14,000 Miles on a Bike - Herniating and Fixing Discs
Kristin S was run over by a hit-and-run driver while biking home from work. The car's trailer hitch crushed her face, nose, jaw, cheekbones, and eye sockets inward to her sinus cavities. After Kristin's reconstructive surgery, her step-mother, a student in my martial arts classes, asked me to make a house call to get Kristin back to physical activity. When I met Kristin, she had just had the wiring removed from her jaw, was moving slowly and painfully, and could barely open her mouth when she greeted me at the door.
We had a good session. I showed Kristin several of my rehab methods. She was a good listener and applied everything well. She rehabbed quickly and went back to biking, her socially conscious work, and her active life.
Kristin soon designed a bike trip called The EarthCycle Campaign to raise public awareness of ways to reduce common practices that waste and destroy world resources. Her trip extended 14,000 miles (22,530 kilometers) from Fairbanks, Alaska USA to Tierra Del Fuego, Antártida e islas del Atlántico Sur, Argentina.
I donated some of my books to Kristin to raffle along with her other fund raising activity for the trip, then off she went.
Along the 14,000 mile ride, Kristin stopped in villages and cities to exchange information about simple ways that we all can lower our impact on Earth's environment.
Months of biking passed. Kristin's back pain began.
Pain worsened as she rode mile after mile, through villages, open roads, and cities. She tried exercises she found on various web sites and doctors visited in cities she passed through. She did yoga. She stretched. The pain worsened. After one medical evaluation, the doctors told her results showed several herniated discs in her lower back. From there, she was told by every doctor that it was permanent and she had to stop biking. The rehab they gave her didn't help.
I received a short e-mail from somewhere on the road - "Help me, how do I fix this, they said I have to live with pain and have to stop the tour."
I chided her good-naturedly, "Kristin you should have read my books before selling them :-)" I e-mailed her back explaining the uncomplicated way that discs can be injured and also healed.
A herniated disc nearly always bulges (herniates/moves/slips/migrates/extrudes) toward the back of the spine, not the front. What pushes it to the back? You do.
Sitting with a rounded back physically angles the spine bones (vertebrae) closer in front and farther apart in back. The "opening" in back is often mistakenly written about as a positive way to make space for the nerves, but what is missed is that the bones pinching closer in front make unequal pressure, like squeezing a tube of toothpaste from one end. A little knowledge is a dangerous thing. Contents are squeezed outward to the other side. The discs are mashed and degenerated in front and pushed outward (herniated), little bit by bit, in back. At left (hopefully since we're still having graphics problems) is a graphic of the process from the post: Disc Pain - Not a Mystery, Easy to Fix. Two vertebrae are shown from a side view, as if you are sitting facing right. The right-hand drawing shows how sitting bent forward physically pushes discs (herniates them).
Sitting and standing straight would make space in a healthier way for the nerves.
Disc herniation is a process taking a few years, just like the damage of smoking or eating junk food accumulates until the heart is damaged enough to hurt.
I e-mailed Kristin telling her that a herniated disc is a simple injury, not a condition. It can heal if you understand and stop the bad postures that push the disc outward. In her case, it was sitting bent rounded over her bike, and unhealthful stretching and yoga. Here is what she did to understand and fix it all:
- To understand and stop disc injury - The Cause of Disc and Back Pain
- To see the forces that herniate discs - Disc Pain Not a Mystery Easy to Fix
- The first thing to do - Fast Fitness - First Morning Stretch
- Then retrain healthy biking position by noticing bad rounding - Are You Making Your Exercise Unhealthy? and retrain good sitting in general with Long Sitting - Simple and More Comfortable
- The hamstring stretches Kristin was given were contributing to her herniated discs - Sitting Badly Isn't Magically Healthy by Calling It a Hamstring Stretch
- So was her yoga. If you already spend time bent forward and have the usually result of a flexion injury, you don't need more forward bending stretches - Getting the Right Yoga Medicine.
- She didn't need any surgery - Fix Disc Pain Without Surgery and Studies Say Back Surgery Not Needed
- Apply these principles to all your sitting sports - Prevent Back Pain When Rowing
- Apply these principles to all daily life - Free Exercise and Free Back and Knee Pain Prevention - Healthy Bending and How Good Would You Look From 400 Squats a Day - Just Stop Unhealthy Bending
- When should you use these principles? - How Often Should You Be Healthy?
Kristin followed the principles (above). She quickly recovered and went on with her bike tour, which lasted a full year.
Here is Kristin's web page about the ride: http://www.earthcycle.org/index.html
Click here to download her pamphlet: http://www.earthcycle.org/Pamphletengadult.pdf
Here is a page on her web site on easy healthy household tips: http://www.earthcycle.org/factsEnv.htm
Click the photo links below to see more phots of Kristin.
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