These active treatments require more effort than passive treatments such as chiropractic manipulation or massage therapy. Sure, manipulation or massage can play a short-term role by relaxing muscle tension, making it easier for you to move. But at the end of the day you've got to do some work, not just lie there and let someone else do it for you.
"The most important thing is showing people what to do for themselves," Liebenson said.
Poor hip flexibility can be another culprit of low back pain. If your hips don't move easily, you'll be inclined to bend at the waist, forcing the lower back to round outward and putting disks in jeopardy. Bad posture that rounds out the lower back can be another cause.
There is no magic-bullet exercise or one-size-fits-all solution here. Each back-pain sufferer must get "a thorough biomechanical examination to determine the chinks in their armor," Liebenson said.
I don't need the sloppy push-ups or painkillers anymore, but a variety of core strengthening exercises remain staples of my regimen. And that skiing cliff jump? I left a trail of skis, poles, gloves and goggles scattered to and fro.