The hip bone is connected to the neck bone…

Along the way of my fitness quest I managed to hurt my back.  I injured myself in May and have been in pain/uncomfortable since.  Initially my doctor advised what can basically be called watchful waiting, prescribing an anti-inflamatory and muscle relaxer to try to help the healing along and relieve some of the discomfort I was experiencing.  After 8 weeks of this I went back to the doctor and he shrugged and said, “Well, 90% of people with muscle strains like yours get better in a couple of months.  You seem to be in the 10% who don’t,” and he sent me off with a referral to physical therapy.

I’ve done PT before.  I was diagnosed with a prolapsed disk in my neck in 2008 and once the doctors determined that it wasn’t serious enough to require an invasive intervention I was sent to see the physical therapist, and she worked wonders with me, eliminating the pain and discomfort I was feeling and getting my neck back into alignment.  So, I was pretty confident that the PT I saw yesterday was going to be able to figure out a way to get rid of the pain and discomfort I’m feeling in my back now.

Nick, the PT I saw yesterday watched me walk, had me do some range of motion tests and examined my back.  He, rather unsurprisingly, noted that on the left side of my spine, where the discomfort is centered, my muscles are tight and swollen.  What he discovered that did surprise me a little is that my hip flexors in both legs are much tighter and much less flexible than they should be.  He has suggested that there was probably no one incident that led to the problem I’ve got now, but rather that my inflexible hips have resulted in me overworking my lower back to compensate whenever I exercise or engage in any sort of demanding physical activity.

So, the prescription is a set of exercises and stretches designed to loosen up my hips as well as strengthen my back, which is much weaker than it should be, with a weekly check-in to see how I’m progressing.  I’m hopeful that this will work out pretty much the same way the issues with my neck did, and that the exercises and stretches will relieve the pain and prevent it from coming back.

The funny thing, and it’s a thing worth remembering, is how this has reminded me that every part of my body is connected to every other part of my body.  My neck injury was brought to a crisis by a pair of cracked ribs and a broken bone in my right hand that led me to favor one side of my body more than the other when I was training to ride my first century in 2007.  This back injury was most likely the result of me using incorrect form doing strength training because my overly tight hip flexors wouldn’t allow me to do the moves with the proper form.

It’s a good idea for all of us to be aware that if one part of your body isn’t working right, eventually that will have consequences for some other part of your body.

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