On my way to losing a marathon!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Oh my achin' back

One year ago, I got fed  up with my back problems, and sought the help of a physical therapist.  I was in constant pain.  Sitting, standing, walking, turning over in bed.  Everything hurt all the time.  I had a heating pad that I kept plugged in near the couch, so that if and when I had to sit, I could sit on that, and relieve some of the ache.

I've never had a great back.  I started having some pain radiating from my lower back down through my feet when I was a freshman in high school.  Apparently, according to a couple of chiropractors and some physical therapists, my problem is weakness.  I have great muscle tone, nearly everywhere. The big fat exception to this is my waist, I guess.  My lower stomach and lower back areas are basically completely devoid of muscles.  This causes other things to over-compensate, and muscles and bones to get all weak and achey.

But this last round with pain, well, it was a doozy.  And I'd been getting really scared.  That much pain after just 1 pregnancy?  THAT much pain, every moment of every day, in my twenties?  Because then, what happens if I get pregnant again?  Do I give up walking? What happens when I turn 30, 40, or 50??

My physical therapist from last year encouragingly informed me that my problem was structural, just a part of who I was, and despite daily exercises, would never fully get taken care of.  I will ALWAYS have back problems.  Was it worse because of my weight?  No, he said.  It wasn't about that.  I should just keep doing the recommended stomach and back strengthening exercises, and for gosh sakes, don't try to run, that's just going to make things worse.  If you want to lose weight you can do so by walking (no I can't, for serious, I've tried) or swimming (because I have a pool, or gym membership).

So eventually I got serious about weight loss and did some safe exercises.  At 165 pounds, NEARLY healthy, my back wasn't better.  Exercise certainly helped, for that day, maybe the next, and life went on.  Against medical advice I decided to run because, well, I was lighter now and I felt like flying.  Because even though I'm a slow bird, it does feel a little like flying.

Against medical advice, running is my exercise of choice.  And contrary to what my PT thought, while running, and having lost over 40 pounds, my back is feeling better.  Not perfect, it's never been that great and it probably never will be, but I can stand and sit and lie down and turn over and walk and run and not wince in pain twenty times a day.

I guess the moral of this story is: fat hurts.  Carrying extra weight puts more stress on your body in many, many ways.  Yes, my main problem is muscular, and was with me from birth.  But having an extra 40 pounds was killing me, was making me feel like I may  not even be walking in my 30's, was making me fear that I wouldn't be able to endure another pregnancy.  I don't know if my PT was trying to be kind, or truly wasn't aware that my additional weight was exacerbating my pain, but it wasn't that kind.  Because, had I really heard that, and only that, I would still probably be in the same amount of pain today as I was a year ago.

I was overweight and sedentary a year ago.  But not today.

Today, I fly.

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