Keen to ramp up the self-treatment of my recurring back problems, I hunted about for a good book on personal spinal therapy. I picked up a book a little while ago on pilates but found it next to useless, and although I’ve dabbled with yoga, so far I found the results a little random, and with seemingly little focus in these resources on the kinds of back issues I’ve been getting, I came to the conclusion that non-targetted application of these techniques was a very hit-and-miss affair, with potential to injure as well as assist. What I really needed was a resource that helped me deal with the very specific issues I was getting – and with backs, there seem to be a number of different things that can go wrong.
I found Sarah Keys’ book, The Back Sufferers Bible, through various review sites, and found a large number of people with what sounded like much more serious issues than I have highly recommending it. Sarah specialises in backs above all else, and has written a number of books on the subject over the past couple of decades. This book seemed like the ideal self-treatment text, so I ordered a copy, and it arrived a little under a week ago now.
I’m already quite impressed. The book goes into a large amount of detail about how the spine works, what can go wrong, and how to recover from it – more than any other book I’ve read, and contains much more information than I’ve got out of my various physio/osteotherapists in the past. Even better, I found within its various chapters an exact description of the recent problem I had, something she calls an ‘acute locked back’. Having had physios prod me and tell me my (latest, mid-back) problem was fairly unusual and hard to pin down, it was a great relief to see it described in such accurate detail – right down to how it felt immediately before, after, and longer term. Having seen so many articles that just focus on lumbar pain, I was so glad to find an author who clearly understood exactly what I had, and had exercises laid out specifically to deal with it. The text actually agreed with my most recent physio’s eventual recommendations, but what’s nice is that it has a much greater range of exercises to do, with more detail as to the kind of timescales involved, and when it’s safe to graduate from one type of exercise to another, and focussing on long-term recovery. It’s nice to see someone saying that the spine can get better too, and that it’s not inevitable that I’ll be on a downward slide for the rest of my life, provided I tackle it the right way.
One thing that the book also taught me was that dehydration was a risk issue. I’ve never been one to drink as much water as you’re supposed to in a day – for some reason I just don’t get that thirsty, and when we’re on holiday in a hot country my wife is always telling me to drink more, even though I don’t feel like I need it most of the time. Such a metabolism might be efficient in arid countries, but lack of water is one of the things that over a prolonged period of time can cause disc degeneration. So as well as my exercise I’m trying to remember to stay more hydrated.
So far, I feel quite a bit better. I’d dipped last week, which I now believe was mostly down to some over-enthusiastic drumming, but I’ve done some moderate drumming this week too, I’ve just been a little more sensible and combined it with the book’s exercises (as well as my daily walks), and I find that besides a little soreness, I’m able to cope much better and most of the stiffness, tenderness and most importantly the red-hot knifing pains, are gone. The exercises seem to be targeting my specific injury more effectively than other things I’ve tried in the past, and also allow me to start strengthening up my various trunk muscles again without putting adverse pressure on my spine; one of the problems I’ve had in the past.
It’s early days, but so far, so good. If it carries on like this, this book will have been a great investment.