(Email subscribers may receive this twice -if so, my apologies! I accidentally hit “Publish” last night instead of “Draft” – ooooops! Lawd!)
I first hurt my low back in my mid-twenties, and had surgery on a ruptured disc in my early thirties. I didn’t know how to care for my back then, but I sure as danged learned so I’d never have to have surgery again, and I haven’t. Yay! I did my research and learned about the spine and its support sytem–knowledge really is power and creates understanding of how your body works, so that you can care for it/be mindful of it, strengthen it, ease its pains and discomforts. Learn what may be causing pain and work to alleviate it.
If your level of pain is severe, then for all gawd’s sake in heaven and on earth don’t ignore that–Lawd! If you are not sure if your pain is “normal aches and pains” then do not suffer and wonder, go have it checked. Pain is an indication something is amiss, even if only that you over-did your gardening/weekend sports/marathon-pie-eating contest that day. Of course, if you over-did something, you may expect to have some pain. Learn to listen to your body–it’s an old platitudish cliche-ishy statement, but one that stands.
The more we do to help ourselves naturally, the less we have to rely on some medicine that may make us feel yuckity–and, y’all, some type of aerobic exercise, strengthening, and stretching are wonderful ways to alleviate pain, or at least make it less irksomely ARGH!
When I became a personal trainer, I studied “body mechanics,” and as
well, I became a stickler for Form (see last Wednesday’s post on Form), and for not taking the body to such silly-arse extremes I see in the gym (and on some tv programs) that lead to injury and burn-out. While we should challenge ourselves and our bodies, pain should not be used as an indicator that we are doing something right–right? Riiigghht! I tol’ y’allses before, your gym grunts and screams and near-vomitus-stupidus-ickypoodicus (that’s Latin for “STOP IT, Fool!) just makes me want to bomp you upside your heads. Unless you are in some super-duper-stupendous-special training program/military/whatever-specialty, and have someone monitoring you who is uber-duber-trained–and I don’t mean some “looks in shape” dude/woman in the gym who tells you they know what they are doing and you end up in traction– then stop trying to go all out for nothing and then drop out because you injure and/or exhaust yourself.
I use these ThermaCares for my back. They do heat up nicely and warm my back area, which helps the circulation/blood flow to the area. This is another idea behind exercise–circulation/blood flow. In summer, I rarely use these warming pads, as they heat me up too much, but in winter they are heavenly because not only do they help my back pain, they keep me feeling warm and toasty.
You may feel as if you want to do nothing if you have back pain, but lawdy folkses, you have to move. You must strengthen and stretch, and that includes your core muscles (think of a band wrapped around your waist/back, your hips/pelvic floor, that is strengthened to help hold you in good posture and balance, that will keep you upright and strong into your olden golden years)–don’t just work the muscles that you think make you look good in a bathing suit/shirt-off-on-the-beach, but all of them, your entire body. (Many men tend to work only the muscles they can see in the mirror in their upper body; many women their thighs/butt/abs–work them all!).
Of course, as I always tell you: consult your physician before you begin an exercise/training/stretching program–especially if you have pain or weak areas. Listen To Personal Trainer Kat when she says Pain is NOT an indicator you have been “working out like a hot-damn house-a-fire,” but instead a sign you may be damaging muscle or something worse. People think they have to be sore to indicate they’ve “really worked out,” but I was so gratified to see new studies that prove what I have been saying for years–that soreness may be holding you back, not helping you. Of course, a little soreness is to be expected if you haven’t worked out in a while or try something new.
For your back, try some “reverse sit ups,” where you lie face down and lift your upper body, and/or your upper body and legs, just until you feel a tension in your back–I said TENSION not pain, y’allses. Lawdy be, why do we feel exercise has to hurt to be effective. Huhn.
Find time to rest. Sleep/rest is also important. How you sleep could affect your back. Experiment: if you lie on your back, put a pillow under your knees; and on your side you may find a pillow between your knees helps. Sleeping on your stomach is usually not recommended, but if you must, put a pillow under your lower abdominal/top of hip region. Your body will tell you if you messed up, oh yes it will–how? by your going OW OW UNGH UNGH OHHHHHH ERRGGH as you struggle to pull yourself of bed and across the room. Haw!
No matter which yoga poses I do, I always include child’s pose at the end. It is hard to feel anything but peace and serenity when folded into a facing-down fetal position. My eyes are hidden from the world, my body tucked tight, yet my spine is vulnerable to the sky and anyone who may come near me. It is at once a trusting pose, while a very private and protective one. It helps stretch out my back from my workout, opening up the spine. I breathe in and out, slowly and evenly. I stay that way until I can face the world again. Then I carefully curl up and sit into half-lotus pose, ardha padma-asana, bring my hands to prayer position, close my eyes for a moment. How can I feel anything but contentment, peace, and gratitude when in this beautiful pose? I cannot. And my back thanks me for it, too. Namaste.
(Note! >> Tomorrow, Thursday the 29th, I am the “author on parade” at Sharla Lovelace’s blog, where the give-away that day is a signed copy of the soon-to-be-released Family Graces. Stop by! Sharla writes: “A random commenter will be chosen each day to win fabulous books.”).