2017 marks an important year for me to pen down some thoughts.
Not because it outshone the past years with more sweet or bitter memories.
Every year end I see people writing reflections for the past and resolutions for the upcoming year. I wonder what was mine? Every year I couldn’t think of what was mine. But this year is different. This year is different because I started to be mindful, able to understand and catered to my needs.
It all started in Feb 2017 when I carelessly injured my lower back when I carried heavy furniture in the wrong posture. After various visits to doctor, physician, bone masseur, took X-ray, acupuncture and medicines it got better but not fully well. I asked the doctors shall I exercise to make it better or avoid moving much for it to heal? Doctor's advice was to rest first and monitor further, suggest I could approach a chiropractic if I want to. Since it wasn’t that bad and I only experienced pain after exercising, I made do with it.
The pain had worsened after my Bhutan trip in May, I suspected that was because of the horse riding at the mountain trail. At that point I suddenly feel that being able to run and jump without pain is such a bliss. That was my wake-up call! In the past I wasn’t exercising regularly and it was then that I realized that to be able to exercise without pain is fortunate.
More visits to the clinics and got better again but the pain would return and persisted for a few days after every long walk. Not serious but still there whenever I moved. I couldn’t even carry slightly heavier item, not even a kg. In August, I told myself I need to do something to manage this issue. I asked myself shall I exercise to make it better or avoid moving much for it to heal? Since the latter is not helping, let me try the former. I started to google what would be helpful and discovered that swimming helps. I couldn’t swim :P Perfect chance to learn and so I did, engaged a coach and started swimming lessons. For the first few lessons, I experienced back pain after each lesson. But after 3rd and 4th lessons the pain has reduced and more manageable. At the same time my company got external party to teach Mindfulness course and I signed up for it. There were 6 lessons and through this course I have learned to be more mindful about my actions, feel and pain. Breathe deeply and slowly helps me to pace my daily life slower, manage my stress better and understand my pain too. I started to take some good supplements to help in bones and joints.
I felt that I was ready to try to exercise besides swimming, I started with a YouTube clip by Athlean-X on “How to fix low back pain instantly”. I did two of his simple stretching and yes it did help to relief the pain instantly but not permanently. Well, we can’t expect to do one set of stretching and get our pain fixed right? I continued the same set of stretching every day and I could feel that it’s improving.
Slowly, I added my own random stretching that I could remember from past PE/Yoga classes.
Slowly, not rushing.
Slowly, not judging.
Slowly, keep with the breathing method. Inhale when stretched, exhale to release.
The key point is to go slow, feel the stretch and strengthen the muscles at that area. It is not about how much I could do, it is the stretch that I want to strengthen. Even 5 minutes of stretching helps. Constantly reminding myself, not to judge.
Slowly, I added more stretching exercises and even planking to strengthen other parts of the body muscles. Every time I introduced something new, I was mindful on which will cause the pain. When I spotted a particular exercise that caused the pain, that means I am not ready to perform that exercise. I got 2 small dumb bells (1 kg each) and started to train my arm muscles too. After a while I could start to carry heavier items without feeling the pain at my lower back.
Slowly, but steadily.
I did the above in the evening time.
In addition, I started to stretch on bed every morning when I woke up. Simple and slow, just a cobra stretch to relieve the stiffness from the long hours on bed. This is very helpful to start the day with a more relaxed lower back. Slowly, I added in the cat poses as well.
Sometimes I tried to follow YouTube video on some cardio exercises, I noticed I could perform those but I couldn’t keep up with their speed. Their speed didn’t allow me to go slow enough with my breathing method. However I managed to pick a few poses here and there from the video and added them to my exercise regime.
I am happy that I am managing my lower back pain well. I am not aching (just ache, not pain) unless I go overboard with my exercise or sit too long without changing position. I am still monitoring, I am not taking it for granted and let myself go back to the pain stage.