This summer has sucked.
The heat and humidity of New Jersey tends to wear me out, make me lethargic, and kills my motivation.
I’ve also spent July and August with varying degrees of back pain that has stopped me from all exercise and interfered with my ability to make a living.
In late June, I developed SI Joint discomfort on the left side. I’ve dealt with SI joint pain on and off since college so I know how to handle it. Normally, the pain is pretty intense for a few days but then begins to subside. 7-10 days is usually what it takes me to get back to normal activity. When those 7-10 days are over, I take another three days off for good measure; sometimes the pain will go away before the injury is healed.
The whole process only happens once or twice a year and usually occurs when I neglect foam rolling and stretching of my hamstrings.
Unfortunately, this time I didn’t follow the protocol of extra rest even when the pain is gone.
Instead, I went to the park with my girlfriend, threw around a light medicine ball, and did some hill sprints. I started to notice some tightness and a dull ache in my lower back/sacrum area, so I cut the workout short. After laying around and icing myself all of Sunday, I returned to work on Monday, hoping I’d be alright.
I wasn’t alright.
In fact, my lower back muscles began to spasm so badly that I couldn’t stand up for two days. I could stand up on my legs, but I couldn’t fully stand up straight and move my back into extension. I was stuck pretty much like this
Those two days of spasm were slightly worse on the right side, and the right side muscles didn’t seem to want to let go of their death grip even when the left side started to relax. As a result of this right sided spasm, I started to develop SI joint pain on the right side and a dull ache all over my lower back. This pain slowly got better, but I still felt tight when bending forward, getting out of bed, and getting into or out of a seated position. Every time I tried to pick something up, even it was just to get something out of the refrigerator, my back muscles would tighten on me, painfully, and restrict my movement.
Luckily, I’ve solved the problem and now feel normal again, although there is some lingering soreness due to what my body has dealt with.
Trying to solve anatomical problems often comes down to a “chicken or the egg” type scenario. In my case, I’m left wondering what caused the spasms. I noticed on Saturday that my pelvis was tilting down to the right. The left side of my pelvis was higher than my right side. I don’t know if the pelvic tilt led to the spasms or the spasms led to the tilt. I’m thinking that the spasms led to the tilt because I have found the offending muscle. How I figured out what was causing the tilt is an interesting story of some intense detective work and trial and error. I haven’t yet figured out the exact chain of events, but I have fixed myself. But, that’s for the next post.