What to do for a Bad Back

Image of a person reading with their dog.
Image of a person reading with their dog. Thomas Barwick/Iconica/Getty Images

What to do for a Bad Back

Although bed rest as a treatment for a bad back is no longer as popular it was in years past, there are still situations in which you may find yourself doing mandatory down time.

One of my colleagues, Patti Wigington, found herself in just that predicament. She was recently laid up in bed enduring sciatica due to herniated disc as she waited first for a spinal epidural, and if that wasn’t to be effective, for her surgery date.

Patti is the kind of individual– let’s call her a “Type A” personality – who is constantly doing something. So when the pain got in the way of business as usual, she reports having felt “very humbled”.

“This was almost harder on me mentally than it was physically,” she admitted. “I go bonkers if I am not doing something".

Patti’s level of work output while confined to the bed provides testament to just how much of a go getter she is. (In my opinion, she takes the term “go-getter” to an entirely new level.) Patti clearly did not allow the experience of infirmary to keep her from being productive.

If you are a doer, as Patti is, and your spine pain keeps you in bed (or on the couch) most or all of the time, you may be wondering how Patti meaningfully filled her time. Fortunately, she shared her “best practices” with me. Below are ideas (some hers, some mine) for passing the time when, because of your back, being in the swing of things is just not possible.

Writing and Journaling

"I really caught up on my writing during my convalescence," Patti tells me. While it’s true that her job requires a fair amount of writing activity with which she must keep up, there’s no reason why you can’t adapt this idea to your own writing needs, requirements or inspirations.

Whether you write for self expression (ie. journaling and writing as an art form), or you do it for functional reasons (business and personal correspondence, for example) being confined to bed is a great time to do work on this aspect of your life.

Get Caught Up On Your Reading

Lying immobilized while you wait for a back treatment may provide you with the perfect opportunity to finish all those books and articles on the back burner. Patti tells me that among the many other things she accomplished during her convalescence, she got through 2 books, which she read on her Nook.

With the right accessories, e-readers may be instrumental in helping you manage the potential muscle strain that often comes with holding, handling and carrying reading materials.

Organize Your Photos and Do Some Scrap Booking

I love the idea of scrap booking and making personal art, but I am just too busy to give this activity priority. Patti opened my eyes as to yet another value of being in bed with a back problem. In her case, she organized all of her digital photos on her laptop.

That’s a great idea, but don’t forget the online photo sharing sites such as Flickr, as well as both digital and analog scrap booking techniques.

Plan Your Home Decor

Staring at the 4 walls and ceiling doesn’t have to be boring. As you lie there, you might get to thinking about what colors or plants or furniture pieces could spruce up your environment. Just don’t forget to create a budget for the project when you’re done dreaming! 

Other things that Patti accomplished while healing her back include knitting two hats on her loom, learning new xBox games, bonding with her dog by playing tug a rope for hours on end and finding new music on iTunes.

“Keeping the mind and spirit busy is crucial to getting the body better", Patti reflects.

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