I’ve been plagued with back problems from about the age of 18. Mild scoliosis + an ultra bendy back + sizeable norks + lots of time spent at a computer + two small children = a back (and neck, shoulders and pelvis) that play up on a regular basis. In my experience, people are either Bad Backians, or, um, Non-Bad Backians. A Non-Bad Backian may have the very occasional bad back condition (and boy, don’t we all hear about it when they do!), but true Bad Backians are afflicted so often that we’ve kind of accepted our fate as part of life. Here are 10 signs that you’re well and truly in my camp…
- You carry Nurofen/Voltaren in your handbag at all times and pop them like other people pop breath mints.
- You frequently walk around the house with a heat pack dangling over your shoulder like a mink stole, only more wheaty-smelling and without a small, endangered animal’s face on the end.
- Your masseuse, chiropractor, osteopath and/or acupuncturist are all on speed dial and you’re able to converse with them in scientific back terminology. ‘My upper thoracics are out of alignment again and my scalenes are giving me referred headaches again!’
- You’ve become adept at the ‘self massage’ (contorting your hand behind your back and sticking your thumb into the sore bits, managing to create more sore bits in the process).
- Every so often, you’ll have a ‘Frankenstein day’. You know the one, where you have to turn your entire body in the direction of a person to talk to them because your neck and/or upper back is so wickety-wack. (And you look pale with a greenish tinge and feel like you’ve got bolts inserted into your neck.) Yep, that one.
- You don’t think twice about contorting yourself into strange yoga-like positions to try to ‘stretch out the pain’, no matter where you happen to be. The hands-behind-back boob thrust whilst lining up at the post office? Ahh yeah, that’s got it. Loud neck crack side stretch in the middle of a work meeting? Don’t mind me, just searching for a little pain relief. Hands clasped over head, bum in the air and head between legs in the middle of the supermarket aisle? What are you lookin’ at? (Whispered Madonna Vogue-voice style)
- You smell of Deep Heat/Tiger Balm/Goanna cream so often that people think it’s your signature fragrance.
- Your head sometimes feels so heavy that you’re tempted to wear a neck brace to help you prop it up.
- You go to bed with more pillows under various parts of your body than a woman in her third trimester of pregnancy.
- Your partner has to listen to you say things like: ‘Oooh, right there… oh yeah… that’s great. Go harder! A bit more to the left, yes!! Ohhhh… don’t stop! Get in there! Five minutes more?’, all with the likelihood of getting nothing in return but RSI of the thumbs.
Of course, if you are a Bad Backian, you KNOW all the things you’re supposed to do to prevent it happening. Like do yoga, pilates and specialised stretches every day, explore the Alexander Technique and the Feldenkrais Method, do a lot of planking, stand at your desk rather than sit, only ever look directly ahead, sit on a fitball instead of a chair, never use a laptop computer… But then that annoying thing called LIFE gets in the way and you forget about being vigilant until – ‘ping!’ – it strikes again.