There comes a time in your life when you’ve just had enough; when the physical pain renders you useless, the mental torture of ignorance dumbs you down, and the feeling of uselessness brings down your self-worth.
Fortunately my back pain hasn’t brought me to these places, but over the past few months I have been to the brink enough times to know that if I don’t do something now I have a future even worse than described.
While not in any life threatening pain at the age of 26 standing at six feet, five inches tall, I was concerned enough by my failures to find a solution and deteriorating long-term outlook of myself that I realized it was time to seek outside help before things got worse.
To keep with the apparent theme of the last few posts on this blog, I am going to review another major health and lifestyle shift I took today: I went to a chiropractor for the first time.
There has got to be some connection between my renewed writing habit and recent grasp over my health and lifestyle. Either that or I am not creative enough to write outside of my own self yet, but then again I don’t see your name at the top of this page.
See, when you are in pain your actions and mentality tend to reflect your body’s state. If you are a naturally determined person you will not want to be in pain, so you will use that determination to find a solution to your pain. In other words your pain will fuel you to action.
Pain, however, is not a sustainable fuel source and over time when no lasting improvements seem to stick it becomes a crippling source that can destroy you from the inside out.
The same willpower you had at the beginning turns into a seething hatred, and the loops you’ve gone through to end up nowhere makes the mental pain even worse.
So goes mental so goes the physical.
There is a fine line between being determined and hard-headed, and if you are a man you are more inclined to suffer silently and are less likely to seek out help, oftentimes until the problem has grown larger.
Fortunately as I have grown older, the negative results from this kind of suppression across different events has taught me to become at least a little more proactive with pain in my life, and the beliefs I have embodied about creating something higher than myself have led me to refuse anything that gets in the way of this achievement.
To achieve a creation larger than yourself is what Dr. Daniel Bockmann and I discussed in his chiropractic office today, and as I walked away from his office with a reopened body, I too felt a part of my mind that had been sealed by pain reopened as well.
As opens the body so opens the mind.
In my search for chiropractors online I admittedly decided on Dr. Bockmann fairly quickly.
In my world where doctors start at the default position of not truly giving a shit about you and only want to enslave you to prescription medications, Dr. Bockmann’s promises of fixing the root of the underlying problem and a stated goal of never having to see you again really hooked me in to read more, but that wasn’t what convinced me.
Call it a bias from being a writer and software creator, but the amount of free written and videos content available on his site (that he personally made) convinced me that he was not only a knowledgeable man, but that he has genuine intentions of helping people.
That, and to see he accepts Bitcoin as a payment option all but sealed the deal in my mind. Now before you call me naive, it was not the fact that he accepts Bitcoin that convinced me, but for what it represented: that this was a doctor who has his finger on the pulse of the less common and interesting things in society who may also mirror that in his practice.
In only an hour of discussion and unbelievably satisfying neck and back adjustments I learned more about my body than I had in months of self-experimentation and failed solutions.
All that was needed to heal the psychical was a few bodily adjustments, and all that was needed to heal the mental was a proof of what is possible and the knowledge to sustain that certainty.
I also left with a personal evaluation and exercises that will help me sustain a loose and pain free body as a 6’5″ software developer that I’d like to share with you in hopes it can help you too can better the quality of your own life.
Exercises and Stretches for Hips and Neck Tightness
As another quick lesson, sometimes the pain you experience is not the direct problem. In my case my neck and back pain were coming from my hamstrings and hips. How the hell was I supposed to figure that out?
In the words of Dr. Bockmann himself:
Exercise #1: Wall Angels
Stand with forearms vertical and shoulders retracted as far as tolerated. Staying in this plane, arc slowly upwards then lower back down, tucking elbows in at the sides. 5 slow reps, as need throughout day for neck and shoulder pain.
Exercise #2: Lateral Neck Stretch
While seated, grip the edge of your seat next to your hip with one hand, then lean your head and torso the opposite direction until a good stretch is felt. Maintain stretch for one minute on each side, as needed throughout the day, for neck pain and tightness.
Exercise #3: Neck Extension Stretch
Lay on your back in bed, with the base of your skull hanging just off the edge of the bed. Relax in this position for 5-10 minutes, daily if possible, to apply a light traction stretch to the neck, and to help restore normal neck postural curvature.
Exercise #4: Bicep Stretch
Start with fingers horizontal on the wall at shoulder height, then turn your chest away from the wall, keeping elbow aimed horizontally, until you feel a stretch. Maintain an aggressive but tolerable stretch for one minute on each side, several times a day, as it seems helpful.
Exercise #5: Doorway Hamstring Stretch
Lay on your back in a doorway with on leg flat on the floor and the other propped up on the door frame, knee locked. Start with your propped leg at an angle that gives you a moderate stretch, then periodically scoot your butt closer to the door frame, keeping both legs straight, until you’ve reached your maximum tolerable stretch. 4 minutes per leg, daily until you can easily reach 90 degrees.
Stretches: Foam Roller IT Bands and Glutes
Perform these drills every THREE days, until comfortable to roll all areas. Start on your side with hip on foam roller. Roll up & down from hip to knee, focusing on the most painful areas. Perform for 2 minutes per IT band, and 2 minutes per glute, every THREE days, until comfortable to roll all areas.
- Read more about IT band friction syndrome here
- Read more about foam rolling here
- Use a lacrosse ball/baseball/softball to do self massage on your hips. Spend 2 minutes rolling the most painful areas, every three days, until comfortable to roll all areas.
Bonus: How to fix your workstation posture
My journey to a long and pain free life got easier today, but there is always work to do. You will know how I am doing by the ferocity of the work I unleash into the world, and if you ever find yourself in a place where you feel there is no answer you just have to remember that the truth is out there waiting for you to find it, you just have to catch a small breath amidst the pain to see where you need to go next.