How I came back better: An update on recovery from lower back pain

In this post I talked about how in a 3-week bout of excruciating back pain I vowed to come back better. 

When each tiny movement brought crippling spasms, I would mutter, “Come back better.”

Or shout — sometimes I shouted.

It became my mantra. Each time I was pissed off for being in the condition I was in, Come back better was the relief valve. Each time I was overcome with the pain it took to get from A to B, Come back better was the pick-me-up.

Coming back better meant surpassing the level of body health I’d been in just before the back trauma. If you can call reaching into a dryer a trauma . . . 

Suffering a bout of excruciating back pain is common enough that everyone has a favorite solution. The top choice was an instant dosing of pharmaceuticals. Followed by back exercises once you got better.

I stayed away from this solution — initially — feeling there had to be better ways.

Celeste, a Reiki master, gave me a quick 10-minute Reiki session because I didn’t have more time. 

It was an impromptu session, given out of love the moment she saw me bent over like a broken sapling.

What I remember most is how her hands — only slightly warm when she began working on my back from head down — all of a sudden became heated when she got to my lower lumbar region. Her palms were on fire!

Afterward I asked what had happened there, how could her hands have become so hot in the space of an instant. 

Celeste said she asks for the energy to come through where it is most needed — and this is what tends to happen. Sudden healing heat. 

In that first week of my back issue — when grimacing became my default facial expression — I tried neurofeedback at the Center For Brain Training.

After the first treatment I felt so much better I promptly went out and re-injured myself again.  You know, made a little love with my wife, got too active . . . bad results. But well worth it. So well worth it.

In the second week I gave in to pharmaceuticals. Only I’m so anti-drugs that everyone who uses muscle relaxants to ease the constrictions in the back told me that I used them way too sparingly. What I took in a 24-hour period everyone else seemed to pop before breakfast. 

After five days of no improvement with pharmaceuticals I quit them. And went back to the Center for Brain Training for a second session.

That helped . . . I used the lessening pain to begin a very light set of exercises my brother had shown me. A series of movements he does every morning in combination with his morning prayer.

The next morning I rolled onto a yoga mat to begin my brother’s exercises. However, I’ve done just enough yoga to have a couple dozen simple postures burned into my body-brain . . . so I let that roll. 

I did this several times a day for 10 minutes at a time, every time my back began to ache beyond my barrier of acceptable pain.

The morning sessions increased from 10 to 20 to 30 minutes daily. By the end of a week — the third week — I was a healthy young buck again. In fact, I helped a friend move furniture at the end of the fourth week.

So yes, I came back better. (!) Best of all I came back with a morning yoga practice, which I’ve fantasized about for a couple of years.

I pass this on to you now — so you don’t have to go through trauma to find your way to a supple back and body. 

Now when I miss the morning yoga I can feel it, the way you feel a cold coming on. Now I’m accustomed to feeling vibrant as I throw myself into the day . . . without the morning yoga that feeling is diminished. I feel the offness of having missed a session.

Yoga upon waking brought me back better. If you’re feeling sluggish or achy breaky, consider rolling out of bed and giving 10 to 20 minutes over to articulating your body.

The best way is to do it after sliding out of bed. Or in my case, after the morning pee, which comes on the heels of easing out of bed. 

As Charles Duhigg notes in The Power of Habit, by linking to something you already do it’s far, far easier to instill a new habit. 

You can combine your practice with reverence, as my brother does. As I do per his example. There’s no better way to gird yourself up for the day. 

I’m telling you, the day will come bearing gifts when you start it this way.

For you 

Evan Griffith
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