There’s nothing like pain to make you feel old. Not pain from an injury or accident, but pain that comes out of nowhere and you can’t explain its origin. Could it be the way you’re sitting at work? Could it be the way your car seat is? Could it be the way you are sleeping!
The irony is that all of these positions I described above are supposed to be restful. I can understand getting hurt playing basketball or lifting weights in the gym, but sleeping?
Apparently, this is what happened to me. Unbeknownst to anyone, I have had lower back pain for the past 6 months. Mr. Fit guy has back pain? Yes. I kept quiet about it and held on to the fact that it would just go away. After a couple of months I began to research my lifestyle to find the culprit to no avail. The pain remained and it was now difficult to put on my shoes in the morning.
Then, a couple of nights ago, after dinner and the nighttime child routine, I climbed into bed and just knocked out in the position I landed. Didn’t get comfortable, didn’t adjust. I just landed and there I lay until morning.
I woke up the next morning expecting my usual back pain like a Billie Holiday song and to my amazement it was gone! I didn’t care that it was 4:30 am, I felt like doing cart wheels. I woke up my wife to share the good news with her, but she didn’t seem to share my enthusiasm.
I don’t sleep with a pillow, never have. The previous night, I was so tired that I fell asleep with a pillow on my head. That raised my neck just enough that it changed the angle in my lumber curve and it relieved any pressure that was causing my back pain.
A client of mine shared a similar story. When he sleeps, the only way he gets comfortable cuts off the circulation in his arm. It’s only matter of time that it eventually wakes him up just to start the process all over again. What a bummer.
The kind of pain that most people live with is the result of the body saying, “I can’t take it anymore…you’re going to have to change something here.” For so many years I slept a certain way that was hyper extending my back, but my body took it. Then one day it said, “Enough.” Of course this is all hindsight.
This raises many questions. What routines are you following that will perhaps give you pain later? What position are you holding for long periods of time, besides sleeping? I run one marathon a year and I’m now going on my 14th marathon. Could it be that right now my body can take it, but one day it is going to say stop? Is a knee replacement in my future? Scary.
There are no easy answers to these questions. We can only respond to what our bodies tell us and make sure we are within the parameters that medical research has provided. Blood pressure: 120/80, check. Total cholesterol: under 200, check. Blood glucose: 120 or below, check. Waist line: men under 40 inches women under 38, check.
We are relegated to stay within those boundaries to give ourselves a fighting chance. We can’t focus on what we cannot change, like hereditary factors. But if we are not within the parameters that research has shown to increase longevity and quality of life, there’s no reason to sound the alarm until we do.
One thing is for sure…wait for it….EXERCISE!