Movement is the best medicine for lower back pain
In my mid-twenties, I had what I disparagingly call my “farm accident.” I was tilling my tiny urban garden and one of the wheels fell off. Since I always struggled to start the darn thing, I figured I wouldn’t turn it off, but, prop it up with my one hip, grab the wheel and pop it back on and make sure the pin was in place so it wouldn’t fall off again. While doing this, I felt something pull in my right lower back, and radiate out to my hip. I ended up finishing my task and I went into my house, took some ibuprofen and crawled into bed.
Weeks turned into months and the pain simply would not go away, in fact, it got worse. I was at a concert and had to walk up a set of stairs to get to the rest room. I was in tears by the top of the steps. The next day, I made an appointment with my local doctor and they did an x-ray of the area and didn’t “see” anything. The doctor hypothesized that I had arthritis (at 27) and gave me some muscle relaxers. They didn’t really make the pain go away, they just made me care less. I don’t care for taking any more medication than I have to, so I decided I needed to try something else.
For the first time in my life I visited a chiropractor. Through x-rays they discovered that my first and second lumbar discs were not the usual “pie shape” but more flattened, and my right hip was higher and pushed forward of my left hip – so essentially twisted. While the chiropractor did alleviate some of the pressure, I still had a tremendous amount of pain and it felt like I had a persistent knot in my lower right back. I went for treatment for about six months and I finally gave up on the chiropractor because it got to a point where I wasn’t in significant pain any more, but it also wasn’t making it better. (It didn’t make it worse, either.)
Struggling on and off for a couple of years, I resorted to ibuprofen, random chiropractor trips, and massage – I simply wasn’t getting the relief I needed. I had read about how wonderful Pilates was for strengthening your core muscles and I began doing Pilates at home with a VHS tape. (Yes, this was some time ago.) It was a simple mat Pilates workout that had two 20 minute sets. I started out doing it about 2 -3 times a week, then I slowly increased it to a daily practice. After about three months, I started to realize that my back pain has subsided. The further I got into my Pilates practice, I noticed not only did my back not hurt, but my body was also leaner and stronger. It seemed counterintuitive at the time, but, I knew it made the difference for me.
I walk, run, lift weights, and practice both Pilates and yoga now. My back pain, while still present, is not overly significant and I now see a chiropractor on a regular basis for maintenance. My back is in the best shape it has ever been.
There is a great video on YouTube by Dr. Mike Evans. He talks about movement and back pain. It is very thorough and explains why “motion is lotion” and one of the best treatments for lower back pain. I hope that you will consider trying a safe exercise routine to help alleviate your lower back pain rather than resorting to medication only.
As always, please consult your doctor before doing any new form of exercise.