I once read that one in two adults has back trouble. Until one-and-a-half years ago I was part of the lucky half.

Then, while in the garden in the winter of 2009, while Lucia was away in Europe, I suddenly collapsed in agony with what felt like a knife slashing through my lower back.

Lower Back Pain

It took over half an hour to crawl back to the house, nearly fainting several times. I found my water bottle on the bench by the door and promptly drank the entire contents of the glass bottle, knowing from my Touch for Health training that most pain is a symptom of dehydration. Nothing changed in this case, however. I was still nearly screaming with pain. I did manage to crawl to the kitchen, forced my body to stand in a crouch, and drank another couple of litres of water with barley grass powder stirred in. I needed to pick up Asha from school and I wasn’t even sure how I would get to the car, let alone drive it. Somehow, I managed.

To make a long story short, I visited my friendly local osteopath, John Somerville, a couple days later, when I realised my back just wasn’t getting better on its own. I walked out of that session feeling like a numb version of my own pre-back-pain self and gradually felt better over the coming days, finding slow, level beach walks to be the best back therapy at the time.

From that moment on, I’ve noticed that my back is more prone to pain than it was before the injury. Certain movements in the garden or an entire weekend of dancing could result in significant lower back pain. But, using a combination of gentle walking, a simple Alexander exercise, appropriate yoga asanas, and by massaging spinal pressure points on my hands, I’ve found ways to virtually eliminate back pain.

Cat and Cow

The yoga postures I use are the cat/cow, various twists, the pelvic lift and the child pose. These are all simple exercises anyone can do. And the Alexander posture I use involves simply lying on my back with bent knees and my head slightly elevated on a firm pillow (to elongate the spine) while my hands rest gently on my belly. I haven’t had to return to the osteopath since my initial visit because I’ve discovered yoga twists that virtually emulate the movement that John, the osteopath, used to manipulate the slipped vertebrae that was causing the pain in the first place.

One morning after a long weekend of Scottish Country Dancing I awoke in agony. I lay still on my back with my knees raised while pressing firmly on the pressure point on the outside of my hand just above the wrist. I didn’t let go despite a range of sensations in the tip of the index finger with which I was applying the pressure (as I’d learned doing Body Electronics with Dr. John Ray). Within 30 minutes my entire spine felt like it was on fire, and within 45 minutes I was out of bed, absolutely free of pain. Self massage can seem miraculous at times like this.

My back injury has forced me to be more aware of my posture when sitting, walking and working. This is good. It has also encouraged me to stop from time to time and lie on my back with knees raised. This is also good, bringing another form of meditation into everyday life. This experience with my back has once again demonstrated there is so much we can do to help ourselves to optimal health.

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Radio host, inspirational speaker and health educator John Haines is the author of In Search of Simplicity: A True Story that Changes Lives, a startlingly poignant and inspiring real-life endorsement of the power of thought, belief and synchronicity in one’s life.

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