Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Oh, My Aching Back!

I don't write much about my clumsiness. And I don't intend to start doing so -- just know that I've broken several bones over the years and am constantly bruised from running into things. I will, however, share an embarrassing moment that took place today, just so I can dispense some ergonomics knowledge and pander for sore-back suggestions.

A few hours ago, I was going downstairs to get something off of my printer. We have carpeted stairs, but there's no handrail and we actually have a thin runner covering the steps to prevent my dog's black hair from being ground into our carpeting or trailing into our lower level (he's not allowed down there for those same reasons).

Today, I wasn't paying attention, and I tripped on the lining with about four stairs to go. I would've loved to have seen what I looked like as I fell, because somehow I landed around the corner from the stairs with my arms fully outstretched over my head. I was more shocked than hurt, but I immediately knew that my back would punish me for this little spill later in the day.

Thanks to what I'll term a "freak cheerleading practice accident," I broke a vertebrae in 1988 and have had the aches and pains of a ninety-year-old ever since. There was pretty much nothing they could do for my injury, except warn me to "not get pushed from behind or go on roller coasters for a while." Now here I am, twenty years later, sitting on my behind all day in front of a laptop, and let me tell you... my back no-likey this situation.

I've done everything I could to set up my writing area as ergonomically correct as possible. I spent mucho bucks on an awesome Leap chair after learning about and trying out several different brands (here's a secret: that Aeron chair The Man bought for you isn't really that great!). I have adjusted its settings so that my feet rest comfortably on the ground, there are three finger-widths between my knees and the end of the seat cushion, the back is flexible... etc., etc. My wireless keyboard is at elbow-height so that I'm not having to tilt my wrists when I type. I have a laptop stand that raises my screen to the right eye-level so that my head and neck don't have to crane up or downward.

But still, despite all of these efforts, my upper back hurts every night. Yes, just like your grandma, I can even predict when it's going to rain simply from the level of aching in my previously broken bones.

Were you going to suggest getting a massage? I've done that, too. "I don't even know how you can walk," replied one of my masseuses after spending some time with all of the knots across my shoulder blades. Sure, I could get rub-downs more often, but they're not exactly cheap and I know that the root of my problem is my high-strung personality.

Here's my plan for saving my body from any further damage: I just need to calm the heck down and stop ruining my perfect writing set-up by tensing my shoulders reflexively all day, forgetting to take breaks, refusing to stretch each morning and night, and being reluctant to try out a yoga DVD (I do NOT do group classes at the gym, so don't even try to convince me on that front).

I know that if I took a few minutes to go through some poses or stretches, it would help immensely. Any other ideas out there? (And no, I will never go to a chiropractor -- I'm too scared and pretty much pass out at the thought of it -- so skip that suggestion... but I'm open to just about anything else!)

It's now time for my dog's daily walk... I'm going to remember to suck my stomach in and stand up straight for the entire 20 minutes - no more slouching for me! Now I just need to concentrate on not slipping (it's raining out) or tripping (uneven sidewalks abound in my 'hood!)



Anonymous said...

I know you said this is a no go, but my friend has suffered back pain for years, and she finally went to a chiropractor. She felt really embarrassed, but the relief she felt afterwards was huge, and she raved about the wonders he worked. Try it!!

Anonymous said...

oooh yes, i LOVE my chiropractor... i was terrified to go, but it has made a HUGE difference...

... and please please please please please please PLEASEEEEE elaborate on this
"freak cheerleading practice accident"!!!!!

pleaseeeeee :)

your friend from cali (lost and twilight lover)

Tori said...

Before I read about your aversion to gym classes my first thought was YOGA. I have been practicing for 7 years. It saves my back, which has been tweaky for years. For real. You can't rely on a DVD b/c your alignment could be off w/o help from a real live teacher. Here's proof it works to maintain my back health. During my first trimester I was feeling so sick that my yoga practice was on hold. My back started aching four weeks into it. Now that I'm in the 2nd trimester, back at yoga class, back is better. It really works! I know a great teacher in Chicago if you want a referral. DO IT!!!

Anonymous said...

Tori is right, Yoga will help you. I understand not being into the group class thing, but you really need to do it in a class with a qualified instructor who knows what they are doing. A dvd won't cut it with yoga. Try it, I promise you will be glad you did!

Anonymous said...

Yoga is good... Pilates is better.

If you're going to do Yoga, I recommend an Anusara Certified yoga instructor ( I've done several different types of yoga, and Anusara is the best for teaching proper alignment and healing. I found this certified instructor in the Chicago area... Geri Bleier @

Her bio is at

With Pilates, you can do private lessons (hence you will avoid your group fitness class), but be prepared to pay $60 - $70 for a private with a certified instructor. I took my certification exam at Chicago River North Pilates ( I'm not sure if this is close to you or not. I'm sure there are many other pilates studios in Chicago... just make sure your instructor has completed a comprehensive equipment training certification course of at least 500 hours.

Hope this helps...
Your crazy Big Sis in The D

maikib said...

ah-- i feel for you; if it makes you feel any better, i took a beauty of a spill down the stairs yesterday-- again (i am a walking disaster... i too walk into things and have bruises i don't remember getting). i didn't fare as well... bruised tailbone, bruised back and the skin stripped off of my left arm from elbow to about mid-forearm. i can't move today!!

Pritch! said...

mystery solved! there is a "kristyn" from california and a "kristyn" from detroit! i feel so much better now, and know i'm not going crazy.

e - if you are going to start with yoga, i suggest either a "yoga for abs" workout or pilates. both of these will strengthen your core muscles (read: abs and surrounding areas), which will take a lot of the stress of of your back.

i will also throw in my 2 cents for chiropractors. it used to scare the crap out of me too, but since my chiropractors office offers massages (which is paid for by my insurance - woo!), i go monthly and wow what a difference. i have arthritis, knee problems, you name it; and nothing has made me feel better than the chiro.

- kristyn from DETROIT!!

Anonymous said...

hahahahah sorry kristYN from detroit! just to confuse everyone even more, my whole family is from detroit! :) but i am from cali, born and raised! i'll make sure i clarify when i post!!!! :D

*kristYn from CALI*

Anonymous said...

oh and e... PLEASE please please please pleaseeee tell us the freak cheer accident!!! :)

i'm sure both of us kristYn's want to know :D

*kristyn from CALI*

p.s. i broke a girls nose once during cheer practice... oops :O ... and i am def. more klutzy than you!

Pritch! said...

kristYn from cali:

So funny! e sent me a message a while ago on facebook about twilight, and i was like "huh? i don't know what this is!" she said "i'm so sorry! it was from kristyn so i assumed it was you!" obviously it was meant for you :)

i know there are other kristYn's out there, but come'on, what are the odds? lol

kristyn from DETROIT!!

Pritch! said...

and e, yes, i do want to hear about the freak cheer accident!

i myself am super accident prone too. i wasn't talented enough to be a cheerleader, but i was in marching band and i MAJORLY sprained my ankle, and was on crutches. thats right; i sprained my ankle while ... walking.

this was the first in a string of long, stupid injuries :)

Anonymous said...


it looks like you're gonna have two verrrry disappointed kristYn's if we don't hear this cheer story soon! i think by now it deserves it's own post, don't you think kristYn from detriot?!

*kristYn from CALI*

Anne said...

I've had back problems since I was 12, and have tried it all (still with no relief). The WORST I ever did was use a father was a doctor and he even said not to go to one. I should have listened. The first couple of visits sounded and felt good, the third one, he had me in such pain, that I was in tears, and could't even get off the table. No more chiropractors for me!!!