Why You Have Back Pain When You Carry A Gun Daily…
And What To Do About It
Now, don’t get me wrong, sitting is a killer. Our bodies were made to move, and smart men know this. Nick’s a smart man. He’s also an armed man, like myself, and this plays a part in his back pain like it did mine.
See, it’s easy to identify pain from sitting because we know sitting is a killer. It’s also easy to identify the gun you carry pressing against your side. Both of these cause pressure and we know they cause pressure because we feel it.
We don’t identify something else, though. Something hidden in plain sight.
Something that causes pressure not only where your body meets your gun, but elsewhere on your body.
Here was my short answer to him.
The longer answer?
You’re in pain because you’re unbalanced.
Every single person who carries a gun all day is in pain. Every single person who carries a gun every day is imbalanced.
We know that the gun on our hip, or shoulder, or pocket, is going to cause pressure. Guns are heavy. Even little guns are heavy. You’re strapping on excess weight, literally strapping it onto your body. This is why they call it “getting strapped”.
Thing is, you strap it to one side of your body. Even if you try to counterbalance this with a spare magazine on the opposite side of your body, the weights aren’t equal. The load isn’t equally distributed on your frame.
This is like sitting on a thick wallet for years and years. You lean to one side, whether you notice it or not. One side of your body is heavier than the other. This leads to an imbalance, and the imbalance is going to cause pressure.
What’s worse? We haven’t even taken your belt or shoulder harness into account yet.
Your belt compounds your back pain.
You put your gun on your belt. Gravity causes the gun to drop. To account for this, you cinch your belt tighter. There’s no excess room between your belt, you, your gun, and your belt again.
Now that you’ve tightened your belt, gravity pulls against your gun and your belt stops it from dropping. The trade off? On the opposite side of your body from your gun, your belt puts pressure on your body.
If you carry your gun just behind the hip, at the 4 or 5 o’clock position, your belt will dig in at the 10 or 11 o’clock position. Check the front of your left hip and you might even see the impression of your waistband in your skin. Sitting makes the pressure on your opposite hip even worse.
What if you carry in the appendix position like my man Nick Hagood? You carry at the 1 or 2 o’clock position, and your belt will bite in at the 7 or 8 o’clock position.
He addresses this here:
Now, every body is different, so it may not be an exact 180 degree difference between your gun and your pressure point. It most likely is, but it might be elsewhere. How can you find the exact spot where you’re pressuring your body?
What can I do to stop being in pain?
You’ve got three options, and I recommend you do them all.
- Loosen Your Belt!!
- Switch up your carry location.
- Build your body.
Loosen Your Belt to Minimize Your Pain
As I told you above, your belt compounds the problem of pressure on your back. Knowing that, why cinch your belt as tightly as you can?
I get the logic behind wearing your belt tighter, because I did the same thing for years. At one point, I carried two full sized 1911 pistols inside my waistband at the same time. Why did I stop? Because my belt was too tight!
The name of the game is minimizing the pressure your gun and belt put on your body. Don’t think that your gun has to be fixed in one place as if it were an extension of your hip. It needs some room to move as you move.
If you carry inside the waistband, you need to loosen that belt. You should wear your belt (and your pants) as if you were one inch larger in the waist and hips than you are. If you normally wear 30″ waist, wear 32″ waist pants and tighten your belt as if you had a 32″ waist.
Switch Up Your Carry Location to Alleviate Your Pain
You likely dress differently during winter than summer. The people you’re trying to protect yourself from do too.
Heavy winter clothing can keep a hollow point bullet from expanding, rendering your self defense load far less effective. For this reason, I carry smaller calibers and fast expanding bullets in the summer and bigger bullets in the winter.
If my bullet might not expand, why wouldn’t I use a bigger bullet to begin with? Just makes good sense. It does, however, mean I’m carrying a bigger gun.
Bigger guns have bigger holsters, and both weigh more than my smaller summer carry. To mitigate the extra pressure, I carry the big gun in a different location on my body. Me, I like to carry my summer gun appendix carry and my winter gun behind the hip.
To the town of Agua Fria rode a stranger one fine day
Hardly spoke to folks around him, didn’t have too much to say,
No one dared to ask his business, no one dared to make a slip
The stranger there among them had a big iron on his hip,
Big iron on his hip”
– Big Iron, Marty Robbins, 1959
Build Your Body To Eliminate Pain
If your back hurts, then your back is weak. How can you guarantee that you fix your weak back? Easy as pie:
BUILD A STRONG BACK
The solution to a weak body is building a strong body, period.
Yes, you’re the one putting extra stress on that part of your body. Yes, your belt or harness is compounding the problem. This doesn’t change the fact that your body is telling you it can’t currently handle this extra stress.
The best possible solution is strengthening the body.
How? I’ll tell ya how. This information is courtesy of Alexander Juan Antonio Cortez.
Recommendations for Building Your Lower Back
No matter where you carry on the body, you need a strong lower back. Here’s Alexander’s advice on which exercises to perform.
— Alexander J.A Cortes (@AJA_Cortes) December 11, 2016
Things are a little harder on the shoulder holster man, because the harness for a shoulder holster puts pressure on your chest, upper back, shoulders, neck, and traps. The solution? Work every one of these areas if you want to comfortably carry in a shoulder rig.
Most men who carry don’t even go to the gym, so they avoid the shoulder holster because they’re uncomfortable. They’re uncomfortable precisely because they don’t go to the gym!
I’m not without sin myself. I don’t carry anything heavier than a S&W J Frame in a shoulder rig, because my left shoulder is weak. I was run over in 2004 and haven’t addressed my weak shoulder properly.
It isn’t that shoulder holsters are uncomfortable. It is 100% because I haven’t done the work necessary to make wearing them all day comfortable. Eventually, I’ll be able to wear a shoulder rig again.
How To Reduce Body Pain From Your EDC Firearm
Loosen your belt!!
Switch up your carry location.
Build your body.