O is for Owies

OPain is a fact of running life. Inevitably, the time is going to come when a runner will be cruising along and suddenly have to pull up short with an “Ouch!” Toes, legs, knees, hamstrings, IT bands, feet, backs. At some point one or more of these parts is going to betray us.

My most recent owie has been my lower back. I believe that lawn-mowing season is to blame, that and a really fucked up spine. I’ve mentioned in these posts that I have degenerative disk disease—my thoracic and cervical spines are fubared beyond what is normal, for no apparent reason. I’ve never been in an accident, been rear-ended, or hit an airbag.

The only possible explanation I can think of for the state of my spine (besides old age, which, I am assured by those in the know, is not the case in my situation), is that I was a forest fire fighter during my college days and schlepped five gallon rubber water bags around on my back, up and down mountainsides for days on end. A massage therapist once told me that I have steel cables running down my spine instead of the expected flat ribbons of muscle.

Anyway, I digress. When I’m not running, my lower back seizes up, and small tasks (such as moving the laundry from the washer to the dryer or loading the dishwasher) cause me to grab my back and say “Ow!” Among other things.

No matter what body part hurts, one sure remedy for any sort of athletic injury is a hot Epsom salt bath. I’ve taken more baths in the past year and half than in the previous non-running twenty years or so. I’ve become a big fan of Dr. Teal’s scented Epsom salts, with eucalyptus as my favorite. Lavender and rosemary are both lovely as well.


I’ve also become one with the heating pad and a regular at physical therapy where I spend an hour and a half once a week. Lately they’ve been putting me in traction for 15 minutes after I get a massage—traction is lovely, though it sounds dire. I’d stay longer if they let me.

I know it seems antithetical, but for me at least (I cannot speak for anyone else after all), motion is lotion—the more I move, the better I feel. Just this morning (after PT), I was sitting on my heating pad feeling sorry for myself and sore. I decided to go running even though I felt kind of shitty. Running loosened me up and, so far, is keeping the owies at bay.

9 thoughts on “O is for Owies

  1. I got a pneumatic cervical traction device several years ago when I was suffering terrible headaches. I enjoy it too. Maybe I should get up off the couch and use it right now…

      1. Pam, here are the basics of Golden Milk as taught to me by Shendra who says it cured her of her leg arthritis. Turmeric is the key ingredient.

        Golden Milk

        To make the paste:

        Mix 1/4 C of turmeric and about 3/4 cup of water. Cook it in a tiny pot, stirring, until it thickens and makes a smooth paste (This will only take a few minutes). You may need to add more water as it gets thick. Keep it in the refrigerator in a small sealed jar.

        To make the milk:

        Get a coffee mug and put a half to a whole teaspoon of the paste in the bottom, then add a spoonful of honey, a teaspoon of coconut oil, a 1/2 teaspoon of Udo’s oil (at the co-op) and a sprinkle of ground cardamum. Fill your mug to within a half-inch of the top with milk (I use almond but cow or anything else is fine), stir well and heat in the microwave until warm. You may want to stir it a time or two as you drink this wonderful potion. Enjoy.

  2. You are persevering. And such good advice. My particular running owie is my Achilles…how mythic of me…but it bothers more when I don’t walk than when I do. I’m still hopeful slow jogging is somewhere in my future….

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