Oh! My Aching Back!

By Jake Jakubuwski
Copyright, 2012

 We humans have only one internal, self-regenerating, organ  —   the liver.

 What I would like to see is back regeneration. I know the back is not an organ — but if your back is on the bum, you ain’t a whole lot of use to yourself. 

When I was younger, and less wise then I am today, I would hear folks beg off lifting anything because their “back was out”. I, in the infinite wisdom of youth, snickered to myself and thought they were just looking for an easy way to get out of working. Maybe some of them were.

About six years ago, I found out what was meant by a back “being out”.  Mine not only went out, it loudly (or should I say “painfully”) declared that it simply didn’t want to play anymore.

 It wasn’t like my back hadn’t tried to warn me that I was being a jerk for lifting (Yeah! Like picking them up and carrying them) heavy drums of cleaner and chemicals or picking up sofas and rolls of carpeting by myself, without the aid of a dolly — it did. Repeatedly.

 But being young, strong, hard-headed and able to lift heavy objects — I did.  Repeatedly.

 And, truthfully, I liked to sort of show off doing it. I’d carry six, five-gallon pails of epoxy rather then two!

If something needed lifting and carrying — I was the first to lend my back to the effort. 

 Once, before Christie and I married, I took a day bed over to her apartment and impressed her by carrying it up two flights of steps — by myself — and on my back!

 Much later I learned that your back actually remembers all the bad stuff you subject it to. Frequently, my back will painfully remind me of those transgressions while I’m trying to perform some mundane task — like brushing my teeth.

 Some back problems are caused by accident.

 Most are the result of lifting too heavy a weight. Lifting stuff the wrong way, or showing your machismo by lifting heavy drums and carrying day beds up two flights of steps without help.

 The main cause (As I see it) of back problems is self-inflicted idiocy.

 I readily include myself in that group of folks who think their backs are invincible and will last forever. Folks who consistently and foolishly strain our backs doing things that backs were not designed to do.

 Then one day, in our future, we not only have to pay the piper, we find that we can no longer even dance. Or walk without a cane. Or pick up an empty cardboard box from the floor. Or… Well, you get the idea.

 Most back problems are preventable.

 Prevention starts with good lifting habits and not showing off. There’s really no reason to let your friends, or co-workers, see how strong you are and how big a load you can carry.

 There might be some self-satisfaction in carrying six, five-gallon, buckets full of whatever, to wherever — but the long-term cost of doing so is staggering.  Literally.

 I know, ‘cause I’ve been there and done that!

 Modern orthopedic medicine is truly remarkable when it comes to replacing hips, knees and performing corrective surgery. If it wasn’t, I’d be in a lot worse shape then I’m in.

 Even with all the strides that have been made and the remarkable things orthopedic surgeons are able to accomplish; I think about what my grandmother used to say: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!”

 Like many of her platitudes, that one was spot on. After all, truisms are truisms because they’re true, right?

 Take it from me: The kinder you treat your back while you’re young, the better your back will treat you when you reach The Age of Physical Retribution. The Age of Physical Retribution is the time in your life when your body, and all of its sundry parts, informs you that it is Payback Time!  

 Treat your back well while it’s still in good shape and it’s less likely you will later be moaning:

 “Oh! My aching back!”

 The following link will give you some information from the National Safety Council about protecting your back when lifting.