How did I rehab my back?

How did I rehab my back?
After injuring my back, learn how I rehabbed it myself to get through all of the excruciating back pain.  By LeMoyne Kelvin Silas CFT MHT

First and foremost, I will tell you this.  I am not a physician or chiropractor.  I am not telling you exactly what you have to do if your back hurts.  I have no knowledge of your back's condition or what it feels like.  Pretty much most of what I tell you are common sense principals but most people don't follow them because 
most people are too busy to feel better.

I am never too busy to feel better.  It's not fun having an injury especially a sore back.  I pinched a nerve in my back when I was about 21 so trust me, I do remember how PAINFUL it is and how it really HURTS!  But I say this with the utmost sincerity, "I deserve to feel good!"  After injuring my back I surely wasn't feeling too good but I was determined to feel good.  Feeling good was my dominant intention.
I recall not being able to get out of bed and just trying to walk across the room made me want to scream.  And I have been there since then.  I sit here right now with some ice on my back but how it feels right now is nothing compared to when I pulled it last fall.
OWEEEEEEEE!!!  Yes it was very painful.

Thank God I was an athlete through highschool and nevertheless, I have a lot of self discipline.  People always tell me about how their back is sore and usually it isn't anything major such as a ruptured disc or cracked vertebra in the spine, herniated disc but usually it is just pulled or strained tissue that comes from lack of flexibility.  Or in my case overexertion and doing some yard work and shoveling, moving things outside.  I have pulled it even when lifting.  Many of us have.  Last fall I was in severe PAIN and yes it hurt to walk.  Going to see a chiropractor back then would have been an expensive option but trust me, going to see Chad my chiropractor and Miss Dynatron the deep tissue muscle stimulator (love you girl! wink wink)  would have been wonderful but yes a very expensive option especially trying to go twice a week for a month.  OUCH!  So what did I do?  And how did I bounce back so quickly?  How did I recover so fast?  Well also thankfully it snowed that week and school was canceled where I attend college so I had more time and didn't have to walk so much.  So I took action!

I took a couple of weeks off from weight lifting if I recall (yes only 2 weeks) 
And when I returned to weight training I took it easy.

Step 1

Ice Ice Baby!  Cold Ice Ice Baby!!!

Ice for the first 24 hours and then rotating it with heat.  I generally followed  this rotation:
Ice for 20-30 min and then off for 90 min (about an hour and a half)
Truthfully you should only use ice for about 10-15 min  and I have also read 20 min
but can do so on the hour every hour. 
I am very daring.  I quite often kept the ice on my back more often than this.
I am not telling you how long to keep ice on your back.  If I had to, I would say 10 to 20 minutes as I have previously said.  I also use a big ice bag like what you would get from a Speedway.  Yes the big 10 lb bag.  I keep one in my freeze and have used this same bag over and over and over for 5 or 6 years I think. 
Let's just say that I get my money's worth for the $4 or so I spent on it! LOL

How often??
I used ice probably honestly 5 to 6 times a day for the first few days.  I am not totally certain but this is a guesstimate.  Yes this all sounds like a pain but which is the greater pain?  The pain in your back or the pain of doing what you need to do to feel good?  For me, the back pain was greater.  Sure doing all of this self rehab is not always convenient but the payoff is that is is totally free!  I cut back on the ice to just a few times a day after a week I think.  How often all depends on you and your injury and when you are feeling better.
A word of caution!!!  If you are suddenly feeling better then you still need to keep rehabbing your back! Many people tend to get lazy as soon as they feel just a tiny bit better and then they end up pulling their back a few days later and it's back to square one then and starting all over!

Why ice first?
Ice first because ice reduces the inflammation and helps to reduce the pain.  Ice should almost always be used first and within the first 24 hours with injuries.  Hey Kel the ice is brrrrrrr cold!!!  Quit being a woosy!  Ice is cold!  Duh!!!  Yes I know.  Do you want to feel good?  Yes or no?  The choice is yours.  
I want to feel good. And yes you should wrap the ice in a towel before applying it on your back. If you are an athlete and have access to a cold tub then thumbs up!  I hear they are great!

