Chances are if your 35-65 and in the throes of raising children, growing your business or in your career, exercising, let alone having a creative or sporting pursuit, you have experience back pain.
Recently, my back went into spasm. It’s something that usually happens when I get worn down, there’s an emotional trigger and I’ve been sitting for a bit too long, which happens when I get tired.
Now I have a history of back issues, due to athletics, adhesion buildup (that’s scar tissue) and I had an injury due to falling on black ice a few years back that left me in the hospital for a few months and drugs, inactivity, a less than optimal diet and a whole lot of other consequential and disruptive stresses.
But in the past, when I was much younger (and dumber) I would let that pain run its course and just carry on with my life. I was busy. Today, things are very different. I’m still busy, more so in fact, but knowing what I know about a cause, and resolving issues rather than letting them build into vicious cycles and downward spirals, I deal with it.
But like any human being, sometimes I/we gain expertise in a certain context, and then shift into a different context and forget to apply what I know.
This is what was happening with me and back pain. You see, I never really looked at it as a result of lifestyle factors. I saw it as just, well… back pain. And I had a story about it, that really did nothing about it.
Well, that changed this past August.
Back in August when my back pain was high and in spasm, not only did I need to go to multiple back pain specialists, each specializing in one modality, until I finally found a physical therapist that offered a multimodality approach– such as dry needling, traction, rolfing, electric stimulation, adhesion breakup techniques, stretching. I also used some chiropractic. I also tuned into all the lifestyle factors that had to change so that I didn’t give rise to this back problem and it was nothing less than a series of both tactical and strategic lifestyle changes that were required.
So I was committed to not having this pain again and to the time it might take to get out in front of this debilitating experience.
So here’s what I concluded…
1) I acknowledged that I needed to drop some of the weight of the past that had built up following my long hospital stay and never left. I had a new set point at a higher weight and that needed to change. It was the weight that was putting pressure on my lumbar joints. In process.
2)I had a good deal of excessive stress at the time that my back went into spasm. That had to change, so I changed several approaches to things that were going on at the time. One was an intensive leadership course I was involved in, where the instructor required everyone is sitting. I had to push back and stand a good portion of the time.
3) I needed to focus more on my core and keep it strengthened indeed; using both abdominal and back extension techniques
4) I needed some whole body light therapy (PBMT) to help accelerate recovery and help regenerate the tissue at a cellular level. This was invaluable and has now become a regular function in my lifestyle.
5) I realized I was not stretching regularly at the time and needed to build this back into my routine. Yeah, I got lax, really lax.
6) I had/have to pay special attention to responding calmly to what would for most people, or anybody, be an emotional experience. This past year saw our new baby girl being born, a major new release of our website and huge changes that were very challenging at times to deal with. With the excess demands on me, I just could not and can not afford the energy spend of emotional outbursts; it was putting me over my edge.
Even in my work with clients, I am taking a much more “unfolding” style of information delivery, less the cerebral, willful and dynamic push of information that I am used to because it’s very taxing on my energy levels. This new style enables me to regenerate more fluidly.
7) I needed to be drinking more water and electrolytes. I eat such a high-water content diet, but sometimes I forget to hydrate alongside.
8) Back exercises that catered to my condition needed to continue on a regular basis.
9) I would have to engage more regularly in traction, like with an inversion bed to take the pressure off my spine and elongate it. My back pain was not just caused by the buildup of scar tissue, there was a degenerated disk, (common among 50-year-olds), which under the right circumstances, it was pinching down on a nerve. So I needed to build this in more regularly not just when the pain emerged.
10) And probably the most important I needed to maintain my regeneration practice at the highest levels. In our busy, world, it’s easy to deprioritize regeneration in the spirit of working harder and longer (even for worthy reasons) and wear yourself down. We call this burning out and trading your health for success. From time to time, usually, when back issues spring up, I don’t need to look hard to discover that I’ve worn my body down due to getting lax on recovery and recuperation and it’s negatively affected my lifestyle.
There are reasons why #10 is the crux of living a performance lifestyle. You simply can’t mess with waring yourself down. You must keep yourself as highly regenerated as you can, starting with sleep.
It’s why on our new site, making a “regeneration transformation” is the key to correcting course when you start feeling worn down, and vital to living a performance lifestyle.