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Remember the scene in It’s a Wonderful Life when Jimmy Stewart’s sitting at Martini’s bar and prays for deliverance from his financial crisis only to get slugged by Mr. Welch, the school teacher’s husband? (OK, so you never saw the movie . . . but stick with me here; I’m about to make a point.) Well, I’ve been lecturing myself for months about doing more abdominal work at the gym — not that I need it — and when I finally get serious about the ab crunches and twists and lower back and core work, my back seizes up like nobody’s business.

Wednesday night’s sweat-a-thon had me doing back extensions, “total abdominal” crunches, and moving 90 lbs. this way and that in the swivelly chair thingy. Seemed like a good idea at the time. But yesterday I climbed out of bed feeling a good deal older than I am, and today I’m stiff as a board.

This is the kind of thing that continually vexes me. I’m supposed to push myself through my strength training routine by upping the poundage and working my weaker less-strong muscle groups, but it’s hard to do that without waking up the next day feeling like I’ve been hit by a truck. And, because I don’t particularly enjoy that sensation, it tends to persuade me to stay more inside my comfort zone, which will prevent me from reaching my fitness goals — whatever they are.

Yeah, yeah, I know: I should be incorporating a regular stretching routine into my weekly workout regimen. (Maybe on the off-days between my cardio-strength training sessions?) And, I’ll tell you, I wouldn’t mind spending a little time today working out these kinks in my back and shoulders and neck. But there’s work of the income-earning kind to be done. Maybe tonight.

The Good News About Back Pain

There are plenty of ways to treat and prevent back pain, as Gina Demillo Wagner points out in this helpful feature in the June 2007 issue of EL. The piece argues, in fact, that the best way to bounce back from a back injury is to get back into the gym, because only through strengthening your core will you head off future back troubles. This, of course, is a piece of advice I’m going to respectfully ignore today.

The stretching tips, however, sound pretty good to me right now. That and a dose of homeopathic arnica might be just the thing.

Thoughts to share?

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