“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

First For Women - - Health - —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

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