Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Update on my back, neck, arm (169.2)

I've spent a good deal of time and money this year dealing with my neck, upper back, and arm injuries and pain.   The problems mostly stemmed from poor placement of my computer at work, a worn-out office chair, and carrying too much weight on the crook of my left arm.

My physical therapist worked through the majority of these issues, helping heal the nerve in my arm with ultrasound treatments and giving me exercises to do at home.  The cost for PT came out of my insurance deductible, and it was not cheap.  In other words, I have an investment in my body that I need to maintain.

At work I elevated my laptop to eye level, got an external keyboard and mouse, added a keyboard tray to my desk, and got a new chair.  I pieced them together one at a time, but it took ALL of those things combined to finally eliminate the painful knots in my neck and upper back.  In only a couple of weeks with the new chair and keyboard tray, the pain completely went away. 

My left arm is taking longer to heal.  I damaged the nerve at the crook in my arm, and my PT said it could take well over 6 months to completely heal. 
Lesson for you all--don't be a "one trip wonder" when carrying in your groceries, loading tons of weight on your arms.  You will eventually cause serious damage. 
If I overuse it, mostly when doing free weights classes, it gets tender and slightly weaker.  So I'm careful about bicep work and not loading up the bar with too much weight.

I am careful about adjusting my chair in different positions throughout the day.  I also pay close attention to my posture in the car now, keeping my abs tucked in and my shoulders back against the seat. 

Running regularly is also improving my back and posture.  When I run, I focus on keeping my shoulders down and in my "back pockets."  Running motions from my arms moving strengthen my upper back significantly, too.

The quality of my life has significantly improved because I'm not in continual pain and stress everyday. 

It took years for the small things to build up and cause injuries.  None of this stuff bothered me in my 30s.  I had used my laptop as it was for over 4 years before I had problems with my neck. 

Many small changes resulted in big results.  It was no One Thing, and it took trial and error to figure it all out.  

There's a bigger lesson to be learned from this, too.  Many small changes--baby steps--can impact every area of my life.  I have much more to work on, a little at a time.


Laura N said...

The weekend was pretty bad, food wise. We had a dinner with church friends Friday night, and a Halloween party after that, where I had a couple of drinks and stayed up until after midnight. It went downhill from there. Halloween candy didn't help. I felt pretty crappy all weekend from the unhealthy food.

I did run Saturday morning with my girls. 5 miles in 62 minutes, which was my best pace yet for a long run. I am running without walking now, which is a big accomplishment for me. The 5 miler had a big hill, and I ran up it both times without stopping to walk on the upside or the downside. First time I've ever done that. Ever.

I ran on our treadmill last night, which I was dreading because I'd much rather run outside, but I put my music in my ears and set it on 12 min/mile, and just ran. I ran the last half mile at 10 min/mile for .25 miles at a time, with a brief walk break in between. I felt so great after I was finished.

I love that I have the stamina to kick it up a notch at the end of a run. I did the same thing on Saturday, when I thought my tank was completely empty but found the energy to push and push for the last quarter mile or so.

I am ready to push through this plateau now, too. I am psyching myself up for it. I need to be much more careful about my food at night--sticking to protein and veggies and reducing my carb intake significantly after 6 pm. I think if I start there, I can see how much it helps, then in a month or so if I'm still not seeing results, I will start tracking my food again.

Of course, I have to stay out of the cookies and candy, too. I know I can do it. I just have to set myself up for good nights by having good days.

Vickie said...

tiny little things in positioning, repetative motions, really add up - positive or negative. It is amazing what habits can do - either way.

I have found the funniest little thing for traveling without a lumbar support pillow. My fanny pack works perfectly. I put a travel size pack of kleenex in the side that is against my back, then my inhaler goes on the side that is farthest away from my back. Coin purse with ID, credit card, $ goes in the middle. When I flip it around to my back, it is in the perfect place and is the perfect size to protect my lower back positioning. It is such a silly little thing, but makes a huge difference. I have a lumbar pillow in my car, but public transportation is the issue. I was on train for 5 hours yesterday, no discomfort then, none now.