Step 2
Apply heat to your back!

Secondly on day two (that is on day two and not day one in most cases)  You must apply heat.  You can get a heat pack, hot water bottle, sit in the shower (but that is a lot of hot water but you could twice a day)  
Fortunately for me, I do have a hot tub.  I think I used it twice a day that week.  Truthfully you want to apply heat (google hot the heat pack should be if this concerns you)   One can apparently apply heat for 20 min and I would also use heat on a rotation off about 60-90 min.  My hot tub gets up to 113-114 degrees (yes really) so I generally only sit in it 10-15 min anyways.  I also used the shower massager in a hot shower.
Applying heat helps your back to feel better and loosens it up.  After 24 hours I have always heard, a person can apply ice or heat depending on which feels better.  I don't personally have a heat pack but my dad used to use a hot water bottle or heating pad.  Whatever works best for you.

There were some days that the heat didn't feel the best on my back and sometimes it was just how I was sitting in my hot tub. Some days the ice made my back feel stiff.  Well ice tends to do that lol!  It is ice!

Shouldn't I use heat first?  Heat feels better and ice is cold!
The answer to that question most of the time is simply no.  It is is rule of thumb and ask any athletic trainer, physician, or chiropractor, within the first 24 hours, you need ice.  Ice is very important!

Step 3
Rotate ice and heat regularly!

After 24 hours I have always heard, a person can apply ice or heat depending on which feels better.  I put ice on my back upon waking and then after I got off my exercise bike (I still road my exercise bike which didn't bother me)  then I would get in my hot tub for 10-15 min.  After I got out of the hot tub, then stretching or yoga, then ice.  After the ice then I would hit the shower and let the hot water beat down on it.  Then after I got out of the shower, then it was more ice ice baby.  Usually I took a break after the second batch of ice.  That break wasn't much longer than 2 hours.  Then it was more ice and more stretching.  I took another hot shower before bed.  By the end of the day, I had usually applied ice easily 4 to 5 times and heat 3 to 4 times.  It isn't one day that makes you feel better miraculously.  It is 1 day + 1 day + 1 day and you keep adding on by rehabbing yourself each and every day.  In other words, it's every day of the week and 21 days out of 3 weeks that allowed me to recover so quickly.  I rehabbed myself every day.

Step 4
Stretch and practice yoga!

Stretching helps to increase flexibility and to release any pain that has locked itself inside your muscles.  
If there is pain in your upper or lower back, shoulders, arms etc, then you can do some stretching and/or yoga to help release all the pain and tension.  Imagine making a tight fist.  Or make a tight fist right now. Well this is kind of what your pain is like.  Now squeeze it tighter and tighter (this is the pain in your back.  Sound familiar???)  Well then open up your hand and let the loose palm just relax.  Now wiggle your fingers a little and notice how good it starts to feel. You get the idea now??

I stretched in the morning and usually 3 times a day for 15 to 20 min in the morning and then 10 to 15 min later in the day or as long as I felt I needed it.  Now I will tell you something honestly. 
It hurts to stretch at first!  
Yes I know but notice how I said "at first".  And depending on the extent of your injury, how flexible your body is, and how often you practice yoga or do stretching, it may hurt to stretch and then you end up contemplating on if it helping or not. For example, a lot of people tend to think that chiropractors screw people up which is generally not the case most of the time.  The problem is that most people are not very flexible and their bodies are not used to being put in different positions and manipulated like they are.  I practice stretching and do yoga so I have never had any problems.

Ask your physician or chiropractor or research online for some helpful stretches for your injury if necessary. 
Ask your physician or chiropractor what is right for you!  I generally did a full body stretch and yoga in the morning quite often for 30 min.  Later in the day I usually just stretched my upper and lower back and legs.  I did all of this regularly for their first week.
Stretch and hold for 15 to 30 seconds (45 seconds could be idea but don't push it)
Ease into it.  If you can only do it for 5 to 10 seconds then start with that.  You just do what you can and 
get better and better every day.  
There is an Asian word Kaizan which means simply 'getting better and better every day'.
Maybe the first day you start with only stretching and holding for 8 to 10 seconds and after a few days or a week you can build up to holding positions/poses even longer.  You will improve.  Your flexibility will improve and you will find yourself feeling a lot better soon hopefully. Just stay faithful.
No one is hurrying you or rushing you.

