Last Thursday, I hurt my back. As in, sitting down felt like living through the Casino Royale torture scene. Getting in or out of bed to go to the toilet made me wish for a catheter.

I’ve had episodes of back pain, but this one wins the crown of pain. And it’s not even close.

Pain is a very personal matter for each of us, but I thought it’d be helpful to share a few things that I’ve done in the last four days to feel better. If not 100%.

Spoiler alert: so much of our pain is about the pain and injury stories we tell ourselves. I might’ve called an ambulance if this had happened five years ago. No joke.

Here’s what went down on Thursday.

I was doing some relatively light Romanian deadlifts with kettlebells and felt something in my back. Since it was just a tiny twinge, I figured it’d be ok and kept going with the set (which is the opposite of what I recommend my clients do).

In the next rep, it felt like someone rammed a rusted butter knife into my back.

It wasn’t too bad right away, but the back started to feel nasty as the afternoon wore on. Walking to get the kids from daycare was a firm no-go. I gave up after 400 meters.

The next morning wasn’t much better.

Moving like Tinman with a “nervy” pain in the back and running down the left leg at various intensities. Joy.

But I knew and know that with most of the non-trauma-induced (car crashes, falling out of a tree, getting kicked by a mule) soft tissue injuries, the pain level rarely correlates with the actual physical damage. I knew that pain is more intense when we’re feeling stressed. And I’d been feeling little stressed the last few weeks.

I also knew that a good night’s sleep would help. So I took paracetamol to numb some of the pain—something I’ve never had to do with a musculoskeletal injury. There’s no way I could’ve slept without it though.

And although I wasn’t feeling much better by the morning, the pain subsided significantly as Friday progressed.

Here’s what I’ve been doing since Friday morning to make my back feel better:

1. Staying positive and avoiding negative language when talking or thinking about my back (“my back is broken,” etc.). But let’s face it, there were times where I felt sorry for myself.

2. Moving as much as possible while keeping the pain <5 out of 10 most of the time.

Walking, Cat/camels (first by leaning against the wall and gradually making my way to the ground), shimmys, child’s pose, back extensions, tactical frogs, squats, push-ups as soon as I could get down to the ground on Friday morning. The last one being more for the mind than anything.

Saturday was significantly better than Thursday and a little better than Friday.

But I still had to be mindful to avoid the rusty butter knife in some positions.

On Sunday, I was still in pain but could do a long walk and run a short distance next to my kid while he biked.

Today I’ve been able to do modified mini-workouts throughout the day, but workouts nevertheless. I still can’t touch my toes to save my life, but I can bodyweight squat deep without pain.

Tomorrow? Cartwheels! Kidding.

Anyways.

The idea here wasn’t to show specific exercises and tactics everyone should do when dealing with back pain. Instead, I wanted to highlight the overall strategy of staying positive where possible, educating yourself about pain, moving as much as you can, and gradually increasing the pain-free range.

Oh, and a heat pad. I wanted to marry one of those on Thursday and Friday.

I hope that helps. If you want to educate yourself about pain, here’s a great free ebook from ESSA and Pain Australia worth a geez. It’s dope.

-J