Lions and Low Back Pain

“Your body whispers there is a problem before it screams about it.”

Like a lioness lying in wait for its prey, tucked among the tall, yellow grasses of the Serengeti, your body has sent off warning signs of things to come.  Your body whispers at you, a little twinge in your low back.  You ignore the murmurs your body has muttered off and work through it.  It’s just a one-off incident.  You move on with your life. 

However, a few months later, you moved innocently, and that same twinge in your low back freezes you, as if sensing the presence of the lioness stalking you in the distance.  She remains hidden, biding her time, seeking out the opportune moment to pounce when you least expect it. 

You “rest”.  You look on Dr. YouTube for some exercises from some internet “expert” who knows nothing about you and your low back pain, but you try them anyway.  Your reasoning, “They seem to know what they are talking about.  What’s the harm in doing these exercises?”  The harm?  The harm is that they are not specifically for YOUR low back pain.  Luckily, you get some relief, and the pain seems to have resolved, for now.

Many more months later, you are helping a friend move.  You pick up a box that was no more than 5 pounds, and it hits you.  The lioness has pounced.  Your body freezes in the lioness’ grasp as the spasms take over preventing you from causing further harm to yourself, paralyzed by the low back pain you thought had gone away.  The lioness lets you slip out its claws as she grabs hold of another victim.  You end up laid out on the floor afraid to move because the lioness will come back for a second attempt, but this time as dessert.  24 hrs later, by some miracle, your low back pain has subsided, and you slowly resume your daily life and your workouts.  You’ve escaped lioness this time.

You figure now that it was nothing serious since it went away on its own, that you are fine.  The lioness is satiated for the time being. 

Over a period of a few more years, the twinges causing the low back pain come and go as the lioness remembers your scent.  She is stalking you.  The low back pain is triggered by the most benign movements, but mostly resolves on its own with the help of Dr. YouTube and some pills.  You begin to concede that this is part of the aging process.  All your friends have told you their own low back pain story.  However, the lioness continues to patiently wait among the tall, yellow grass, hidden, waiting. Waiting for the moment to strike.  You’re “wounded” and the lioness knows it.

Then one day, you bend over to put your pants on, briefly, letting your guard down, and the persistent and patient lioness pounces again.  The low back pain worse than it ever has been in all the years of warning signs of a stalking presence in the prairie.  The spasms grip much like the jaw of the lioness on your body.  The more you fight it, the worse it gets.  The lioness now has you in her grasp, this time, unable to escape.

You fall to the floor crawling to the couch to lay down.  Any movement strikes fear into your mind in an attempt to avoid the jaws of the lion to grasp tighter. 

The “screaming” from your body is deafening as the relentless low back pain from the muscle spasms protecting you from yourself takes over.  Your body, now, “screaming” at you after you failed to listen to all the warning signs through the years.  In hindsight, you think about all the other times your low back was talking to you.  The feeling of regret and anger begins to consume you for having ignored all those times your low back tried to tell you something was wrong, where you couldn’t be inconvenienced by the low back pain.  However, all is not lost.  You aren’t the only one that has fallen victim to the lioness.

The good news is that something can still be done about it.  Take this as a life lesson.  Usually it takes a “bad” incident to really force us to change and do something different.  If you want to dissuade the lioness from stalking and hunting you, then finding a way to get the lioness to lose interest is your best bet.  Get to the root of the problem.  Become the stronger member of the herd to outrun and avoid the lioness all together. 

Usually when the problem lingers longer than it needs to, our bodies will compensate by changing how we move to avoid the pain.  This only causes more problems down the road.  Low back pain is easier to manage in the early stages before things go completely awry.  Don’t fret if you have been dealing with low back pain for years.  You can still undo the unwanted compensations with a little work. 

If you are hearing whispers from your body or even if you have reached the point of loud screams, do something about today.  Give us a holler: CALL (703) 650-8824 or email:, let us know, and we can discuss how we can help you avoid the lioness! 

Dr. Jamie So

Jamie So, PT, DPT, is the owner and physical therapist of Manual Therapy Effects.


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