Once you’ve followed the BACKCoach process, learned the reasons your back hurts, addressed the contributing factors, and achieved relief from chronic back pain, the focus then shifts to maintaining your health and getting back to life. You will transition from recovery to a maintenance phase, adding the practice of “Extreme Self-Care”.
After understanding the true reasons your back hurts and then addressing them, you may find that you occasionally find yourself in pain again. I like to think of this as the “Weebles” phase of recovery, as in, “Weebles wobble but they don’t fall down” from the old toy commercial.
When this happens, when you begin to feel that the pain is reemerging, when your neck muscles feel tight from the effects of stress building in your body, or when your posture fails and your back aches, you can simply go back to the basics, recollect the risk factors and what made you better, and make self-care a priority.
You see, when you don’t take care of your body, it will tell you. At first, it may whisper by, for example, giving you an achy feeling at the end of the day. Then, if you don’t listen and you don’t respond, it will speak to you, this time louder: the pain will increase. If you still do not listen, the pain will continue to increase until you change what you are doing and take better care of yourself.
Use the BACKCoach Model of Chronic Back Pain as a guide to what may have slipped over time. Perhaps you are not moving enough, or you are under a lot of stress and not addressing the cause of the stress or its physiological response. Or maybe you have stopped paying attention to your mechanics and are falling into old postural habits. You may not be fueling yourself properly, relying on pseudostressors such as caffeine instead, are overworking, or you’ve stopped applying ergonomic principles.
Or, in some overall sense, you are simply not taking very good care of yourself. If this is the case, shift your focus to practicing extreme self-care. Make your own self-care your primary focus, beginning by asking yourself the following questions.
What message do you send when you don’t take care of yourself, when you put yourself last? How can you expect your body to respond when you consistently don’t give it what it needs?
Then, assess the ways that you may not be meeting your own needs physically, emotionally, spiritually, and in your relationships.
Instead of looking at pain as something to combat or eliminate, consider it a message from you to you, and then listen. Assess the contributing factors for back pain and fill in any gaps that may have appeared. Then, give an honest, objective look at how well you are taking care of yourself and then find ways to provide yourself with extreme self-care.
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