Wednesday, May 15, 2013

So, Your Back Went Out...

My worst nightmare happened a couple of weeks, especially after considering everything I went through last year trying to run a marathon. I threw out my back three days before the official start week of my training for the October marathon.

This is my back right now crying, whining, screaming, etc.
How? Well, I will tell you it wasn't something cool like this.

It was by opening a bathroom door and the way I twisted as I walked through it. Yup....that's it. Pride completly deflated now.

On a side note, if they have installed automatic handicap doors, remember that it's just a little bit heavier than normal.

Okay, so weird. I typed Back Injury Images in and this is an image I got. I have no idea what to say about this picture or what it has to do with back injuries. There was another picture similar to this one. Oh the wonders of Internet. I had to include it in this post.
You may be asking what I am going to do about the marathon with this injury? Lucky for me, I budgeted rest weeks (every fourth week) in my training. I will now start the first week of June, which is the actual 18 weeks start before the marathon.

In the mean time, I'm doing my best to heal my back safely with some exercises, which is why I wanted to write this post. The following are things that I have learned along the way dealing with this back since my car accident in 2000.
  1. If this is your first back injury, then go see a Doctor. I didn't take care of my back after that initial car accident and it's been messed up ever since. I have had far too many of these injuries and plenty of extra meds from my 2012 year of pain to not have to call him. 
  2. This may be my little secret, especially when you have a really bad, painful back day. You know the kind....your back is out, but you had to walk around all day or sit in your computer chair all day. Well, the first thing you do is sit in a jacuzzi/jacuzzi style bath tub on the jets for 30 minutes (ONLY 30 MINUTES....too much heat is not good). Then, as soon as you are done, get in a cold pool or take a cold shower for 20-30 minutes. If you don't have a jacuzzi or a gym membership, then use a heating pad and a ice pack. This will relieve your back pain immediately, but it's only a temporary fix. Use it everyday if you can as part of your healing regiment, but DO NOT USE as your only source of recovery. As you can see, I do several things.
  3. Cobra and Low Cobra yoga poses are pretty much the only stretches that I can do at any time of the back injury. I typically do these in the morning as soon as I get out of bed to start my day off right. If any of it hurts, stop immediately.
  4. I do these poses slow and controlled and always use my breath.
  5. When I get home from work (and after I talk to Jim), I go for at least a mile walk. Monday night, I went for 2 miles. Walking is the best ever for your back. It's nice to get out in the fresh air (thankfully, it's not too hot) and just take in what you see, feel, breathe, and hear. I even saw a guy doing Tai Chi in a parking lot.
  6. Swimming is also another great exercise to do that is easy on the back and provides one heck of a workout. It also burns a lot of calories (20 minutes of breaststroke burned 240 calories). I was lucky enough to be at a hotel last week with not only a jacuzzi, but a big pool. I would do 30 minutes in the hot tub and then immediately in the pool for 20-30 minutes of swimming. The only style of swimming that I could really do was the breaststroke, because it has minimal twisting and movements around the backside. I did try the backstroke, but I tended to twist when I got tired. I also slammed my head against the wall. I eventually changed it up to swimming backwards for a few laps using my legs and one arm out to touch the wall. But for the most part, it was all breaststroke.
  7. REST! REST! REST! Do not overdo it or start to quickly. If anything, you should only do what's listed in 2-5.
  8. I could not do Yoga or Pilates, but Tai Chi was really helpful for my back in previous years. It has slow and controlled movements, while building your back strength. However, do not try this on the first week of your back injury.
  9. Talk to your Health, Safety, and Environment (HSE) person at work (or maybe even Human Resources) to fix your chair for back injuries. Mine went out last year after getting rear ended at a stop light. They put extra padding on my chair and it has been a godsend!
  10. When your back starts to feel better, DO NOT assume that it is better. Go slow. I am looking at maybe starting to run next week. By that, I mean that I will walk and occassionally jog to gauge how my back feels.
  11. Exercising your mind keeps you in shape for when you do officially start your training. Right now, I'm reading Running with the Mind of Meditation, which is about a Buddhist Monk who runs marathons. I will do a full review later, but my initial feeling is that I like it. I have even applied some of his ideas to my walking.

Certainly, if you have any questions, ask me or go to your Doctor. They really do help! I did not include biking in the above list. I haven't tried it yet, but I hear it is good. I live on the second story and was not able to get my bike up and down the stairs with my back being out. So, maybe next time if there ever will be one again.

That last sentence brings me to my new goal (besides training for a marathon)...strengthen my back and core. I'm going to be a tyrant on this, because I'm tired of dealing with this crap. For starters, I've talked to Suzanne at Workout Nirvana about a virtual personal training program; she will design my program around strengthening my back and core. It's really inexpensive and it will help my running in the long run. I'm also adding swimming to my training weeks. We are supposed to have cross training anyways, but I wasn't sure what I would do for that type of exercise. I figured I would just go with whatever I felt like doing that day. I remembered how great it felt when I would stretch in the pool after a long, hot run. So, now I will use swimming as my cross training and even add it after my runs. If anything, I will burn extra calories and get so bad ass that I finally beat the Giant in our next swimming race. Oh, it's happening.


  1. Thanks for the shout out Kristi! I'm so glad we connected. I love your positive attitude and determination to get over this thing. (And dang, those automatic doors ARE heavy!) Everything you're doing will pay off, and when you're ready, a structured strength training program will help enormously. Can't wait to start training together!

    1. Thanks Suzanne! I'm so glad we connected, too. I'm trying to be positive, but it has already been a tough year for me ranging from injuries to death. I can't wait to start the program and really get myself back to the way it was before 2000! Okay, maybe not that much like before.

  2. Oops? Did I lose my reply? Hope I'm not double-sending! Anyway, those are great tips. Good reminder about any kind of injury... find positive things to focus on!

    1. You did reply my last post, but not twice on this post. I'm at least trying to stay positive. It's oh so very hard though.

      And when is our next dining outing?

  3. I'm so sorry to hear this, I hope your back will heal soon and that you still have enough time to finalize your training plan for the marathon. Good luck to you and congrats with your positive attitude.

    1. Thanks Freya. It's getting better everyday and I should be able to start soon. I'm actually going to test it out next week with some light jogging.

  4. In all sides of the health and fitness industry, a specialist can
    be knowledgeable, but all this know-how is just good in theory, if
    he does not have plenty of knowledge. Perhaps, it's time for you
    to transform your trainer.

    1. I'm not sure what you mean by transform your trainer. When I wrote this post, I hadn't started my training program. I did in June though. I also didn't contact my doctor. It went out after I reinjured and then I called my doctor. I'm on a different regiment right now and no training program. I'm using the back strengthening stretches my doctor gave me.

    2. I meant I didn't call him until after I reinjured it in June.


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