Just recently I lost several days of my active life to back spasms.
Back spasms are sudden involuntary contractions of any muscle in your back. Spasms are caused by either a weakness or injury to the muscles, tendons or ligaments. Not everyone experiences back spasms, but almost everyone’s back gets more vulnerable with age. My sincere hope is that yours never does. Breathtakingly painful and often debilitating, muscle spasms can knock you out of the game.
We Baby Boomers now find ourselves in a Catch 22 situation. We know we need to exercise to gain muscle mass and improve our body composition as we age. Yet, as we get older we nurse those nagging injuries and physical problems that accumulate over time, such as bad knees, stiff shoulders, and tricky backs. We walk around with life wounds while we continue to lose muscle at an alarming rate. Baby Boomers face two equally undesirable alternatives:
- Either workout out to prevent muscle loss and get hurt, or
- Don’t work out and suffer the dismal effects of age-related muscle loss and atrophy.
Even though we know the key to optimal health as we age is to gain muscle mass and improve our body composition, the fear of exacerbating our war wounds keeps many of us sedentary.
My own experience is a good example. I have back problems and have spent my life strengthening my back while trying to avoid reinjuring it. I suffered a back injury when I was barely a teenager, which required back surgery. I had made my condition worse by improperly lifting weights, overtraining, horseplay, and competitive sports leaving me vulnerable ever since.
I use the InForm Fitness model of slow and intense. Exercise has to be intense in order to strengthen, and that can be challenging. Intense exercise can exacerbate old wounds. As the Founder of InForm Fitness’ Power-of-10 Workout, I make the claim every day that we offer the safest, most efficient strength training program. Yet, I suffered an injury while exercising that resulted in acute, knock-you-on-your-ass, back muscle spasms. You can imagine my dilemma as to whether or not I should fess up or cover up my recent injury.
The truth is, accidents happen, even to pros.
My mistake was simple – I lost focus as I was self-training. My mind was racing in several directions during my workout. So, there I was, half way through my leg press routine and my mind took a hike into the “what-if” future. As my hips lifted slightly, SNAP – I tweaked something in my lower back. I reassessed, put my hips back down, checked my posture and position, and carried on.
I knew that I would be sore for a few days, but if I don’t challenge myself, nothing changes.
A few days later, while at home, and after having spent hours at my desk and even longer behind the wheel of my car, I reached to open the refrigerator door when I felt a sudden and severe jolt of pain. I went down on the kitchen floor and felt as if I were being tortured with jolts of electric shocks as though some evil antagonist was attempting to extract a confession.
I promise…I am not exaggerating.
As I lay on the kitchen floor with the breath knocked out of me from painful contractions, I wondered about my life’s mission: to create the safest and most efficient workout possible. Were these muscle spasms a wake-up call that something is wrong with the workout?
No, nothing is wrong with the InForm Fitness workout. While I have never claimed that this is the Perfect Workout, I remain steadfast that we offer the best workout available. Our Strength Training Instructors undergo rigorous preparation, our equipment is customized to meet exacting standards, and the protocol has been developed over years of research and trials, and has been successful for countless clients.
I got hurt because I lost focus. That’s one of the reasons workouts at InForm Fitness are one-on-one. Our instructors make sure you are working out with good form and they keep you in the moment, concentrating on what you are doing. There is nothing wrong with in the InForm protocol or our equipment.
I hate to think of what condition I could have been in if my seconds-long lapse of concentration from perfect form and control occurred during a workout like CrossFit, which is already fraught with potential injury. That ‘tweak’ could have been my last!
So the moral of this story is to not to give up. Continue to exercise with intensity, stay focused and be safe! Here’s to your good health, safe and efficient workouts and all the benefits they reap!