In my quest to get fit and eat healthier, I’m trying to get rid of excuses-but one still lingers. I feel the frequent presence of neck stiffness, general upper back pain and most specifically an injury to the left trapezius. After years of coping with these injuries under doctors’ care, I now find myself without health insurance because my husband lost his job. Here’s what I’m doing to cope.
Note: I am not a physician and you should not undertake any advice regarding workout or medication without first consulting your doctor.
To maintain flexibility and decrease the possibility of muscle cramping, I stretch for a total of ten minutes per day (or more). At the advice of my chiropractor, I do some neck stretches in the shower to increase flexibility. I use my favorite stretches from the yoga presented on the Wii Fit program and usually end with the spinal twist.
Good stretching habits lead to self-adjustments. I can tell when I need a back adjustment when I feel ‘uneven’ when I’m walking; eventually one hip, knee and thigh will usually start to hurt after a short walk. I self-adjust my upper back by doing slow, gentle pulls, pushing my chest out-as if I’m on a rowing machine, only much slower. I also twist my back while in a sitting position, carefully leaning to one side and then the other. Lastly, I cross my ankles and apply pressure to crack the tailbone.
I love working out, and that sometimes includes weight training. However, my back and neck muscles couldn’t keep up with the rest of my body due to the injuries. Even when I was careful not to work them too much, they were still aching and causing migraines. My doctor suggested pre-medicating with two ibuprofen before a workout. This has prevented a great deal of swelling, but I still have to be mindful of how much I work those muscles.
Sometimes I also pre-medicate if I take my dog for a long walk or go LARPing (live action role-playing) for the weekend.
Hydration and Caffeine
Staying hydrated is important to any diet or fitness regimen. I find it hard to drink water, but when I don’t, I always notice increased problems, specifically in the left trapezius. Since I’m not into water, I’ve taken to drinking lemonade-flavored sugar-free diet drinks and reduced-calorie iced tea. I could improve more here.
I also cut back on caffeine at my doctor’s suggestion. When I do get a migraine because of the injuries, I’m now sure of the reason-it’s not from lack of coffee. Now I can use caffeine to aid my medication in working; it helps remedy aches, pains and headaches on occasion.
Moist Heat, Dry Chill
Applying moist heat seems to work best for my stiff neck in particular. I do this by showering as hot as I can stand it-letting the water fall directly on my neck. Additionally, I use the Icy Hot Cream. This specifically relieves muscle tension. For my neck pain, a dry chill also works sometimes. For this I use a freezer compress. I find that this remedy works best while I am in a seated position such as typing on the computer.
Ideally, I’d be able to head to the doctor for these things. Unfortunately, the COBRA insurance option offered by my husband’s former employer is extremely expensive and my freelance work options are barely comprehensive. We do wish to purchase emergency-only insurance and we have the name of a nearby emergency clinic handy.
Until then, homeopathic and over-the-counter remedies will have to do when it comes to my chronic back injuries.
I have heard about orthopedic spine surgery by new jersey from a friend and hope to have it done as a last resort.