Why I Gave Meg a Smackdown – A Story About Backpain

I must admit, my recollection of talking with Meg about her low back pain wasn’t quite as Earth shattering as her recollection (check out her post here). But these kind of epiphanies don’t usually involve both people.

Apparently I said, “Are you seriously telling me you can’t take a half second with a screaming child to protect your body?”

Perhaps that is what I wished someone would have said to me over the years.

I have had such a long story of back pain. I think that is one of the main reasons that I became a Physical Therapist. Even as a teenager and young adult I had seen many doctors and Physical Therapists about my back.

My first memorable back pain was when I was maybe 11 years old. I was a competitive swimmer and I was having back pain that was preventing me from doing the butterfly kick (the ultimate core workout). Even then I’d injured myself because I didn’t have great body awareness or core strength.

Then the list of back injuries is long, and over time more complex. I eventually developed sciatica that limited my running and playing field hockey. I would generally recover and get back to sports, but I never really learned how to move well or get my core strong.

The final “straw that broke the camel’s back” was when I was working in a hospital in Boston. I was working with patients who’d had a stroke or brain injury. It was a really heavy job helping people get out of bed and teaching them to walk again. One day I was helping a large man get back into bed and I didn’t wait for the nurse to help me. Boom! There went my back. I took almost three months off work and had to come back to the lightest floor possible.

It took me a good year to get stronger.

So yes, I wish someone would have said to me, “can’t you take an extra second to protect your back before you lift this man?”

But in retrospect, it was more than that. No one had really taught me the right way to use my muscles. No one figured out that the exercises I was trying (Pilates, planks) were way to hard and I was just reinforcing the compensation strategies instead of really getting my deep core muscles to work the way they hadn’t since I was 11 years old.

Now I am strong and my lower back rarely hurts.

So not a “smackdown” , but a question to save you my pain.

Many of you have a story about back pain, most people do. I had given up on getting stronger until more recently when I really connected with my deep core muscles and started to use good posture.

Being a new mom is a great time to start again. Read all of Meg’s posts about the deep core and practice connecting to these muscles without holding your breath or straining.

Does my story resonate with you? Do you have a great outcome like I do? Are you still in the middle of your back pain cycle? Leave a comment below, we’d love to know.

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