When we experience pain often going to a medical practitioner is the first action. However, a client wrote a testimonial about the affects of taking a steady approach to recovery, which included strengthening their core, instead of a possible surgical procedure. While our client recovered from their chronic back injury with core and strengthening exercises, we always recommend speaking to your doctor before choosing a course of action.
Strengthening Rather Than Surgery
Two years ago I had radiating pain down my left hip all the way to the ankle. The pain, on a scale of 1 to 10, was at a constant 6 to 7. Some days, if I had to do any significant walking, it was an 8 and I had to grit my teeth as I shuffled along, hunched over. In addition to not being able to walk for any significant amount of time I couldn’t stretch out my legs to sleep on my back. I was constantly taking pain relieving pills. Needless to say my quality of life for someone who was just barely over 40 years of age was miserable.
In order to get some relief I went to numerous medical practitioners which included acupuncture, chiropractic, massage, and physical therapy. I also received several spinal epidurals. All of these had temporary improvements, but nothing permanent. At one point a doctor told me that I was the perfect candidate for back surgery. While I was in pain most of the day, the one activity that didn’t cause pain was riding my bike – which to me was a major indicator of my problem, a muscle imbalance.
As an avid/amateur bike racer I was training (in my peak months) 12 to 17 hours a week. My job is sedentary and when I have a deadline looming I’m often at my desk, not getting up, for over eight hours. It wasn’t unusual for me to eat meals at my desk.
Instead of something drastic as surgery I continued to receive massages and started personal training sessions with Sam Smith. I slowly started to build my core strength, which is typically lacking in cyclists. My strength improved to a point that I could participate in advanced group core classes and even High Intensity Interval Training classes at Greenville Fitness and Rehab. I no longer have any pain in my left leg and can walk and stand. My cycling has improved, as well as my overall fitness. In fact I’m looking at participating in some mud runs and adventure races – something I couldn’t even dream of contemplating a couple of years ago.
While this approach was slow and steady that took a couple of years, I steadfastly believe it was the correct one. Surgery would have required rehabilitation with no assurances that it was even going to be successful. Surgery may be appropriate in some situations, however the slow and steady approach of strengthening supporting muscles in conjunction with massage is well worth trying first.