That Feels a Little Better

Bonus points for getting that reference. Hint, it’s about back pain. Come to think of it, so is this.

Last time I spilled a few pixels talking about acute lumbar pain, you know, the sudden, short term agony in you lower back. That feeling when something goes, “CLICK” and you spend a week in bed on painkillers and anti-inflammatories.

I wrote about this because I’ve suffered it, my lovely wife has suffered it, and we’re not exactly typical low back pain victims. We’re both fit and strong, and do a crap ton of yoga. The typical causes of lumbar pain are weak spine and core muscles, and a sedentary lifestyle. Yogis do not typically suffer these problems.

The thing is, it’s more than just having strong core and spinal muscles, they need to be properly trained, which is one of the reasons I do my Posture Monday posts. Those exercises, especially the earlier ones, are specifically aimed at helping train the core and spinal muscles to aid in proper posture. But then, as you might surmise from my Posture Thursday posts, they do so much more.

When I set out to fix my lousy posture (one of the main triggers for acute low back pain) I learned that I needed to do more than train my brain to hold my posture up, I needed to train my body as well. That training began with learning a simple core brace, and training my core muscles for strength and endurance.

Then I had to re-curve my lumbar spine, which was completely flat (tor the uninitiated, that’s bad, mmmkay), and this is what the simple back bends I described are for. I moved on to other things; rotator cuffs, whole body exercises etc., but it starts with core strength and exercises to teach/relearn proper spinal alignment.

So, go back 7 years to that “CLICK” which led me to almost collapse on my boy when I was trying to help him out of the car. The journey from there to here, from then to now, involved first accepting that I was neither as strong nor as fit as I thought. Second, I had to learn new and better ways to exercise. Third, I had to completely eliminate ALL lumbar flexion from my life for over two years to allow my lumbar spine (muscles, discs, nerves) to heal. Fourth, I had to take the lessons learned out of the yoga room and apply them to daily life.

That’s both the long and the short of it. The ease of it all, and the difficulty of it all. A few simple steps, a few simple exercises, but a multi-year process to learn them, and to apply them. And as easy as it was to type that out, applying it was hard.

The good news, I last had a bout with acute low back pain about a year ago, and I was recovered within 24 hours; I literally slept if off. The bad news, 7 years later, I still have the weakness in my low back that allows me to suffer acute lumbar pain. The good news, the changes persist; life gets in the way, and I fall off the posture exercise wagon. Hell, I fall off the good posture wagon…yes I occasionally find myself slouching (that’s a 5 decade habit I’m breaking), but the persistence of change means that even when I slip, my back is still many times better, stronger, healthier and more aligned than it was 7 years ago.

The best news? If I can fix my back after 45 years of abuse (some of it pretty hard), then anybody can, even you.

You are never too old, never too bad, never too late, never too sick to start from the scratch once again with yoga.

Bikram Choudhury

All you have to do, is to just show up, and keep showing up, and keep showing up. The changes will come, and the changes will persist. I’m living proof.

And the title is taken from the Simpsons episode when Homer became a garage Chiropractor, using his amazing “spino cylinder, patent pending.”