduces the risks for embolism, cramps etc.
You too should start with breathing retraining
I can really recommend that you buy and read the book “The Power of Your Breath And to start taping your mouth at night with Sleep Tape as well. If you are worried about taping your mouth you can try for just a few minutes in the beginning, and then when you feel comfortable you can start sleeping with it. When I had the flu I woke up by myself and removed it, and when I got better I could use it normally again.
You should also get the Relaxator. I underestimated it in the beginning, but I have just recently discovered the difference between continuously using it to train my diaphragm, and not using it at all when being ill. When I started again after being sick I realized that is much more beneficial than I expected. I have to congratulate Anders on his great re-discovery of something that’s been used for thousands of years—nasal breathing, but as with a lot if things it tends to be forgotten, He makes it available in a smart and easy to use way, and yes I am writing this of free will without any money involved.
To the skeptic, I want to finish by saying – test it, measure it (yes, it is measurable) and decide for yourself. Remember, just because something is more advanced does not mean it works. Most advances are found in just simple solutions.