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I don't think I ever thought of my back at all until I was in my late thirties. Until that time I blissfully ran and danced, carried and lifted, twisted and turned, believing I would be ambulatory till my dying day. Then one day as I was walking down to the local drug store to enjoy coffee and some chat with friends, I went to take a step and couldn't. I thought my hip would break if I made any attempt at moving my leg. That day I literally crawled home. I got into bed, with tears in my eyes and told my husband that my physical life as I had known it was over.
"Isn't it funny how one minute life can be such a struggle and the next minute you're just driving real fast,swerving back and forth across the road."
Panic! As I sat in bed, panic and fear filled my head. I made an appointment with a doctor. That was the day I found out that my leg was fine, but a nerve in my back, called sciatic nerve was being pinched. It is a very long nerve that runs from the middle of my back down to the tip of my toe. The doctor talked to me of traction and gave me a prescription for a drug that made me incredibly sick. Then a friend recommended an acupuncturist. This was as disastrous as the doctor, since the acupuncturist and I spoke different languages. We were unable to communicate and after an excessively painful session with him, we decided that my"lack of faith" was not conducive to any more sessions. Then I headed to a holistic clinic, where chiropractors manipulated my bones, applied heat and spoke to me of eternally expensive treatments. Perhaps due to one of the treatments or possibly due to time healing all wounds, I was able to walk again. I walked tentatively and fearfully, but at last I could walk.
"If I could be a bird, I think I'd be a penguin, because then I'd could walk around on two feet with a lot of other guys like me."
As I got back into the swing of things, everywhere I went I told people about my pain and suffering. I discovered that there were many "guys" just like me. Almost everyone I spoke to had a horror back story. After a few weeks of listening to people's back talk, I came to the conclusion that we humans were not really meant to walk erect. Our knuckles should be scraping the ground like some of our ancestors. I bumped into my friend Maria several months after my back problem struck. As we spoke of children, groceries lovers and friends, I cleverly segued into the "Story of My Back". "Maria," I said, "my back went out on me several months ago and I'll never be the same. Half of the life I thought I was going to have is over." Maria looked at me real seriously and told me that she was going to meetings with people who also had back problems and was le arning a lot about backs. As we talked,I discovered how all through my life I had been doing things wrong. I carried things wrong. I lifted things wrong. I got in and out of cars wrong. I got up from chairs wrong. I listened intently to what she had to say and I started changing my lifetime of bad habits that eventually led to my back going out.
"When I heard that trees grow a new "ring" for each year they live,I thought, we humans are kind of like that: We grow a new layer of skin each year, and after many years we are thick and unwieldy from all our layers of skin."
Fifteen years later, I started pumping iron. I found that weightlifting was very helpful to me and my back. I made friends with Laura, a woman who had been a competitive body builder and lifter. Laura was easing out of lifting to devote herself to her profession of chiropractor. She started, at my request, to train me not only to lift, but also she was training me to train others. Laura conscientiously taught me correct methods of lifting. She turned me on to anatomy and the muscular/skeletal system. In her office, she showed me a replica of the spine. This spine was the base of our bodies support. It could twist, bend and turn. It consisted of a vertebrae with some flexible pieces of bone called discs. Then there was the spinal cord, connecting the brain and the body. When I looked at the model of the spine from the side it appeared as an 'S' shaped curve,that helps absorb the every day shocks our backs endure. I learned about the muscles and ligaments that were attached to these bones. These muscles were prone to strains and spasms, stiffness and swelling. Some people had disc problems and some of us had excessive spinal curvature (kyphosis). Then their was the traditional aging problems of arthritis and bursitis. It became clear to me that nearly everyone at some time or another has a back problem.
"One thing vampire children need to be taught from early on is, don't run with a wooden stake."
I concluded that the family of humans needed to be better educated about backs. This education should begin from the moment we are toddlers and learn to stand and walk erect. Schools would be a real benefit, if back education was introduced into the grade school phy-ed curriculum. Here is some important information about back care. Learn it and pass it down to the next generation:
Since we humans are not sealed in a box and stored in a warehouse, a visit to your local gym will introduce you to lifting exercises that will help your back. The gym will be equipped with machines and free weights to help you strengthen those muscles needed for all the stress and strain our backs must endure. For strengthening the back muscles try some lat pull-downs and seated rows and one arm rows. Pull-ups can be done free form or on a gravitron machine that will support part of your weight. Just holding on to a bar and hanging there will decrease the tension in your back and do some alignment. Do some low back extensions, being sure not to hyperextend, especially if you suffer from low back problems. Develop muscles in chest and arms. Some barbell presses some dumbbell flies and cable pulls will strengthen your pecs (chest) and various f orms of barbell and dumbbell curls, such as concentrations, standing curls and 7-ups will build your biceps and some kickbacks and tricep cable pulls will build the triceps. Squats, Lunges, hamstring curls and quad extensions will build legs. Leg are an important part of a good back. You should lift with your legs-not your back. Stretching hamstrings will keep your back from tightening up.
"Higher beings from outer space may not want to tell us the secrets of life, because we're not ready. But maybe they'll change their tune after a little torture."
If your back does go out on you there are some specialists in the field that are worth their salt. Be cautious and knowledgeable. Some so-called specialists can do more harm than good. There are some good chiropractors. I recommend finding one who specializes in movement. Sports medical practitioners, physiatrists, massage therapists and yoga teachers are some other professionals who can be very helpful. Going to seminars and group discussions on backs can also be educational. My friend and chiropractor Laura, recommends icing for injuries when there is swelling and warmth from an inflammation. Icing is also good for traumatic injuries such as twists and sprains. If muscles spasm, apply direct pressure and use ice pack. For stiffness and minor aches moist heat will relax and relieve pain.
"Once when I was in Hawaii,on the island of Kauai, I met a mysterious old stranger. He said he was about to die and wanted to tell someone about the treasure. I said, 'Okay, as long as its not a long story. Some of us have a plane to catch, you know.' He started telling the story about the treasure and his life and all, and I thought: 'This story isn't too long.' But then he kept going and I started thinking,'Uh-oh this story is getting long.' But then, the story was over, and I said to myself: 'You know, the story wasn't too long after all.' I forgot what the story was about, but there was a good movie on the plane. It was a little long though."
My quotations are from a calendar one of my children gave me called Deep Thoughts by Jack Handy. I believe it is a compilation of many peoples input.
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