Marcie's Story - A Mid Back Pain Journey
Marcie’s story challenges the popular opinion and reliance on surgeries and injections. She tore her hip labrum, had chronic back pain, and rehabbed herself back to being stronger than ever without drugs, injections, or surgical interventions. Also, it highlights a fundamental, yet misunderstood, principle, in Marcie’s own words “posture and flexibility REALLY MATTER”. Marcie had, what we call at Align, FOCUSED INTENSITY. She had a burning desire to succeed, a dedication to the process, trust in her coach, and patience. She was FIRED UP & REMAINED PATIENT. Marcie had the right mindset and the right team around her. That’s the recipe for success. I couldn’t be prouder of this lady.
Marcie is a Nutritionist and avid long-distance cyclist, but a torn labrum and chronic mid-back pain made her passion for cycling an impossibility.
“I had been pretty active physically off and on for 20 years. I had a group of four girls I would regularly do 65-100 mile rides with. But in 2014, I tore my hip labrum and since 2009 had experienced a deep ache in my upper middle back. Eventually I just stopped moving. It hurt too much. Which, of course, led to other types of issues, IT band pain, piriformis pain, and low back tightness. Also, work was stressful and without the release of exercise, I was grumpy and I started gaining weight.”
The start of Marcie’s Story is all too common. Pain and injury decreases activity which decreases our ability to cope with stress which makes us crave unhealthy food which makes us feel lethargic which in turn takes us back to the beginning of this nasty cause and effect chain. The Pain Spiral.
“The back pain was just always there. I would lay on the floor several times a day at work trying to get relief, but it never went away. I tried everything for the back pain; herbal supplements, massage, chiropractics, acupuncture. The pain would lessen sometimes but never really go away.”
I Liked Your Socks
I asked Marcie what made her come to Align and what her first impressions were like. She said, “I was seeing stories on Facebook. They were really inspiring but I really had no idea what Align was about. I came in the evening before Thanksgiving for an evaluation, so I could start the following Monday. I really appreciated the consideration of my pain and my eagerness to get started. I thought that was really something, plus you had on striped socks.”
I couldn’t help but laugh. Despite the socks, I think what made Marcie have Hope that Align could help was the evaluation. She had a complex set of muscle system imbalances that were rooted out in her evaluation. She had all five of The 5 Problematic Postures and 7 out of 10 of our Big 10 Tight & Painful Muscles. The 5 Problematic Postures and Big 10 Tight & Painful Muscles are Align’s method for simplifying and educating clients on their pain. Quite simply, we found plenty of reasons for her mid back to be hurting and her hips were carrying needless extra stresses due to the posture and flexibility issues. Her biomechanics were exactly opposite of where she needed to be.
“I was skeptical at first because when I had my first scheduled time, I laid on my back for 20 minutes.”
She’s referring to the infamous Static Back exercise.
“I was thinking what the heck is this going to do? Gradually I did a few other things. I started slow but in hindsight that’s exactly what I needed. Soon, we were off and running, making progress faster than I thought possible.”
Marcie is describing a common theme that needs to be understood. Almost without fail, people overestimate how quickly they should begin ramping up exercise intensity and complexity and underestimate how quickly they can progress once their imbalances and biomechanical issues get resolved. This is a common fallacy. The lesson to be learned here. Start slow. Be patient. Keep working. Challenge your own preconceptions about what you are capable of.
“I think the best part of Align is the personal attention. It’s not like I crave attention, but I knew that I needed to do everything exactly the right way or I could hurt myself. I went four times a week and never missed a session unless I was out of town. I really have never looked forward to exercising as much as I do with Align. My coach, Sam, just made a huge difference. He changed the way I viewed how much I could push myself but also knew when I couldn’t and shouldn’t push myself.”
This is the sign of a good coach. Good coaches know how to read injuries day to day. If joints and exercise form aren’t tracking right one day, possibly due to hydration or inactivity or poor sleep, it may not be the day to push for a new personal record. If a client has traveled and not done their traveling routines, their joints are going to be unstable, also not a good day to push. Good coaches make their plans around how their clients’ body is performing THAT DAY not how they have performed in the past. Good coaches know that every day your body is different.
I Can Trust My Body To Be Strong
“We moved recently and I was able to help my husband pick up and move all sorts of things I could never have done last year. My hip doesn’t hurt. It isn’t tight or painful at all. And my back, well, one day Sam asked me how my back was and realized I didn’t feel it at all. I had forgotten about it. It’s amazing. It’s freedom.”
“I can trust my body to be strong now. I’m doing 85 lb deadlifts, planks, lunges, rows, everything! Can you imagine?? How did that happen?? It happened because I was encouraged to trust myself and my body and push it to achieve something I have never done. Sam knew I had it in me, even if I didn’t.”
Sam did not magically heal Marcie’s torn labrum and back pain. Sam followed the Align Method. When Marcie came in she was in violation of all three of Align’s Movement Rules.
Rule #1 – Proper Posture Decreases Joint Stresses & Painful Inflammation
Marcie had all 5 Problematic Postures. This created lots of joint stresses and inflammation. Pain.
Rule #2 – Flexibility Creates Resilience To Injury, Inflammation, & Joint Degeneration
Marcie had 7 of The Big 10 Tight & Painful Muscles. Her flexibility issues were a ticking time bomb.
Rule #3 – Strong Joints Hurt Less & Make Moving Easier
Marcie had lost strength from the lack of movement, which made all her other issues worse.
Sam didn’t heal Marcie’s torn labrum, he made her body work the way it’s supposed to. We took stress off the area and made it mobile and strong, and her body healed itself. Often pain comes not from the primary injury but from the secondary posture, flexibility, and instability that come with an injury. And those secondary issues keep the primary issue from getting better, like rubbing sandpaper on an open wound.
You Have To Make The Decision
I asked Marcie to give advice to people who are experiencing pain, who are still stuck in The Pain Spiral. Here’s Marcie’s heartfelt advice.
“I know it’s hard when you are hurting, out of shape, and overweight. I was there. But you are the only one that can help yourself get started. You have to make the decision, and then find the right people to help you in your journey.”
Marcie’s absolutely right. You have to fight. You have to make the decision that you won’t settle. You are the only person who can help you. You cannot wait for a doctor to fix you. You must be your own advocate. Learn. Be informed. And take charge of the most fundamental thing to a happy life. Your health.