Healthy backs bend in all directions

by Jay Hiller, October 5, 2022

I didn’t want to post a cliched picture of someone’s back.
Photo by Takahiro SaWhkamoto on Unsplash

When I was in my early 30’s and had a 3-year-old and an infant, I had almost constant, nagging back pain. I couldn’t figure out why. It added to the fatigue that naturally comes with having young children. And it made me feel old. Eventually somebody told me that the chair I had selected to sit in while I fed my baby was forcing my back into a slump. I bought a metal insert for my chair from a store that specialized in gadgets for back pain and my back pain improved. However, I thought of myself as having a delicate back, subject to unexplained pain at any time. It turned out, I wasn’t that fragile.

In one of my favorite yoga books, 30 Essential Yoga Poses for Beginning Yoga Students and their Teachers (Rodmell Press, Berkley, CA, 2003) master yoga teacher and physical therapist Judith Lasater says that healthy backs bend in all directions. I eventually learned that gentle skilled back bending, extension, was really good for my back, as were side bends and twists. Over a period of time I also learned how important strengthening the back of my body was. I rarely have backaches now and when I do, I don’t have that feeling of dread that I used to experience. The first twinge of back pain for me used to mean that I was going to be uncomfortable for weeks. Now I have tools for managing it.

One of my favorite sources for managing back pain is a book written by a chiropractor, Robin McKenzie, Seven Steps to a Pain Free Life. I lost my copy a long time ago, because I brought it to work and it’s been making the rounds among my colleagues with back pain. I couldn’t think of a better fate for a good book. I’ve found second hand copies for under $10, a low risk investment.

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