The first time my back went out, I was 27 years old. I was about to go on a media tour, appearing on morning news programs to plug a book I had written, and I was terrified. I had a mortal fear of public speaking, and the very thought of waking up at 5 a.m. to talk eloquently about anything to thousands of people was … well, I can’t tell you because I couldn’t even ponder it. Whenever my mind wandered toward my impending TV debut, I froze. It didn’t take long for my back muscles to get the message to freeze, too — and pretty soon I was moving as gingerly as I could, whimpering with every step. And the pain lasted several weeks longer than the media tour.
That experience taught me a few things about back pain:
1. The more I moved, the worse I felt.
2. The more freaked out I got, the worse I felt.
3. To really get to the root of the pain, I had to address the big emotions I was feeling (fear, anxiety, low confidence).
I’m not suggesting back pain is all in your head. I’m saying there are a lot of factors involved in back pain — particularly if your flare-ups are seemingly unrelated to anything that happens to your body, as in, “I just bent over to pick up my shoe, and boom!” So taking an approach that targets your alignment, stress levels and emotions will have a more profound effect than taking a pill.
These yoga poses from Rodney Yee’s sequence in the Mayo Clinic Wellness Solutions for Back Pain DVD help you get unfrozen and bring space, blood flow and release to back muscles. They also show you that you’re not incapacitated, and allow you to move that fragile-feeling area gently and safely. Perhaps most importantly, they empower you to take an active role in healing the causes of your back pain. If you try them, take it slow, breathe deeply, and don’t do anything that results in sharp, shooting pain.
May they help you get back on your feet again.