Step 5
Be very very patient!  Keep this all up for awhile!

Yes as I mentioned earlier, you must be very very patient. I felt great after about 2 weeks and although I kept on stretching and rotating heat and ice, my back suddenly got tender again and was hurting.  I was very persistent however and kept up with my self rehab.  I did cut back the second week to ice generally 3 times a day and heat twice a day.  The stretching I faithfully did twice a day.  And again keep in mind, I wanted to feel good!  None of this is an overnight magic formula. You must be patient and persistent.  Rehabbing an injury takes time.  For those of you who have day jobs or kids and are busy then you are going to have to slow down and make a temporary sacrifice. 

For example, you may need to get up an hour earlier to put ice on your back and stretch.  You may need to keep some ice in a cooler in your car to put on your back at work.  You may need to ask to take a 15 min break so you can stretch while at work or instead of sitting down all day, get up and stand or take a restroom break.  Instead of going to your kid's soccer practice or running back and forth to kid's events, you may need to find someone to take them so you can spend time stretching at home so that you will feel better in a couple of weeks and then you can return.  If not, then you end up risking your back being injured and sore, lots of pain and hurting for 6 to 8 weeks or longer.  Instead of going out to the sports bar with your friends on the weekend, you may need to stay home and rehab yourself.  While you are laying on the couch watching television, you could have some ice on your back.  
You need to take the necessary steps to allow yourself the time to help yourself recover and heal so that you are feeling much better and can get back to normal.  And I did this all in 3 short weeks!  

This was pretty much the exact plan of action that I followed to rehab my back.  
The exact times varied.  You do what you can but the key is to consistently do something.
What you do is up to you but this was my Plan of Action.
Ice, heat, stretching, rest.

7:00 am wake up and ice for about 20 min (first time)

7:45 am cardio for 20 min.

8:30 am my hot tub for 10-15 min (first heat)

8:55 am stretch and/or yoga for 20-30 min (first time)

9:25 am eat breakfast

9:45 am ice again 20-25 min (second time)

10:15 am take a hot shower with shower massager on my back (second heat)

12:30 pm ice again 20-25 min (third time)

1:30 pm stretch 10-15 min (second time)

Relax during this time.

4:00 pm ice again 20-25 min (fourth time)

6:00 pm stretch 10-15 min (third time)

8:00 pm take a hot shower (third time heat)

9:00 pm stretch 10-15 min (fourth time)

10:30 pm ice again (fifth time)

11:30 pm -12:00 am go to bed

One last tip!

Especially if you have had a back injury, you should continue with some kind of a regular stretching routine or yoga to improve your flexibility and will feel better.  Stress locks itself in your muscles and stretching and yoga helps to release it so that you can be free!  Make time to feel good!  You deserve happiness!
Take time to REST!  Which is also very important.  If you are used to being on the go then this is your time to slow down and may be God's way of making you slow down for awhile.  Learn to relax.  Resting is all part of the healing process.  Contact your physician or chiropractor if you need to.  
You may need medical attention or a prescription.  Please seek medical attention if you are in severe pain or think that you may have an injury.  Putting off seeing a physician is not a smart thing to do in many cases. You never know exacatly what may be wrong with you.  In many cases, people can rehab themselves.  
It all just takes a little discipline.  You can do it!  This is everything I did and it was all very helpful for me. 
I honestly only took pain relievers for 2 or 3 days and that's it.  Take a week or two off from the gym or working out because intense training can make your injury worse and slower the recuperation and rehabilitation that you are doing.  I still did light cardio on my exercise bike for 20 min during this time. 
If I could have given myself a massage then I would have.  I do have a hand held electric massager.)

Be blessed my friend!

LeMoyne Kelvin Silas

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