Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Walking Wounded

Once every few years, I'll do something to throw my back out. The first time was in my 40's when I bent over to pick up a pencil, and couldn't straighten up for an hour  (my face was stuck within licking distance of the dog and I was too impaired to push her away. 60 minutes of 'sit', 'lie down', 'stop it, damn it').

This time I'm able to move, but I've been in pain and had some difficulty standing up from chairs for 3 days. It's gradually improving, but I had to be helped off the ice tonight as I felt fine walking, but couldn't stroke more than halfway round the rink or extend my legs while stroking.  Cruella just sent me home.

The exact problem has always been unidentified but it's probably an iliotibial band problem, plus a chronic case of 'snapping hip'. There's tests to identify the really bad stuff (herniated discs has clearly been eliminated and it's not piriformis syndrome either), so I'm stuck with the 'it will get better with time' treatment. Time for home remedies!

Fortunately, my pain is your gain. Stuck with an annoying pain in the lower back and hip? Here's some stretches that have worked for me.

Although these stretches are directed at piriformis syndrome, I've found figure 18 (below) to be amazingly effective over the years whenever my back pain pops up.
Piriformis stretch—Supine
I cross the leg on the sore side over the leg on the good side.
I sigh with relief
Since I also have 'snapping hip' (a popping in the hip when doing certain rotations with the leg while it's in extension) I have to take care of that too. The Army (!) has a whole document on this, which you can download here. (Note the overlap with the piriformis syndrome stretches, those things have so many applications!).
I think this problem popped up for me because of Hurricane Sandy. Since I wasn't on my regular schedule, I neglected my daily stretching regimen, and I'm paying for it. 

The internet is useful in finding these helpful home remedies for problems like this. I've rounded up a few for you to look at, but if you have similar issues, just google a description and root around in the web pages until you find something promising.  At the very worst, if you try a stretch and it causes more pain, you know it's time to stop. At the best, if you find the right stretch---ah, it's wonderful.


  1. You probably could benefit from a foam roller. My personal trainer (aka the Dominatrix) really encourages rolling on the IT band after every skate. It is somewhat painful to do so initially but does get better/easier the more you do it. The figure 4 stretch is also a very good stretch to do and can be done sitting or lying down. Hope you are more mobile and back on the ice soon!

    1. I've been looking at some foam roller exercises. I just never thought I'd need them til I was older. Like in my 70s--I heard 70 is the new thirty....but now it looks like 70 is the new 70.

    2. LOL! I think the foam roller is good no matter what your age. I am not much younger than you and had been using one sporadically for about 6 years. Since starting to skate 7 months ago I have gotten much more diligent about using it regularly.

  2. Thanks for posting this! I too have back issues off and on, some of these links looks super helpful.

  3. Feel better!!! I once went to an adult week and hurt my already bad back the day of orientation. Spent the next 6 days doing a shot of brandy, 4 ibuprofen, 1 Tylenol3 and heat packs in order to skate. By day 3, I forgot about the pain and wondered if I was developing a drinking problem!

    Seriously, take it easy and get well soon.