“mechanical lower back pain” – there are days when this rules my life. When it feels like my lower back is a nest of ripped and torn flesh, all wound up in a ball just waiting to explode. When my lower spine feels like it is being compressed into a single, fused piece of bone.
Today, I went out on the Spitfire to practice the loop that I will be racing during the “12 Hours of Cumberland”. This event is a marathon XC race, which I fully intend to do on a team of four, one lap at a time. The loop is 9 km and it took me 47 minutes. It was pretty wet, and my back was feeling pretty sore so I pushed my bike up a couple of the steeper climbs to try and not strain it so much.
To no avail. By the time the ride was done my back was in searing pain. And of course, when your lower back is screaming at you, the only thing that is marginally comfortable is lying down. Unfortunately, I had to get in my truck, pick up my son from daycare and take him home. The drive seemed to take forever and I swear I was near tears from the pain.
This wasn’t the first time. In fact, I can clearly remember the first time I felt the unique sensation of severe mechanical lower back pain. It was 1996 – I was in the Army and living in Chilliwack, BC. At the time I was completing my Army Engineer officer training. I think I had been riding bikes, and woke up the day after hardly able to move or even breath. Coughing, laughing – everything sent agonizing pain shooting from my lower back.
I went to see the base surgeon - and that's when I heard it: "mechanical lower back pain".
Since then I have been through at least 10 severe bouts of it - always followed by rest and healing. I discovered chiro about two years ago, and now go a handful of times a year when things get really sore. Last year I was barely able to ride a bike for about six weeks of the summer. Very frustrating.
This year things are going better. I did some weight training in the off season, got out on the ice for pick-up hockey 2-3 times a month and have started yoga. It must be working, because about an hour after I got home from that ride, I felt mostly OK - just the usual back-ground tension that seems to be present in my lower back permamently.
It probably doesn't help that I spend most of my days sitting behind a desk at work...and then go and ride bikes - probably one of the worst sports for your lower back. Oh well - I've never claimed to be exceptionally intelligent.