My Journey Through Low Back Pain and Recovery (Pt. 2)
If you are just joining me here, read http://cassfitness.net/my-journey-through-low-back-pain-and-recovery-pt-1/
to get caught up to speed.
I was narrowing my search for the best chiropractors in the area. I lived in Germantown, MD but I was willing to travel anywhere in Montgomery County for the best service. I ended up going with Rockville Medical and Disk Center. due to the great reviews and testimonials received by their other patients.
They did a consultation and gave me x-rays. The results were pretty crazy! My spine was curved very far to the right. I was thinking, “How in the hell did the last doctor totally miss that?”. I was offered hope. I was told my road to recovery may be a long one with bumps, but I could recover 100%. I had problems with my sacroiliac joint (SI Joint) on the right side. I was told I should take decompression therapy and go for visits three times a week initially. The chiropractor work also was not cheap. Unfortunately, they did not accept my health insurance. I was paying out of pocket, but thankfully they worked with me on a payment plan.
There is one thing health related I wanted to point out. I was still active in the gym but to a smaller degree with the back injury. When I got my blood pressure checked (which was required before each appointment), my results were fantastic. In fact, I was told I had some of the best results out of any patient they have ever seen. That was just one of the many benefits of still eating healthy, getting as much exercise as physically possible, and not giving into to comfort food temptations due to depression and other emotions I felt in this roller coaster ride.
I remember the feeling I had after the first real session. I felt amazing. In fact, I have not felt that great in probably six months. I had very little pain in my lower back. What did I do? I went to the gym and hit the weights hard. I was plowing through flat bench press, one arm rows, and then during the incline bench press, I pulled my back. I felt like I was practically at square one, but I knew I was doing a lot of things correctly in my recovery I was not previously doing, so instead of feeling down, I had positive thoughts.
However, after several sessions, I was slowly improving, along with continuously working on improving my core strength. I laid off the heavy weights too! The chiropractor also had me do traction therapy. I had a weighted ball placed in a strap that was around my forehead. I had to look upwards for 15 minutes once my body became accustomed to it. I did not like traction at first, but the benefits it gave my posture were worth it.
My job allowed me to sit and stand with a chiropractor’s note, which helped. Standing for eight or more hours a day was a huge factor as to why I was in pain in the first place. I also started researching beds. I had a crappy bed the lady I rented from had in the room. I opted to buy a single firm bed. It was okay, but not great. It was all I could afford at the time. I researched memory foam toppers. I failed miserably with the first two purchases. The first one I bought for $80 and I just sunk to the bottom. It was a cheap piece of crap with little actual memory foam. The second one I bought for $250, and it was not as bad. It was not consistent. Some nights, I felt okay waking up the next morning, and some nights were hell. Finally, I tried a Tempurpedic topper and it changed my world. It was pricey at $375, but waking up with a lot less pain every morning was worth it. Plus, I could travel with it, and I still do today if I know I am traveling somewhere with a very uncomfortable bed or couch.
Six months went by, and it was June 2012. I was re-evaluated and my x-rays looked much better. I was not 100%, but I felt way better. I went to follow ups once a week with the chiropractor. I was resuming much of my previous workout routine, but I was just a lot more careful of my form and aware of my mind to muscle connection. I also finally took off the back belt I had been wearing much of the time, as it was becoming more of a crutch, rather than something that helped. I was rid of it for good while I was in California a few weeks later with my brother and sister in law.
I did lots of exercise and spent some quality time in the hot tub at the hotel to lessen the painful side effects.
Over the next several months, I had good days and I had bad days. On the bad days, I concentrated more on movements like the Floor Bridge, the Plank, the Cat/Camel, and Foam Rolling for the back and hip flexors. I discovered decompression tactics like hanging on a pull-up bar.. Even on the good days, I implemented these drills to give me confidence in my workouts. I began programming a 2:1 pull-push split, and I incorporated exercises like Lat Pulldowns, Face Pulls, Pull-Ups, and Chin-Ups once my back was feeling better on a more regular basis. I definitely lost some muscle, but not as much as I thought I would lose. I was able to do a lot of maintenance with high reps, I ate very healthy with a high protein diet, and I did not gain any unwanted weight. I only lost about five pounds between June 2011 and June 2012, but I quickly gained that lean muscle weight back soon after.
I felt how much my back health was truly improving. As 2012 wrapped up, I was still not 100%. I still had a lot of trouble sitting for more than 10-15 minutes at a time, which made trips back home to Pittsburgh from the DC area longer than they had to be.
Stay tuned for part 3 as I document how my pain helped mold me as a personal trainer, how I finally did my first deadlift, the fears I overcame, how this injury humbled me, and more!