3 habits I changed after two weeks of horrible back pain

A week ago, I was leaving work for the day, and bent down to pick up my work bag.

I was then hit with an excruciatingly painful back spasm on my left side.

How do I describe the pain… have you ever had a charley horse? You know, when you’re sleeping, and in the middle of the night, your calf muscle starts to twist and you’re lying there almost crying from the pain and you wish you could black out?

Yeah, it’s like that.

Only in your back.

I was horrified that this was happening at work. I hobbled to my car ready to make a quick getaway home and then I realized: I could not get into the driver seat of my car. You see, once you have a back spasm, every little movement of your back causes more pain.

I had to gently ease myself backwards into my car, butt first instead of leg first. Pulling the seat belt strap across my body took three tries. Even taking my foot on and off the clutch pedal was painful, and I prayed I would make it home without causing an accident.

I’ve been waylaid at home ever since.

It’s been seven days now. During that time, I’ve had seven more spasms. They last about 10 seconds and the pain is excruciating.

Omigod. What caused this?

I Googled possible back pain symptoms and learned that, based on my current habits, I was kind of a disaster waiting to happen! It’s a miracle that it’s taken this long for me to sustain a serious injury.

So once I’m healed and can safely exercise again, here are some of the habits I’m going to take up.

Three easy things to do to minimize back pain
  • Drink more water. I always thought I drank plenty of water throughout the day, but now, I’m going to make a more conscious effort to track my consumption through Fitbit. My goal is 64 ounces every day of plain water. (Back spasms can be caused by dehydration.)
  • Get a sit/stand desk. My mom’s been telling me since I started my working life that I’m too sedentary. And since I blog professionally and personally, that’s a whole lotta sitting. For hours on end. Getting a sit/stand desk, together with the Apple Watch’s hourly reminders to stand up, will be so helpful.
  • Stop holding the rails on the treadmill. I actually think this is the singular reason for my back pain (and my “frozen shoulder” pain earlier in the year, which required a ton of physical therapy). And here I thought I was being smart, holding on to the rails to stay safe. BUT IT’S NOT. It throws your body mechanics off. When you’re on a treadmill, stand up straight and let your arms swing naturally. That’s it.

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2 Responses

  1. Laurie says:

    Hi Jennie,
    I am an old Office Talley reader who was googling around to see if you still had a web presence. Glad to find your site, and I can so relate to this post! I got out off bed a couple of weeks ago, off of a too squishy mattress, and totally pulled something. I didn’t have the spasms for as many days as you did, but couldn’t even lie in my bed for almost too weeks. I even bought a new mattress which is too hard.

    I was starting to do better, but then was in a car accident last week, rear ended by a young kid late for class. So I see some physical therapy in my future.

    Anyway, time for an Office reunion, on air, or in Scranton! I was there for the parade and other festivities that day, and it was so amazing. I still think of it as one of the best days ever.

    • tanster says:

      Hi Laurie! Awww, thanks for being an OfficeTally reader! Still miss that show like crazy. Sorry to hear about your back issues and car accident, hope you feel better now. I got physical therapy last year for a shoulder mobility problem and it worked wonders. Love PT! Agree, I will always have super fond memories of Scranton. Thanks for stopping by! xo

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