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back injuries, stand-up throwing, etc.

updated wed 12 jul 00


Jennifer F Boyer on sun 9 jul 00

Finally got around to looking at this article from 1987. In my
family, we've found a different solution.

For any potters with back problems, I strongly recommend
finding a book about back pain by Dr. John Sarno. He's written
2. The first was called Healing Back Pain. His theory is that
95 percent of chronic back pain is caused by muscle contractions
alone, not nerves, not disks. He says that if you cat scan any
middle aged person you are liable to find signs of disk
irregularities, herniated ones, etc. But that doesn't
necessarily mean it will cause pain. He says life stresses and
tension can trigger painful spasms in the muscles in the trunk:
low back or neck(any muscles that need to work all the time to
hold you up). These spasms can become chronic when the
constant worry about the back pain adds to the life stresses.
Thinking about pinched nerves and bulging disks is very
intimidating, but a clenched muscle is not such a scary thing.

My husband had years of back trouble before reading this book.
He had gone to his doctor, got a cat scan, and was told he had
herniated disks. They sent him to physical therapy, which helped
during the sessions and immediately after, but the pain always
came back. Then his sister told him about Sarno's book. It took
him 6 months to incorporate it's message(mainly don't worry
about your back) into his life, but that was 15 years ago and he
hasn't had a lasting back problem since even with his herniated
disks! Spasms go away in a day or 2. He went back to running
triathlons after not being able to walk to the mailbox.

My muscle tension problem happens in my neck and area around
the wing bone in the upper back. I've found that attending
regular yoga classes helps this, as yoga teaches you how to
relax your muscles. After attending my first yoga class I
realized I was driving a car with my shoulders pulled up! Never
had noticed before. Also I've had low back pain that gave me
sciatica! It can be caused by muscles spasms. I used to get
chrinic low back pain too, until I read the book. No more. If
pain starts, I can stretch it out.

My yoga teacher is a massage therapist and says that muscles
can _forget_ how to relax in a normal way, forget what normal
is, treat clenched as normal. I know this is what happens when
I have pain, because certain stretching exercises make the pain
go away. So when I have pain, instead of tensing my body, trying
to hold my body in a way that avoids the pain(impossible and
tension provoking), I do exercises that stretch the place that

Throwing standing up never has worked for me because I just
develop pain in my legs and feet.....

SO if you have back pain, keep looking for a solution. It's not
necessarily the kind of problem the doctors say it is. I know
many people who have been helped by Sarno. Including one person
who had back surgery but still had back pain!

Hope this helps someone......nothing like back pain to make a
potter rethink the career

David Hendley wrote:
> ----- Original Message -----
> | There's a great article by John P. Glick: "To Sciatica and Back: A
> | Potter's Journey". It was published in Studio Potter Magazine.
> | Do they have a website w/archive?
> | Scott Barber, Halifax, N.S.
> Yes. The article is posted on the website, free to read, at:
> Main page:
> --
> David Hendley
> Maydelle, Texas
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Jennifer Boyer
Thistle Hill Pottery
Vermont USA

Check out these sites about web hoaxes:

Janet Kaiser on sun 9 jul 00

In addition to all the good advice, I would like to add
a couple of things:

1. Check out your bed. It should be supportive but not
so hard you wake up with bits of you dead or still
sound asleep!

2. Keep sleeping periods as short as you can. I used to
suffer dreadful back ache, but as soon as I started
sleeping just 4 or 5 hours per night (instead of 8 to
10) the back troubles stopped. If I have a rare "lie
in" these days, it takes me a good couple of hours
loosen up again!

3. Keep your weight under control. Sadly my weight is
way above what is regarded as desirable for my height,
but my doctor told me he would not do anything about my
back until I lost 10% of my body weight... Yes, he is
cruel by nature, but you sometimes have to be cruel to
be kind.

4. Avoid repetitive movements over long periods of
time. Does not matter what you are doing, take regular
breaks and do some limbering and loosening exercises.
Better still, divide your days into task zones. This
helps concentration and creativity as well as backs.

Janet Kaiser
The Chapel of Art . Capel Celfyddyd
Criccieth LL52 0EA, GB-Wales Tel: (01766) 523570

Milton Markey on tue 11 jul 00

Hi Everybody!

My experience with back pain comes from having two surgeries, on the lumbar
spine. I now have a clean bill of health, but the lack of a flexible disc in
L4-5, makes it difficult to bend, lift heavy things, or to stay seated for a
long (45-60 minutes) period of time. For the first surgery, a bone fusion
proceedure was done, taking a small sliver of bone material from my right
hip. My hip still sings of the loss of bone! My doctor says the hip will
become less painful over time.

The physical therapy I underwent after surgery #2 was extraordinarily
effective. It's based on the book "You Can Take Care Of Your Own Back,"
written by a back specialist in New Zealand, whose name I don't recall.

The one exercise I do daily, which cuts back pain levels down, is to lie on
my stomach for short periods of time, with my arms in a "push up" position.
Slowly, I let my chest, shoulders, and head rise. Then I relax, and am prone
for a few minutes. I repeat the "slow rise and slow fall" for a 15-minute
interval, then rest, face down.

I occasionally attend yoga and stretching classes. Most community colleges
offer this. I also continue to watch my weight, and take a four-mile walk
every other day.

Back to the studio! Looks like summer desert monsoons are on the horizon,
according the the satellite TV weatherman.

Best wishes!

Milton NakedClay@AOL.COM