Being fit and active doesn’t guarantee you’ll remain pain free!!
The other day a new patient contacted us with acute lower back pain. Somewhat out of the ordinary for this person considering their lifestyle and vocation.
The onset of pain had occurred in the most innocuous of ways. The patient had been sitting on their sofa and had simply gone to get up and Bam! The patient dropped to the ground with what they considered to be similar sensation to being kicked by a mule. There had been no sudden movement or exertion just a gentle rise from the sofa.
The patient was late thirties and physically fit and healthy- they considered their diet and regularly exercised as well as having a number of hobbies based in outdoor pursuits. No overweight issues or previous back injuries. The patient was baffled by what had happened but the more we talked throughout the patient consultation the less baffled I became.
The patient trained road bike 4 times a week clocking up 150 plus miles easily per week. The patient also had a home gym and trained a mix of cardiovascular and weights 5 times a week. The patient also swam 3 times a week 50 lengths plus each visit. The patient had also until recently been involved in Ju Jitsu 2-3 times a week. Finally, on top of all this the patient ran their own business and spent time desk based and driving (in between everything else).
With all considered the patient was keen to know why it had happened and as I delivered treatment I explained. Where was the off button? Where was the down time? Where was all the stretching that compliments the activities? Where was the balance? Where was the recovery time for the body?
We went on to discuss the mechanisms leading up to what had happened and the fact that your body makes decisions all by itself. Decisions that deal with emerging physical issues. The body is brilliant at doing this day in day out which is why you will often feel niggles come and then suddenly go. Your body doesn’t involve you until it runs out of ideas or solutions then it lets you know. Your muscles are messengers and will let you know from time to time when all is not quite right. You need to listen when they are trying to communicate!
The patient had felt twinges in the lower back for a few days leading up to the sofa episode and had chose to ignore them. I explained that was the body letting them know all was not well. Instead of listening to the signals the patient continued to pile on the fitness pursuits. Sitting awkwardly on the sofa was the final straw.
They were baffled as they considered themselves fit and active and not prone to such issues but it was their pursuit of fitness that had actually landed them there. There had been lots of exercise and activity and so little rest. In the end, rest was all the patient was advised to do once we had completed our initial home visit.
We are now working together to ease the patient back in to exercise, the correct type of exercise to limit this happening again. The lesson learnt by the patient is that all the exercise in the world does not guarantee you will be pain free unless it is balanced with recovery and maintenance, in whatever form that may be.