Rick had back pain. As a construction worker in his mid-forties, the days when he could just jump out of bed feeling fine were behind him. Still, most days, he got through just fine. Occasionally his lower back pinged him with the notice that he had overdone it that day, but otherwise, he was fine. Until he wasn’t. Every company he had worked for had the mandatory safety presentations that reminded Rick he needed to use body mechanics properly to lift and move heavy objects. One day, he was tired and less alert. He bent forward to pick up a rock (ok, a small boulder) in his way and it was heavier than it looked. His back (already on notice from decades of hard physical labor) failed him. He yelped once, and had trouble standing up straight. The boss sent him home and he used a heating pad and took some aspirin. A couple days later, he went back to work, but because of the pain (which was now a constant fiery pressure in his lower back) he wasn’t able to get as much done and his work suffered. Within a few months, the pain became unbearable and Rick had to quit working altogether.
Jim also had back pain. Jim was a drywall installer in his late forties. He had noticed twinges of stiffness and pain in his back lately and he started to use ice packs when he got home each day. After a week or so, he noticed that the pain hadn’t gotten better. He made an appointment with a physical therapist and within a handful of sessions, was able to strengthen his back and learn techniques to avoid further injury. With careful attention to the way he moved at work, Jim was able to enjoy working for many more years.
What do you see as the main differences in these two stories? Well, in the first story, Rick ignores what his body is telling him. That isn’t to say that every time you have a minor discomfort, you should run to get medical attention. However, it is important to pay attention to pain, because it is trying to communicate important information. Pain means something needs to change and sooner rather than later. It is much simpler to acknowledge it and get it evaluated than to ignore it and potentially suffer long term damage.
You can have less pain and be more functional.
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