Tag Archives: sore back

Pinklea ‘n’ Pilates

imagesAn open letter to my Pilates instructor:

Dear K,

I’ve been in your Wednesday night Pilates class for how long, three and a half years I think? My attendance record has been rather remarkable, if I do say so myself. I’ve missed perhaps five classes in that whole time, which speaks to both the fact that I really enjoy the Pilates exercises and that I quite like you!

Although you are the only Pilates instructor that I have ever had, I truly think you do a fabulous job of it. You are able to break down each complicated exercise into several easy-to-follow steps, and you always mention two or three different ways to do it if anyone would like more or less of a challenge. You’re encouraging and helpful, and you have expertly answered every single question that I or anyone else in the class has asked. You constantly want to know how our bodies are feeling, and if anyone is experiencing any level of discomfort, you know exactly how to correct it or how to adjust the exercise so it doesn’t hurt any more.

Also, you do all of this with a grin and a wickedly keen sense of humour. We certainly do laugh a lot in that class!

Which brings me to my point (yes, I have one). You know how I have a wonky lower back, right? (I also have a wonky right shoulder, but I do believe that has finally worked itself out, almost two years later, so let’s stick to the lower back.) You’ve always cautioned me on certain Pilates movements, showing me different ways to do them if I feel any pain. I’ve always told you when it does hurt, and I have to say that since I have been doing Pilates, that it has hurt far far less often than it ever did before.

Well, K, I’ve just spent two days painting some walls in my house. I’ve been trying to be careful of my back, but of course I tweaked it when bending down to paint near the floor. It wasn’t so bad that I couldn’t finish the job, but it did pinch whenever I changed positions, like stood up or sat down.

I tried stretching it out a bit, then decided to go for a walk to further get it moving properly. At first, I was walking kinda funny, not quite standing up straight and not quite able to move my hips freely when taking a stride. And then I heard your voice in my head: “Shoulders back and down! Lift that pelvic floor!”

So I did those two things and right away I was standing taller and walking normally again AND my lower back didn’t hurt at all. It was quite nice, to say the least!

Anyway, thanks, K! I really do have a much stronger core now! This Pilates stuff really does work!images-1


PS – See? I really DO listen to you!


A back lesson

Yesterday at the gym, I got up from one of the machines and winced a little. My back kinda hurt. Just a bit. I finished the last two machines of my circuit a little more carefully than normal, thinking, “Hmm. My back kinda hurts. Just a bit.”

Then I went home.

Yep, my back still kinda hurt.

It kinda hurt all afternoon. My heart sank. I didn’t want to go there again. I’m tired of pain in my lower back already!

I called my chiropractor’s office, but she had already left for the day (at 3 pm?? What gives?? Does she keep a teacher’s hours now??). So I made an appointment for this morning. Then I took some meds for my back and settled myself very, very gingerly on the couch. I stayed there, on and off, all evening. My back kept kinda hurting whenever I moved. But at least it didn’t get any worse.

I was apprehensive about going to bed, because whenever my back acts up, I usually don’t get a good night’s sleep, and it’s worse in the morning. But to my surprise, it wasn’t worse in the morning. It certainly wasn’t any better, but it wasn’t worse.

I went to my chiropractor glumly. I even brought her a copy of the radiologist’s report from when I had my back x-rayed last summer. She read it carefully, then nodded. “It seems to be a wear-and-tear thing. You have these little bony spurs sticking out, and every now and then it’s like they seem to catch. And then it hurts and here you are.”

She performed her usual magic on me for fifteen minutes, then I went home. My back still kinda hurt. I was getting tired of walking stiffly and slowly – but hey, look on the bright side: at least I could still walk!

Then I went out for lunch with a good friend. We ate and talked for two hours straight. We hadn’t seen each other for a while, so we had a lot to catch up on, it seems.

And when we got up to go, my back felt, quite abruptly, much better. So much better, in fact, that when I got home, I cleaned my bathroom. Because I could. Bend down with minimal pain, I mean.

The moral of this story is, I think, that lunch with a good friend is more beneficial to one’s back than a visit to the chiropractor.

I must remember this.

So now you know …

I was at the doctor’s (again) this morning for the results of my recent back x-ray.

Remember all that back pain I suffer from at times? Well, it turns out that the reason for it …

… is still pretty much unknown.

The x-rays didn’t show a whole lot. Basically, my spine is aging – now there’s a news bulletin! I have some “mild multilevel degenerative change”, as evidenced by some disc space narrowing, a touch of arthritis, and the beginnings of some bony spurs where that wee bit of arthritis is. Nothing earth-shattering, and certainly nothing to explain the excruciating pain I had at the end of July.

So I guess that’s good news, that there are no serious skeletal issues with my back. But the question now becomes, so what DOES cause that intense pain?

The doctor was little to no help there. It wasn’t even my regular doctor, who is away till sometime next week. This guy doesn’t know me from a hole in the wall, and he was pretty vague. He mused that perhaps the pain was a muscular issue rather than skeletal – which would explain why, this last time, visiting my chiropractor didn’t actually relieve the pain very much. He suggested that I consider replacing the mattress on my bed and that I avoid sleeping on my stomach (which I haven’t done since I was a baby, but nice try, Doc). About the only useful piece of advice he had for me was to try to strengthen my core – which is something I had already planned to do, having signed up (I finally remembered!) for Pilates classes to add to my usual regime of workouts at the gym and power walking.

Okay. So I left the office, armed with a copy of the radiologist’s report. I don’t know what I’ll do with it. I guess I’ll just keep it until my next bout of back pain. Then I can look at it again and tell myself, “Well, self, there is no real reason for this back pain. Obviously, this back pain has no right to exist.”

And then hopefully, the pain will disappear.