Yesterday something amazing happened—or didn’t happen, to be more precise. It got me thinking: What do we really mean when we say we want relief from back pain?
I’ve run into plenty of people who claim their back pain is under control. They usually caveat this claim with the disclaimer, “As long as I’m careful.” Which brings me to my epiphany-producing event. It involved yard work, my long-standing nemesis.
Specifically, I had to do major surgery on a large, dying 30-year-old citrus tree. About a third of the tree was dead, and those branches had to be removed before they infected the rest of the tree. Of course, the dead sections were in the hardest to reach areas, and I’m quite vertically challenged. Short person, long pole, thick branches, hinky saw blade, close quarters due to encroaching walls. It was a formula for pain.
Two hours later, I was done sawing. Then the handle on my broom broke, so I had to squat down and use it as a glorified scrub brush to clear the patio and get all the dust and twigs in the garbage can. Up, down. Rinse. Repeat. My shoulders were aching, my fingers were blistered, I was scratched and bleeding and had splinters in places I don’t want to mention.
But what I didn’t have was back pain. And that was amazing, as in the past I could always expect to get locked-down back pain just from weeding the yard. I found moving house easier than yard work. To date, that’s my biggest yardstick measure of progress: I have one of the uglier spines to ever see the inside of an MRI machine, but that doesn’t mean I have to get pain from activities that even people with beautiful spines might find painful. All I had to do was follow 3 simple steps.
Looking back, my first major measure of progress was being able to sit without pain. Then I advanced to running without pain. What activities do you want to do without back pain?