I have been fortunate to avoid serious injury over the past 44 years. I do experience chronic back pain from tightness in the surrounding muscles. Once it activates, it can take weeks to go away. If you have other aches and pains from exercising, traveling long hours or sleeping too often in one position, then this tip is for you.
Aside from my daily multivitamin pack and two omega fish oils, I prefer not to tamper with my body chemistry. The data on the effects of long-term pain reliever use include liver damage and ulcers, so I avoid them unless my pain level is at a 10. Two years ago, I strained my back doing yoga. Attempting to imitate a seasoned yogi on the mat in front of me, I felt a sharp, sudden pain in my lower back. This ego-inflicted injury taught me more of a lesson than my yoga practice ever did.
I visited a doctor even though I knew it wasn’t anything serious. She told me not to exercise for a few weeks, see a physical therapist to strengthen the surrounding muscles and take some Aleve when needed. Going without activity is only an option if I have been up vomiting all night. Exercise doesn’t have to be a shirt drenching, Soul Cycle class; it’s anything that gets me moving. An hour walk in Central Park or some light weight lifting is sufficient. Bottom line, I didn’t listen and learned quickly that consistent movement agitated my back to the point where I was in constant pain.
I reluctantly set up an appointment with a friend’s PT. My experiences with PTs range from a waste of time to feeling ripped off. Monica Joshi at Back in the Game Therapy located in Midtown Manhattan is the real deal. Aside from being an attractive woman, she is also a straight shooter with the goal of getting you in and out of her practice short term and long term at a rapid pace. She taught me exercises and gave me lifestyle strategies that helped my back enormously and still do two years later. It turns out the way I was standing was hurting my back more than any exercise I was doing.
Pain management became a fixation because I missed park walks and sitting upright in a chair at a restaurant was still sending my back into spasms. While grabbing some toothpaste at Duane Reade, I walked past an aisle and noticed a section with Icy Hot patches and ThermaCare Heat Pads. I had never used either. Grabbing a few boxes, I hurried home to conduct a performance evaluation. The Icy Hot patches worked well and reeked of mint. The ThermaCare pads were more effective without stinking up my clothes.
What started out as a way to manage my back pain turned into an obsession. I actually have one on my lower back now as I type this. Sitting and working on my computer for hours can still bother my back. The heat pads last for eight hours, staying in place even under a cocktail dress. They also function as a heat source on winter days. I also wear them to bed because I find that when vital muscles in my body are soothed, I sleep more soundly.
No, ThermaCare is not paying me to write this although they probably should.