|Oh My Aching Back
By Michael Dorausch, D.C.
The other day I hurt my back. Some people find it amusing that a chiropractor could hurt their back and let me assure you, it does happen. It was about twenty past six in the morning and I was in my regular Monday morning step class. We were doing lunges off of the step to the rhythm of some dance song. I wasn't satisfied just doing ordinary lunges, no; I had to do lunges with a twist. Now this is something I would not recommend to anyone which is one reason why I am writing this today.
Twist - lunge - twist - lunge - twist - pop. It wasn't really a loud audible and thinking back I probably felt it more than I heard it. Are you familiar with the experience? Both the feeling and the sound came from the base of my spine and I felt an immediate weakness in the area of my sacrum and low back. It didn't stop me from completing my sets though. In fact, I continued on, as the feeling in my spine became a dull throb. I finished up my work out with about 15 minutes of abs (not as intense as I normally would) and then I jogged the two miles home from the gym.
By the time I had made it home my back was really hot and beginning to stiffen up. I had spent the past half an hour thinking about that one dumb move that I made while doing those lunges that caused all my pain. That's the second reason I am writing this.
You see, day in and day out people come into the office (often the new ones) and say, "Doc, I was just bending to pick up a piece of paper. How come my back when out?" I will always ask them about any activities they may have done that day and just as importantly, I ask them about their activities during the past several days. As far back as I can remember, I cannot recall a single case in where the piece of paper was the cause of the problem.
Living in a beach community, we attract many weekend (and weekday) workout warriors. The bike path by our Chiropractic office goes for miles in several directions. It is not uncommon for someone to remember that they went for a 16 mile bike ride the day before the piece of paper incident and they had not been on a bike ride of such a distance in nearly two months.
So I was getting a lesson I suppose, because I had somehow forgotten about all the other activities that led up to my injury. Let's go back seven days to see what else I did. The weather around here has really been getting nice and the office is only two miles from my house so on Monday morning I decided that instead of driving I would ride my bike to the office for the next week. I didn't think of this as exercise as much as I did a way to clear my head in the morning and just as important to clear my head on the way home from the office each evening. It's amazing what a 15 minute ride on a classic Schwinn cruiser can do for your mental state.
Monday mornings I run, so I ran to the gym which is about two miles, did a one-hour step class, and ran back home, got ready to go to the office, and jumped on my bike for the ride to the office. This was the first time on my bicycle since probably December of last year so it had certainly been more than two months in my case. I remember thinking when I arrived at the office that even the casual bike ride can be a workout if you haven't done it in some time. I followed this routine each day of running to the gym, working out for about an hour, running back home, riding my bike to the office, and then riding back home. By Thursday I definitely felt some additional stress on my body especially in the lower sacral region. I remember thinking to myself though that I felt strong and my back would be fine as long as I paid attention to form.
The cycling wasn't the only thing that I did different during the week. With all this HIPAA stuff going on, I was motivated to rearrange the front office area. We have a new seven foot high locking steel file cabinet that I decided on Sunday would be better on the other side of the room. Of course I had to first move our other file cabinet which is only five feet high and full of files so I had to move that as well. I could've waited till Monday when someone was there to help me but I felt good because I had taken Saturday off and had plenty of energy. I huffed and puffed until I got everything just where I wanted it. Looking back on the week this was probably the one activity that I should've had assistance with. But haven't you done this? I know people in our office have because when I ask what else they did besides pick up that piece of paper I often hear about the rearrangement of living room furniture, the cleaning of the garage, the detailing of the family cars, along with the 16 mile bike ride.
So all of these activities were involved and played a role in my experience Monday morning. It was not just the lunges; it was a combination of putting physical stress on my body that at some point reached a threshold resulting in subluxation (a blown fuse in the circuitry).
I got adjusted Monday morning after about two hours of seeing patients (I was really sore and stiff now). I also got adjusted later that afternoon. Not because it hurt, but because my body had been adapting to the new posture that it had been experiencing since the morning and I was again out of alignment. I skipped Tuesday morning and Wednesday morning at the gym but was back in the office and got adjusted again on Wednesday (I also rode my bike). Thursday I was back in the gym, back to the running, and in the office. I can still feel something in my low back however I know that I'm healing well and my body has responded well to the adjustments I've had this week.
Throughout the week I had no ice, no Tylenol, or Advil, aspirin or any other medication. You may be thinking that I could not have hurt my back that bad if I was able to continue on activities or not require any therapies. My thoughts on that are that it could have been quite bad had it not been for several things. One, I receive Chiropractic care on a regular basis regardless of symptoms. It has been my personal experience that regular Chiropractic care helps dramatically reduce the incidence and length of injury if and when it does occur. I also run and average of 15 miles per week and would consider myself in good health which helps my body respond and adapt to outside influences. However, sometimes we still overdo it.
Had I not been receiving Chiropractic care along with the combination of regular strenuous exercise, it is my opinion and experience that this injury may have been far more severe and would have possibly lingered on for quite some time. I have found that those receiving regular chiropractic care along with regular strenuous exercise respond far better to injury and illness than those that are lacking one or both activities in their lives.
So the next time you're picking up that piece of paper and your back goes out, think back on the daily activities and what you're doing to either prevent or create such injuries in the first place. As Dr. B.J. Palmer would say... "Chiropractic: Premiums Small - Dividends Large"
Best of health to you and yours.