I am so happy to report that I can workout again! You have no idea how freaked out I was when my back went out at the beginning of the year, and then again, and then again. So, I want to share with you what I did to heal my back and what I learned from it.
Chiropractic — I have an amazing chiropractor (that takes walk-ins.) The morning my back “gave out,” I was suddenly unable to stand up, walk, go up or down stairs, bend over, lift anything, dress myself, drive…basically anything…without excruciating pain, I ended up driving myself to his office to get adjusted. This time wasn’t a quick fix. I went a few times before I was better. Lesson: go early, go often.
Massage — Two weeks after the original “issue” I went to see Michelle. And then again 6 weeks later. She is amazing. More like a Doula than a masseuse. She said my back was really in bad shape, but not even in the place I was hurting. Everything was out of whack. And she was the one who started me thinking about what I realized was the root of the problem: my abs. More about that in a bit. Lesson: have a standing appointment.
Rest — This was the hardest part. I did absolutely no exercise for two weeks, then some easy yoga, then some online bootcamp-type workouts, then Jazzercise. I felt my back start to go out again and cooled it. Just walking and yoga. Then Jazzercise again and back pain again. All this time my weight was creeping up. So just yoga and walking for two weeks. Lesson: um, rest?
Yoga — I swear by yoga. I especially love the place I go and the instructors there. It’s incredibly humbling to not be able to do a class you once did. At first all I could do was the stretches my chiropractor suggested: child’s pose, cobra, and then really gentle stuff at home. When I went back to class, I had to really modify. But let me emphasis the absolute necessity of yoga. It’s where I learn about body alignment, protecting myself from injury and committing to caring for my body longterm. Lesson: make a lifetime commitment to some kind of yoga/stretching everyday.
Walking — I love walking. I love that I can walk. When you are in a lot of pain for a lot of days, walking is no longer the poor cousin to running. Walking is glorious! I recommend walking outside on a long flat trail in the sunshine. Fast or slow doesn’t matter. Talk to yourself or to The Big Guy. It heals the body, the mind and the spirit. Lesson: walking is a privilege denied to many.
Abs — If you have ever felt the muscles in the base of your spine quit on you, you may wonder what you did to cause it. People always ask, “How did you hurt your back, what did you do?” Nothing. It just happened. I’ve come to realize why. I neglected the muscles on the opposite side. The lower abs. My massage person suggested that I may still be feeling the effects of having a C-section. That area can’t be ignored. I’m working on building them back up and I try to always think about them, i.e. engage them, especially when loading the dishwasher and other tipping over movements. And coincidentally, my yoga class this week was all about awareness of those muscles. Lesson: if you make your back do all the work, it will eventually quit.
On March 5th I tried running (on the treadmill) for the first time in forever. Well, in two months. I did it for 10 minutes. I know, I’m impressed too. The next week I went back to Spin class and the following week, Jazzercise. And finally I was able to go back to my favorite level 2-3 yoga class. I have never been happier. Everyday I’m getting just a little bit fitter… and it feels amazing.