Background: I’ve been fighting severe shoulder/neck/back pain for months/years now (years of intermittent pain; months of constant pain, which is what drove me to look into a fix), and after a series of x-rays, physical therapy, MRIs, and a stream of no less than like four doctors, I found out I had a herniated disc, C5-C6. For the record, I am 30, and there was no traumatic physical event I could relate it to. The best guess is that it’s a combination of bad luck, shitty body, and arthritis (which I’m riddled with, even at 30). I tried multiple things for it, none of which worked satisfactorily, and I just recently got cortisone injections into the actual site.
Over the weekend it felt better, although the actual injection site hurt. But today, when I went back to work, I noticed that it started hurting again. The sharp pain was back — it feels like someone’s stabbing a knitting needle into my shoulder blade — and I was like, well, shit.
I decided to go for a swim anyway, because I haven’t been doing any kind of fitness work like at all; I reasoned with myself and decided to take it easy, treating the swim more like a long slow stretch than a hard workout. I swam 1250m in 24:00, basically broken up into 250 free / 250 pyramid IM (1 lap fly, 2 back, 3 breast, 4 free), but taking all of the stokes long and drawn out.
And I actually felt better afterwards. I still feel great.
So this has me thinking a couple things, the main one being: I’m just now realizing how much of this problem might have been exacerbated by my job. In the last ~ year and a half, my job responsibilities have changed and (d)evolved: I had a decently active job before, a good combination of physically demanding pilot plant work and desk time; but since my responsibilities changed, I find myself basically sitting at a (very uncomfortable) desk all day, compiling reports and presentations, writing emails, fielding phone calls — a lot of which is coordinating projects, handling people’s shit, pulling out miracles and putting out fires. Not only do I physically sit a lot more, but I am under way more stress, especially right now.
I would bet – I really would bet – that I’ve been making this bulging disc worse via 1. Stress and 2. Being stationary
Stress makes tension, and since I’m not moving around as much, it builds up. When I went for that gentle swim, I got to release a lot of that, and move and stretch all those muscles in there. The activity helps, I think.
So, food for thought. That doesn’t mean I’m anywhere near capable of leaping into some great fitness program — working out helps me but also hurts me, so I have to balance intensity with efficiency here — but in the meantime, I’m going to keep at these gentle stretching swims, and see whether the steroid injections can give me any lasting relief.