Walking out to pick up the mail, I leaned over to pull some vines and suddenly could barely right myself. In the blink of an eye I went from confident, frisky, and healthy to mewling, shuffling, and stooped.
There’s no one to blame but myself (well, except the vine). From past experience, I know that it’s better not to bend over if you can avoid it. Forward flexion needs to be done carefully. You can cause disk problems or just pull a muscle. Either way, you’re instantly in deep doo-doo.
What you do next depends on how deep the doo-doo is.
If you can’t move without significant pain, then an immediate visit to an orthopedist or chiropractor is in order. In the meantime, bed rest, pain medicine to help the inflammation, and ice (It’s much better than heat), is about all you can do.
Fortunately, my pain wasn’t excruciating. And having been through back injuries before, I knew the drill. I sat on an ice pack for a while, and took naproxen (Aleve). I pulled out a mat and headed oh-so-carefully to the floor. I wasn’t at all sure I’d be able to get back up, so I took my cellphone with me just in case. When stuck in a prone position, text! (It’s the baby-boomer version of a medic-alert necklace.) I did a couple of simple stretches designed to help release the muscles, which tighten up in response to the pain.
I found these exercises on the website of the Nicholas Institute of Sports Medicine and Athletic Trauma— numbers 1-3 and 11 and 12 (I do these last two carefully—not too high) are the same ones my physical therapist gave me last time I got into trouble.
http://www.nismat.org/orthocor/programs/lowback/backex.html#Ex1 But the best defense is to strengthen your core muscles and try not to bend over.
For now, I bypassed the x-rays and physical therapy, as my ice-Aleve-stretching-rest routine, and visits to the pool helped. I’m not 100%, but hopefully I will be soon. Otherwise, I’ll see you at the orthopedist’s office. Last one to the x-ray machine is a rotten egg.