"What a difference a day makes! Yesterday, I was fine fine and today when bending down to get my runners ... Yikes ... stabbing pain in my lower back." Does this scenario strike a cord?
Sudden or severe pain can be disconcerting and leave an individual wondering "What the heck just happened?" Patients often state that it hit them "out of the blue", or they surmise that they must have slept wrong, overdid it at the gym or must be getting old.
Connecting the pieces of the puzzle can be challenging if we limit our search for an explanation to recent events. Typically, there are multiple injuries, big and small, that have accumulated over the weeks, months, years, even decades that set the stage -- and the bending down to pick up your tennis shoes just happens to be the last straw! Big injuries, called "macro-traumas", are significant events such a a wipe out down a set of stairs or a car accident. The other more common but less obvious type, are "micro-traumas" and include everyday activities like :
- constantly looking down at your devices
- reading in bed
- carrying a backpack
- sleeping on your stomach
- carrying your purse on the same shoulder
- carrying your head in a forward position
- repetitive use of a mouse with one hand
- lifting a baby in / out: up / down
- slouching while driving or sitting at work / school / home
- walking/running distances with a misaligned pelvis
An accumulation of both trauma types dig away at the integrity and alignment of the spine. Just like a rain barrel that's about to over-flow, once the body has reached more load than it can handle, it will shift in an effort to protect itself. Long-standing misalignments lead to irritation of spinal nerves, adding further insult to injury. This is when the body is especially vulnerable, similar to when your computer firewall is down. Now, a motion that you perform everyday triggers a chain of events that will take special care to correct.
While macro-traumas are unfortunate and accidental, you do have the ability to minimize the impact of micro-traumas. How? Build awareness of how you carry yourself when you walk, sit, drive and sleep. Work on better postural habits and most importantly keep challenging your body. Your nervous system craves positive change - that's what can help you climb out of a rut. And why it makes sense to have your spine and nervous system checked regularly by your chiropractor.