I’ve had postural issues for my entire life, but about 2 years ago my body had had enough, and a sudden pain appeared down left hand side of my back.
This sudden appearance of pain was alarming. I’d never had any sort of pain in my body before, and at this point, I wasn’t aware that I had any kind of functional or postural issues. I’m somebody who’s been passionately involved in sports since a young age, so I was concerned that I’d injured myself somewhere down the line, and visions of hanging up my trainers and settling for evenings in front of the TV watching Coronation Street came floating into my mind. This was deeply disturbing for me.
I know people who have had back pain before, and they immediately visit the doctors, get prescribed strong painkillers, and live the rest of their lives dependent on drugs and complain about their limitations. I am absolutely 100% not that person, I knew I had to find out what was wrong and how to fix it. And so, I embarked on my journey of discovery.
It’s been 2 and a half years since my first “OMG WTF IS THAT PAIN IN MY BACK” moment and I have achieved both of the things I set out to do.
What I found:
My ribs were out of whack, my pelvis was twisted and my torso was sat in an odd position which eventually caused a huge tightness down the left hand side of my body.
How I found it:
An experienced personal trainer analysed my form in the gym and a physio gave me the guidance and exercises required to straighten myself up again. Mind you, it took me a while to find the right physio. I also visited a who chiropractor confirmed I didn’t have any bone problems… this relieved a lot of anxious thoughts for me.
The whole experience has been very eye opening. It’s so common for our bodies not to be 100% symmetrical, and so very easy to start training at the gym with absolutely no idea that our form is a load of crap. Even if we copy what we see online, our bodies will fall into the position they naturally sit in, which feel and look perfect to you, but to a professional, it’s obvious something is wrong.
Anyway, teaching a fully grown body how to move again is difficult and extremely frustrating (I can’t even imagine how frustrating this must be for people with serious injuries). Here I am 2.5 years later feeling as though I’m finally near the end of a long journey with lots of hurdles. Generally speaking, with consistency and patience, I’ve fixed my issues and live without any pain. However, occasionally the pain will flare up and there’s still a stubborn bit of tightness left to get rid of, so my physio suggested dry needling.
The thought of little needles being poked into my back was a little alarming, so I did plenty of research on the subject before trying it. There is lots of varying research around dry needling but after learning that there are very minimal risks and that it’s generally very safe, I decided to book in for it.
The lady who did the needling was extremely experienced. First, she massaged the areas the needles would go in to prepare the muscle and get to know the areas of tension. Then, I lay on my side and she started to push needles into my back and glutes…
The sensation was minimal. And to my surprise, I didn’t feel most of the needles go in at all (except for the one in my glute medius which had a little spasm). Although there was no major pain, I wouldn’t say it was a relaxing experience. My main focus was on lying completely still and trying to keep my muscles relaxed so that the needles could work their magic.
The idea of dry needling is that it breaks up muscle tissue which cannot be released using massage or stretching. The physio advised me that only 1 or 2 sessions are usually performed, and if it isn’t making a difference, it’s probably not going to. With that being said, dry needling alone may not be effective, but combined with exercise and stretching, results are more likely.
So here I am writing this 1 day after my experience. I slept REALLY well last night … I’m not sure if it’s related or not, but I think the experience tired me out more than anything. It’s difficult to say whether there’s been any effect at this point… I THINK I feel a release of tension, however it could be a placebo. I’m excited to see what develops over the next few weeks as I continue with my usual routine of work, travel and gym. (Blog pending).
If you’re experiencing a pain anywhere in your body, I advise you to invest in experienced professionals (NOT a doctor who may just prescribe pain killers) to diagnose your problem. It may take months to identify what is wrong and then maybe years to fix it… but there really is no compromise. You only have one body, and you must invest the time and energy into it if you want to remain active and able for a long time.