First For Women

“3 minutes a day saved my back!”

Severe lower-back pain left Judy Herbst, 54, sitting on the sidelines for years. Then she discovered the free and easy solution that restored her health and turned her life around

- —as told to Lisa Maxbauer

Maybe I should have stayed home… this pain is too much,” Judy Herbst said to herself with a sigh at her daughter’s lacrosse match. “I’d been looking forward to that game all week, and I didn’t want to miss a moment of the action or the chance to socialize with friends. But with my back pain it was impossible to sit on the hard bleachers. So once again, I found myself standing off to the side alone, trying to lean against a wall for support. As I listened to the distant crowd roar and wondered what I had missed, it struck me how my physical limitation­s were making me feel old and isolated.

Missing out on life

“I had considered myself to be in pretty good shape… until back pain became a daily occurrence in my life. Sitting at my work computer was torture. The pain actually made it difficult to concentrat­e. But standing was agony too. I could no longer wear heels. Within minutes of arriving at a cocktail party, I would find myself shifting my weight between different legs before giving up, sitting down alone and missing out on the conversati­ons.

“Pain spoiled so many special moments that it really started to take a toll on my mood. My husband and I had always been good about making small activities feel special. But even cuddling on the couch together to watch TV felt uncomforta­ble.

“At first I blamed poor posture and a few stubborn pounds for the pain. And I knew my core muscles had weakened over the years and

that strengthen­ing those muscles was important, but who has the time and energy to go to the gym? I felt so crummy that just getting through each day already seemed like too much effort.

“I hit a low after a trip to Maryland to visit family for my aunt’s 60th wedding anniversar­y party. Pain shooting up the right side of my back made the five-hour drive miserable and almost ruined the whole trip. This was no way to live.

“When I got back home, I finally went to an orthopedic doctor, who offered me medication and sent me on my way without providing any real answers. But I didn’t like the idea of having to rely on prescripti­on pills, so I just kept on taking a couple over-thecounter pain relievers every day and hoping for the best.

“I dreamed of finding a more natural remedy, but I didn’t want to consult a parade of doctors. My sister, who had endured slipped discs and back surgery, had seen enough specialist­s for both of us. She had tried massage, chiropract­ic care and acupunctur­e yet still lived in pain. Thinking of her struggle, I started to really worry about my future.

A simple fix

“Though I had been trying to stay strong, I finally admitted to my husband, Robert, how bad I was feeling. He was an amateur power lifter and I was amazed at how he could put his body through intense strain without injuring his back. So even though I usually zoned out when he talked about fitness—what does a male weight lifter know about a woman’s body anyway?—I asked him for advice.

“Robert thought doing a few easy moves each morning would help me get my back on the right track. He taught me a three-minute routine that I could do while lying down on my bed or the floor. “The first day, I couldn’t complete all 10 repetition­s of the exercises because of pain and inflexibil­ity. But I was determined to keep trying. And after a few mornings, I began looking forward to the routine. It felt like a massage for my sore muscles.

“The amazing part: After just four weeks, my back pain was gone! It was life-changing. Those exercises worked better than any pain medicine—and didn’t cost a dime! My mood and stamina shot up. I could even take my high-energy puppy on long walks. My love handles got smaller, and suddenly, my jeans fit again!

“It’s been 10 months now and my recovery is miraculous. I’m making memories again—mingling at parties, cheering on my kids from the bleachers at games and comfortabl­y standing outside for stargazing with Robert. Thank goodness I listened to my husband on this one! We’ve been together for 30 years, so I guess he can be right once in a while. Just don’t tell him that—I don’t want it to go to his head!”

“After just four weeks, my back pain was gone! It was life-changing.”

—Judy Herbst

 ??  ?? Judy Herbst, Larchmont, NY
Judy Herbst, Larchmont, NY

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