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two pix

2006-10-30 16:13:26.651557+00 by Dan Lyke 4 comments

For several weeks now, in the middle of the night I've woken up with an excruciating backache. Last week I went to the doctor, and got told "suck it up and walk more". It seems to have been better, but this morning it hurt enough that I got up, read my email, and then decided to go catch up with Bill and Jim (with dogs Whisky, Queenie and Vector) on their morning hike. This super grainy hand-held shot that's probably in the quarter to half-second range was the view back down into Lucas Valley from mid-way up Big Rock Ridge in the morning twilight.

And because it came off the other camera and I didn't download it 'til this morning, here's looking south along the coast towards the Bolinas peninsula from the Palomarin Trail.

[ related topics: Photography Dan's Life Nature and environment Bay Area ]

comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: made: 2006-10-30 18:27:16.999406+00 by: ebradway [edit history]

If you want, I can query Asha about it but I know from personal experience that my bed-time backaches are due to tightness in the psoas muscles. These connect the femur to the lower lumbar. They are shortest when you are sitting (the greatest American health-risk).

Fortunately, stretching them is easy (although painful when you really get it). The easiest stretch is a runner's lunge:

Front leg bent at 90 degrees with the knee directly over the ankle. Back leg extended. Try to start on your toes with the knee locked (or slightly bent). Engage your abdominals and try to reach your sacrum toward the back heel while bringing your pubic bone closer to your sternum (i.e., rock your pelvis down and forward). Once you isolate the psoas, you can drop to the knee in the back and bring your torso upright with hands resting on the front knee. Keep the pelvis moving.

For a more intense version, to the same but back up to a wall. Put some padding under the lower knee and try to keep it pressed right into the joint of the wall and floor. Try to swing the ankle and foot up the wall. Try to come upright (you probably won't be able to - at least, without tears in your eyes). That's your psoas!

Once you know how to isolate the psoas in a stretch, you can even hit it with a slight modification of the classic quad stretch. Standing on one leg, lift the other foot behind and catch it with the hand on the same side. Like the quad-stretch, you will draw your heel toward your buttocks. But wait, there's more! Draw the bent knee back down next to the standing knee (oooh - feel that?). Now, reach down with the bent knee as if you're going to stand on it. Think about rocking the pelvis as above, shortening the distance between the sternum and public bone. I like to do this on my stomach on the floor because it takes balance out of the equation and gives tactile feed back to the pelvis. On the floor, it's called ardha bekhanasa (half frog pose). Once you get the psoas nice and loose, you can do both feet at once:

#Comment Re: made: 2006-10-31 05:00:59.796225+00 by: ebradway

Asha (Doctor of Physical Therapy) suggests that you try to lay on your stomach when you read if you have the opportunity...

#Comment Re: made: 2006-10-31 14:21:17.187203+00 by: Dan Lyke

I'll try that. Thus far, every attempt at stretching in the evening has left me more sore at night. Yesterday morning's hike left my legs and abs sore (yay for straight up!), and I feel much better this morning.

Off to go bike up Tam now, hopefully with similar effects.

#Comment Re: made: 2006-10-31 21:22:07.529795+00 by: radix

What worked for me was strengthening the muscles of my back.

I picked them up from a chiropractic school website (pages have changed).

Basic idea is simple: lay flat on your stomach, raise the indicated parts 8-10 inches off the floor, hold for a slow 10 count.

  1. superman taking off: hold both hands up.
  2. superman landing: hold both feet up.
  3. superman in turbulence: right hand, left foot; repeat with left hand, right foot
  4. superman falling: hands and feet up.

It's real work.. that series of 5 execises gets me breathing hard every time. After about 6 weeks of that 3 times a week, I stopped having back pain.

Obviously if you have damaged vertebrae, check with your doctor.