As I write this, I'm laying on the living room floor. My computer is in front of me, a newly-purchased heating pad is strapped to my back, and I'm doing my best to get some writing done despite the protests of some lower back muscles that are clearly irritated with me for doing who knows what. As a physician, I'm well aware that most people in the U.S. experience back pain at least once in their lives, and that back pain is so common as to rank as the No. 1 reason why people go see the doctor... somehow I just didn't think this would apply to me.
As the pain lets up a bit, the irony strikes me. I spend much of my time helping others understand all of the simple things they can do to live healthier lives. Yet up until little over 48 hours ago, I spent a total of absolutely no time paying attention to how to prevent this pain in my back. And I even have the benefit of having an orthopedic surgeon husband who has told me (at least 100 times) to stretch my back, strengthen my core, bend at the knees, and otherwise refrain from partaking in known back-straining activities.
It now occurs to me that I have fallen into the very same trap I actively try to help others avoid: putting off until tomorrow what could be done today to live a healthier life. Or, in my case, keep my back from going out.
In the case of my back, I just didn't commit to doing what I knew was recommended to prevent this predicament. And now I'm paying the price. Only now am I highly motivated to take things more seriously and make the time to follow a regular routine of stretching. Pain has a way of doing that to you.
In the spirit of sharing lessons learned and sparing you the same fate, I figured that this would be a particularly good time to comment on a few other under-appreciated prevention strategies.
In my case, it unfortunately took a painful dose of back pain to remind me to get my own act together and commit to doing some simple stretches. The fact of the matter is, we know prevention works. The challenge, however, is in convincing ourselves it's worth following all of the good advice that's out there before we feel the pain of putting it off.