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Leader of the Back…er, Pack | Inspiration for your Aching Back

You could say that Ol’ Arthur beats my butt, or that I have a hitch in my git-along. In short, my back hurts.

Since the lifetime prevalence of musculoskeletal injuries among nurses is as high as 80%, I am guessing you are sympathetic, but not impressed. Your back probably hurts too.

I started attending exercise classes after I had been a nurse for a while, so I had to learn from the get-go how to work out with a bad back. Kickboxing, step, Pilates, trampoline, circuit, resistance training…I figured out the back-friendly way to do each one.

I did push-ups against the wall. I lifted barbells without any weights on the ends. I roundhouse-kicked like someone stepping over a puddle. I did ballet releves when everyone else was jumping up and down, a substitution friendly to the bladder as well as the back. I marched in place a lot. I was in an exclusive relationship with the only pair of one-pound hand weights at the gym.

I’m not sure when everyone else at the gym suddenly got a lot younger than me, and somewhat disdainful of my exercise modifications. I think it was around the same time that the gauntlet of body-builders to be run between the gym door and the ladies’ changing room grew better tans, whiter teeth, and less body hair than I had. I started feeling sheepish about my exercise limitations. I decided it was time for a change. I began to Jazzercise.

Jazzercise has worked out well for me. The exercise is effective, challenging, and fun, and the instructors are modification-friendly. I have made so much progress that I have started practicing serial monogamy with ever-heavier sets of hand weights, and just ordered a pair of seven-pounders on-line. My triceps are looking good.

The other day, a new Jazzericse instructor complimented me on how well I do exercise modifications. In fact, she asked if it would be OK to discreetly point me out as a ‘how-to’ example for new or limited exercisers. She said I should just tell her if this would make me feel self-conscious or embarrassed, in which case she wouldn’t do it.

Embarrassed? Heck, no! It’s nice not to feel sheepish anymore. In fact, I feel like the leader of the flock. I mean, leader of the pack.

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