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Back In Alignment


For as long as I can remember, I’ve had neck and back pain. Some days it’s one or the other, some days both. Occasionally it can be debilitating, but more often than not, it’s just annoying, the kind of pain that holds you back from being or participating fully in life. I think the genesis of my back pain was from a really bad crash when I was ski racing in high school. The spine is a delicate creature, and one good twang can create a lifetime of annoying symptoms. There were other minor incidents over the years, but the coup de grace came about 25 years ago: I had a run-in with a bad cup of clam chowder that landed me in the hospital for four days with food poisoning. I won’t go into detail, but let’s just say I don’t eat clam chowder anymore, and the strain on my body ruptured a disc in my lower back.

Anyone who suffers from neck or back pain knows you will do anything to avoid it. And should the pain present itself, no treatment is too “out there” if it provides relief. Over the years I’ve tried medication, acupuncture, chiropractic, ultra sound, physical therapy, massage therapy, cupping, yoga, gravity inversion, ice, heat, alcohol… you name it. I even consulted a neurosurgeon who put the fear of God in me about all the things that could go wrong, so I never went down that route. Some therapies have worked better than others, but always the pain was there, lurking in the shadows, holding me back from becoming my full self.

This afternoon I was getting a massage from Adina, whose hands have worked miracles in the past. My neck had been so tight that I was clenching my teeth, and my hips were sending shock waves down my legs they were so locked up. As she worked the muscles in my cervical spine, she tried to coax a displaced vertebrae back into alignment. After a while I felt something akin to a pop, more like a thump, kind of a twang. “Did you feel that?” she asked. “Yes, what was that?” “That was your vertebrae moving back into place.”

Something told me what had just happened was significant, perhaps life changing. That particular vertebrae had been out of alignment for so long, I had forgotten what neutral – normal –  felt like. What happened when it moved was so subtle – no drama, no fireworks – just a feeling of rightness.

Maybe that’s how big changes happen in life. Quietly, subtly, without fanfare. Somewhere deep inside your spirit says “Ahh…” and lets you know all is well. I feel aligned – harmonious – right now. I’ll still take her recommended dosage of Ibuprofen tonight, but something has shifted and it feels… good.

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With her fresh, uncensored take on fashion and life, SARA CORNELL tells it like it is. Her topics range from how her affair ruined her life—or maybe it didn’t—to how marriage, and being single, wasn’t what she thought it would be. She’s a woman who likes studded black leather, high heels and red lipstick and practices yoga and meditation each day, rarely in the aforementioned garb. Sara writes about things we’re all thinking, but are too afraid, or too self-conscious, to say out loud. Simply put, Sara is refreshing. Sara can also be found on her blog,

6 thoughts on “Back In Alignment”

  1. I herniated L5/S1 when I drug a sofa up three flights of stairs by myself. I was 21 and have lived with pain since then. Happy your surgeon talked you out of surgery. My husband tried hundreds of cases against surgeons for problems associated with back surgery. No one’s back was worse than James’s, and with what he saw in the legal profession, he never advised surgery. The San Antonio Spurs’ bio-physiologist has kept my back in check for almost 10 years with a simple exercise: Lay on your back, knees bent, feet flat on the floor. Put a soft rubber ball, about 5-6″ in diameter, kind of like a kids toy soccer ball you can buy at Target, between your knees. Squeeze your knees together as hard as you can for a count of 10. Repeat 10 times. May not sound like magic, but it is. It keeps the muscles around your disc strong, so it makes it less likely to pop out again. When my back goes out, it’s always because I haven’t been doing my exercises, daily. xoxox, Brenda

  2. My back is OK (touch wood) but I have a bad shoulder from sports injuries and then shingles. I have yet to find the magic bullet but exercise helps. What particular speaks to me in your post are the lines, “Maybe that’s how big changes happen in life. Quietly, subtly, without fanfare. Somewhere deep inside your spirit says “Ahh…” and lets you know all is well.” I’m still looking for the Ahh on a couple of fronts but remain optimistic! xo

  3. Beautiful reminder, Sara. I agree with Jen, the line “Quietly, subtly, without fanfare… ” is delicious.
    I need to stop expecting thunderbolts and lightning as signs of change.

  4. I agree w/everyone else the takeaway about how change happens w/o fanfare is perfection. I live with a father in law who has had chronic neck/spine pain for years. It’s hard to watch, for sure.

  5. I love how you’ve closed this, “Quietly, subtly, without fanfare”. I think that’s the best type of change there is. And I’m so pleased to read that your back is feeling better! Esther xx

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