Back pain often occurs as a result of primarily sitting to work, especially when working from home. It gets worse when the pain doesn’t go away and becomes chronic. This is when a lot of people fall into a kind of paralysis and are afraid to move in order to avoid provoking more pain. Chiropractor Dr. Werner Michael Heller tells us why that’s actually the wrong way to treat back pain, and how trampoline exercise can bring you back to enjoying movement.
What can you tell us about the profession of being a chiropractor?
Dr. Heller: „Basically, chiropractics is an art of healing that is built on three pillars: manual technique, science, and chiropractic philosophy, which states that our bodies have impressive self-healing capabilities that work for us 24/7. Chiropractors want to support the body in this self-healing process in the best possible way. They usually don’t prescribe medication, but treat patients with specific manual techniques and involve patients as actively as possible in their healing process.“
When people hear “chiropractor”, most of them tend to think of cracking people’s backs or something similar. Does the human back play such an important role in your work?
Dr. Heller: „Due to our upright gait, which is specific to humans, our back has a central function in our bodies, yes. But ultimately, all of our joints are important, because they all play a common role. A foot injury could be causing lumbar spine problems or, conversely, back problems could be causing foot pain. Our musculoskeletal system is more than a machine, and it’s very complex; everything interacts with each other: bones, muscles, organs and even our emotions.“
How did you start working with the bellicon at your clinic?
Dr. Heller: „I had already had a trampoline in my practice for many years. However, it was sort of collecting dust, because the squeaking annoyed me every time it was used, and I didn’t find it particularly pleasant to bounce on in general. It was a patient’s wife who told me about the bellicon trampoline. Thanks to her, I looked into it and then went to check out some models at the company. To this day, I still think the trampoline is very functional and valuable because of its soft movements. A forefather of chiropractics once said: “Life is an expression of tone” and this tone, this harmonious flow that’s good for the body, is what I’m rediscovering with the bellicon trampoline.“
How do you link chiropractics with the bellicon trampoline?
Dr. Heller: „I set up an exercise room with the bellicon mini-trampoline a while ago. The instructor there, who works with me, focuses on toning, relaxation and balancing exercises. I motivate my patients to try out the bellicon trampoline and, if they’re interested, to buy one for themselves. To get you started, I’m happy to show you various walking positions and provide you with exercise instructions that were developed together with bellicon as part of a pilot study. I personally use the bellicon to relax after my workday.“
What effect does exercise have on deep muscles and primary (autochthonous) muscles?
Dr. Heller: „The autochthonous musculature has a special function: unlike “normal movement muscles”, these core muscles are designed to maintain sustained contractions. They don’t get stronger by lifting weights, but rather by stretching and relaxing. Often, as people move less and less during their daily lives, they experience increased, painful tension. This can be specifically addressed with the bellicon trampoline. Furthermore, I think that the way the mini-trampoline exercise works results in muscle synchronization. The light bouncing, especially the moments of weightlessness, can de-stress (relax) the body. In addition to experiencing rapid relaxation, bouncing on the bellicon calms you down and gives you a feeling of joy or serenity. This is the best part of this exercise device, in my opinion.“
We already conducted a joint study on the topic in 2016. Could you tell us more about the topic?
Dr. Heller: „Twenty-five participants from two clinics, all with chronic musculoskeletal problems, took part in the bellicon study. The exact nature of the problem, or its cause, was of secondary importance to us. We were interested in whether and how patients with chronic pain could improve their condition by exercising on the bellicon trampoline. It turned out that no objectively measurable changes had occurred with regard to posture and movement control. However, significant changes were noticeable when the standardized pain questionnaire (Bournemouth Questionnaire (BQ)) was evaluated. In particular, patterns involving exercise aversion, i.e., the fear of provoking further pain through exercise, decreased significantly, and the patients also felt significantly less restricted in their recreational and social behavior. So, we were able to answer yes to our question: by training on the bellicon, the patients were able to improve their overall condition.“
Would you say that exercise on the bellicon mini-trampoline is for everyone?
Dr. Heller: „I think so, in the sense that it opens your mind to more ideas. Children just enjoy the bouncing and its overall movement. Even competitive athletes can benefit from the training (muscle relaxing effect, balance training, etc.). In general, I think the bellicon trampoline is a great piece of equipment for people of all ages, regardless of whether or not they’re already suffering from the effects of loss of mobility.“
One last question. In short: what is the bellicon to you?
Dr. Heller: „The bellicon trampoline is a multifunctional piece of equipment that’s simple, user-friendly and easy on the joints, which is a pleasure to use. Its appeal lies in its simplicity of use and its gentleness.“