Tomorrow it will have been 3 months since my surgery. I imagined that by now I would be, at the very least, able to stand up and bend over without feeling the same ol' pain, and had even grander dreams of running and skiing and dancing again. While that's not exactly the case, I feel confident that things are improving, albeit really, really, really slowly.
My surgery fixed up my major problem, which was herniated discs in my lower back. But, now that those are cleaned up and no longer an issue, a bunch of other issues that we all previously chalked up to being symptoms of the discs are still lurking around! Basically, in an attempt to cause me the least amount of pain from those slipped discs, my body has been trying to help me by overcompensating with other muscles (thanks for the effort, body!), but those tiny changes in the way that I move and do things have been causing damage that now needs to be undone. Upper back tightness, lower back inflexibility, hip rotation, pain in the glutes (yes, my butt hurts!).
I'm going to physical therapy twice a week and being the best darn patient I know how to be while at home, doing my exercises every day (except for a couple I missed while traveling over Christmas), changing my habits of movement and sitting, and just trying to be aware of what I am doing to my back. It's helping - I know it is - but it's not at all the instant relief that I had hoped I would have the moment I woke up from surgery, and honestly, it's frustrating.
In an effort to keep myself accountable for my own back health and to keep a record for my future self of the changes I've made, I wanted to document these things here. (Also, if you have lower back pain on a daily basis, try changing up some of these things!)
- I don't lift anything over 10 pounds. If I need to move something heavy and no one else is around, I usually just push it with my feet. This has been a hard one for me because I've always prided myself on being strong (that's even what my name means!).
- When I do pick something up, I keep it as close to my body as possible. One of my physical therapists told me to pretend I have T-Rex arms. I love that visual.
- If I need to reach the floor or something low, I always squat instead of bending over. I've rearranged my kitchen so that the things I use more than once a week are no longer in lower cupboards, so I have to do this even less.
- I try to remember to stand up at least once an hour. That sounds like nothing, but I have a desk job, and I really could go a long time without ever getting up!
- Ergonomics of my work spaces and how I sit are also a big part of it. As part of my PT, we took pictures of me in the places I sit the most, and my therapist helped me make adjustments.
Fascinating, I know (<--- sarcasm). There are tons of little changes and adjustments to be made and reteaching my body the correct way to move, but I really want to have less pain and more movement, and get back to the level of strength and energy and mobility as I had before. I'll keep you updated!