“Low back pain is the single leading cause of disability worldwide”
Back pain affects 8 out of 10 people at some point in their lives, and on average health care expenditures for individuals with back pain have been estimated to be about 60% higher than those without. In overall dollar terms, Americans spend at least $50 billion each year on back pain.
Those are impressive statistics. As a super active, life-long athlete and professional yoga teacher, I never thought I’d be part of those statistics, but I am.
My process looked like this: Denial, anger, acceptance, resolve, hopelessness, more anger, blah blah blah. You get the idea. At one point I had spent a few thousand dollars on various doctors and body workers. Despair began to gnaw at me. It seemed nothing was working.
It wasn’t until I rededicated myself to the full scope of a consistent Yoga Tune Up® practice that I was finally able to move normally again. My own (ongoing) recovery journey has its own Sankalpa and it sounds like this:
- I accept that I’ve got “a few back things going on”
- I am über-conscientious and unremitting in my posture: I sit differently, I stand and walk differently, I sleep differently and yes, I practice yoga and exercise differently.
Because of the looming threat of pain and because I don’t wish to take medications or undergo surgery, I am never “off.” I am never slumped over in my chair at my computer. I am determined to restructure my body to be better, stronger and more stable. Those who know me see the changes; it’s working.
I’m not claiming to be as nimble as I used to be and I’m not saying that my back doesn’t still hurt sometimes, because it does. However, now I can kick a soccer ball and referee my son’s games. I am thrilled to finally feel solid enough to resume commuting around New York City by bike. I can also take yoga classes again, but here’s the kicker: I limit my range of motion. These days when I exercise or practice yoga my primary goal is to “do no harm.” That means no more nose-to-knee straight leg forward bends, no more full wheels and no more ego-driven twists. My motivation to “drop back” or wrap my leg around my neck is long gone. This type of movement just doesn’t serve my body well at this point in my life.
You know what’s so great about this blog? My pain story is not so unique. Over the last several years, I have participated in, assisted and taught many different YTU classes, privates, workshops, immersions and teacher trainings. There’s a whole bunch of super smart people who are tuning themselves back into balance and normalcy with this practice. I’m a big fan. The entire YTU practice is indispensable but Jill’s Self Massage for Lower Back video (posted below) is one of my all-time favorite quickies for an aching back at the end of a long day.
 Mehra M, Hill K, Nicholl D, Schadrack J. “The burden of chronic low back pain with and without a neuropathic component: a healthcare resource use and cost analysis.” J Med Econ. 2011 Dec 5.
 Project Briefs: Back Pain Patient Outcomes Assessment Team (BOAT). In MEDTEP Update, Vol. 1 Issue 1, Agency for Health Care Policy and Research