Unrelenting pain. The bane of every athlete. Especially one in a physically demanding sport.
But there is always light at the end of every tunnel.
Every pain can be cured.
This is a recount of my recovery from lower back pain, and I hope it serves as a beacon of hope to others who are suffering from the same thing.
How my back pain began
I first noticed my pain in my lower back which started off as a mild ache when doing cheerleading stunts. Slowly it developed into worse pain and started affecting me in all aspects of life.
From training in cheerleading or gymnastics to daily activities such as standing up or even lying down, I was always plagued by pain.
Unsuccessful attempts to recover from pain
Coming from a sports science background, I tried various means within my knowledge to solve it from dynamic stretching to myofascial releases. But alas, nothing would make this mysterious pain go away.
The funny thing? I don’t even know what caused it in the first place.
I was absolutely stumped. Never before have I had I pain for which I couldn’t understand where it came from, or at least take actions to make it better.
I’m no stranger to injuries and pain, having dealt with my own and that of my team members for many years. But none of them have ever been as elusive to recovery as this.
No treatments seem to help
I then took to seeking professional help from various specialist who tried many methods but to no avail.
Electrotherapy was one of the first things I tried. For those unfamiliar, it involves sending electrical currents into the skin to promote pain relief. While it felt comforting during the process, within an hour after my treatment, my pain returned in full force.
I then decided to seek a more traditional approach in acupuncture. Once again, for the uninitiated, this treatment involves the insertion of tiny needles into various points of your body, which are meant to promote pain relief and recovery. This too felt extremely relaxing during the treatment but did nothing for my actual recovery as the pain crept back a few hours later.
I was disappointed with the lack of results as my pain continued to affect my mood and life daily. Would I go on to live my life with this pain haunting me? Would I have to give up the sport that I loved?
Can exercise really cure lower back pain?
One night on a pain fueled desperation, I stumbled upon chiropractor Jesse’s website and decided to drop by for a visit. I had exhausted every other option I knew of and the promise of being pain free in 4-7 sessions was extremely tempting.
On my first visit, I was asked many questions pertaining to my lifestyle as well as going through various movement assessments to assess the severity and extent of my pain.
I started having doubts because unlike other professionals, he did not even physically feel my back to point out where he thought was the problem.
I expected some sort of passive recovery such as massages or muscle unknotting, but he did none of that. Instead, I was given exercises to do which he said would help me recover.
Pain is not always bad for you.
It was confusing to me because exercises hurt more. I could not believe that creating more pain was a good thing. But with no other options left, I decided to give it a shot.
Every day, in the comfort of my own home, I would diligently do the exercises, no matter how tired or in pain I felt. I kept telling myself that my recovery was worth anything.
Strength training improves recovery from pain
In just about 2 weeks’ time, I started noticing small improvements. The degree of pain that I felt was getting smaller. This was the first time any treatment had managed to mitigate my pain!
Even better, the relief was not temporary. Unlike the previous recovery attempts, this relief from pain lasted throughout the day.
I was happy to head back with the good news. Upon returning for my next session, I was prescribed exercises that created more pain than the previous ones. But hey, if they worked before, they would work better this time.
And work they did. My determination to recover got me powering through the exercises daily and this time, in just a week, I noticed more significant improvements. Actions that used to hurt before no longer did.
It took time and effort to see results.
Pleasantly surprised by the effectiveness of this unconventional approach, I returned for my third visit hungry for more recovery.
This time, the exercises I had to do no longer hurt that bad. A sure sign that I was on my way to full recovery. Jesse had managed to strengthen me to a point where daily activities no longer caused pain. It was time to move on to functional strength to prevent such injuries in the future.
I still had some reservations and shyness about going to the gym as I did not want to be perceived as weak while I was doing light rehab exercises. Jesse was extremely understanding and altered the exercises to suit the equipment and space I had available at home.
Over the next two sessions, and with the diligent performance of the prescribed exercises daily, I managed to achieve a full recovery and return to my sport in full capacity. I had never been happier.
Even after my full recovery, I continued to do exercises recommended by Jesse to further strengthen my back, lest it gets injured again. By this point, I was a firm believer that strength training not only helps you to recover from pain, but can also prevent future injuries.
Realising how exercise can combat pain
Looking back, it makes a lot of sense that exercise can help reduce pain symptoms in the long run and help prevent future injuries. While I never expected it then, I’m happy that I stuck to it and saw it through the end.
If you have been plagued by pain, I plead you to give strength training a chance to help you recover. Do not be intimidated by the pain at first, it’s a temporary hurdle on the road to recovery.
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Frustrated by the lack of results-driven and ethical chiropractic clinics in Singapore, Chiropractor Jesse Cai found Square One Active Recovery to deliver meaningful and sustainable pain solutions.
Our goal? To make our own services redundant to you.