Monday, March 16, 2009

Green and Good Posture

Kicking off St. Patrick's Day a little early, I headed out to Shamrock Fest at RFK Stadium with a bunch of college friends. Magically through a sea of Irish green and drunken crowds, our group ended up together under the NCAA tent to watch the Maryland/Duke game and to get out of the gross rainy drizzle. It was so nasty and depressing outside, that once the game was over, we ended up leaving shortly after and headed into D.C. in search of food.

Why it was worth it anyway: The crowd in the tent was a 50-to-1 Maryland-Duke fan ratio (with one random UNC fan who hated both Duke and Maryland) so there was this intense energy when dozens of random strangers were doing the Maryland chants along with us.

Why it wasn't: We paid $30 to drink beer and watch Maryland play out in the wet and cold. We only watched one band do a few songs and two of the songs were covers.

Sunday, I headed back to the shore to see my sister Leslie in her senior class play, Wizard of Oz. It was so strange seeing kids I used to babysat now singing and dancing down the yellow brick road... and kids who used to babysit me now married (some even pregnant or with children). *Shutter*

I'm not trying to turn this into a health blog, but Sunday morning, I woke up and had pulled my back out - again. It's the same spot in my upper back I injured falling out of the top bunk freshman year of college. This would be the seventh or eighth time I've felt this pinched nerve feeling that quickly spreads to a throbbing, aching pain all through out my - wait for it, science word drop - trapezius muscle.

Normally, I wouldn't blog about this because it happens so often - I've pulled it carrying too many groceries at once, moving furniture, sneezing straight up while lying on my back in bed - but I finally decided to do something about it and the result. was. wiiilllddd.

Previously, my treatment had been ice, heat, ice, heat and some strength conditioning... I'm a (former) athlete so I know how to treat sore muscles, but fearing this was nerve damage from the fall way back when, I made an appointment to see a chiropractor. Understanding the controversy around them - chiropractors believe medicine clouds the natural chemical balance of the body as a quick fix and doesn't allow you to address the problem long term, as well as they believe surgery isn't necessary because it's nothing physical therapy can't fix - I decided what did I have to lose. My back-up plan was a massage or acupuncture.

After a quick physical, x-ray and health history, the chiropractor explained to me that it wasn't a punched nerve at all, but that the reoccurrence of the pain was from a weakening posture caused by (surprise) hunching over a computer for long periods of time. He said my long neck and broad shoulders where being forced out of alignment through the fetal position I sleep in, and from what I do every day - sit at a computer. It was causing my weight to shift to the middle of my back instead of being evenly distributed with good posture. Made sense, and I can hear my mother at the dinner table snapping at me now to sit up straight.

Here's where it started to get weird. After the analysis, I was placed face down on a table and the assistant laid ice and electrodes on my upper back. Every few minutes, she would come over and turn up the voltage. At first it felt like a slight tingle, but by the end of it, I was shrugging my shoulders spontaneously and uncontrollably. After that, it was heat for fifteen minutes on an automatic massage table mMmMm.

A little dazed, the chiropractor came back and led me to another room with a flat table. Laying down on my back he was in the middle of explaining how someone at my age would have really great fluid motion when he rolled me on my side and suddenly CRACK! He cracked my spine. And laid me back flat. Like it was nothing. I was so startled I yelped and then couldn't stop nervously giggling. I was in the middle of saying "whoa, haha... what was..." when CRACK! He twisted my head sharply to the right, and then CRACK! sharply to the left. It sounded like someone had set off a bunch of popper fireworks all at once in the room.

A little disoriented, he had me sit up and was explaining how he was pleased with my spinal movement. Fabulous. I was going to protest and say, "Well, did you really do anything?" when I stopped and realized I felt better. A lot better. Not 100 percent - still sore all over as you can imagine - but less, like a huge weight of pain had been lifted off my shoulders. It was incredible! I was a whole new woman!

Now, I've already broken his rule of staying away from the laptop tonight so I could rest my neck and back, but I have to go back on Wednesday to go over the x-rays so I figured a little crack, crack here, crack, crack there and I'll be good as new again for a while. Coming from a medical family, I'm still skeptical about the actual science of snapping the spine, but if it makes me feel better I'll snap to it.

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