Lab Assignment #1

Problem: For about the past month, my lower back has been hurting. Don’t ask me how I know, but this pain doesn’t come from fibromyalgia. This is good old-fashioned getting-old back pain, the kind that presages a day when I will bend over to pick up a pencil off the floor and end up sleeping on that floor for a week and wishing I had vacuumed better.

Hypothesis: Leg lifts may help this back pain.

Additional problem: Ego. Back when I was a martial artist (and any sentence that begins with “back when I was a martial artist” is going to be a sentence about ego), there were nights when I did six hundred leg lifts in the course of a two-hour workout. And then went home and did fifty more in my living room, because I couldn’t stand the thought of my instructor cackling to himself about how he had destroyed us with the six hundred. Half the time the reason I avoid exercise has to do not with pain but with the emotions that will resurface when I start to use these long-forgotten muscles. I will get down there to do twenty and before I know it I’ll have done fifty. And then the fibromyalgia pain will begin, on top of the back pain, on top of the emotions, and there’s the end of the exercise program.

Procedure: Complete twenty leg lifts two times per day. Twenty in the morning, twenty at night. No more. No less. Repeat for two weeks. Evaluate results.


Fri, 2/3, 1:30 pm: 20 leglifts completed.

Fri, 2/3, 8:00 pm: 20 leglifts completed.

Sat, 2/4, 9:00 am: 20 leglifts completed. Don’t look now, but I swear I woke up with less lower back pain. Or maybe I just woke up with more pain everywhere else. Everything is relative.

Sat, 2/4, 6:30 pm: 20 leglifts completed. Had to do them early before I fell asleep standing up (see Lab Assignment #2).

Sun, 2/5, 8:45 am: 20 leglifts completed. Today I DID wake up with lower back pain. Go figure.

Sun, 2/5, 7:45 pm: 20 leglifts completed.

Mon, 2/6, 9:00 am: 20 leglifts completed.

Mon, 2/6, 11:15 pm: 20 leglifts completed.

Tues, 2/7, 9:20 am: 20 leglifts completed.

Tues, 2/7, 9:15 pm: 20 leglifts completed. All good.

Wed, 2/8, 11 am: It occurred to me that I should be including some daily assessment of my level of back pain, even if it has to be subjective. Sorry – I’m new to this business of isolating and testing variables. I would say that my level of lower back pain on a 1-10 scale was a 3.5 when I woke up this morning. 20 leglifts completed.

Wed, 2/8, 7:00 pm: I would say that my lower back pain stayed around a 3.5-4 level all day. Usually it gets better as the day goes on. 20 leglifts completed. Overall I don’t see a lot of change one way or another.

Thursday, 2/9, 12:15 pm: Low pack pain was at about a 5 when I woke up and about a 2.5 now. 20 leglifts completed.

Thurs, 2/9: 11 pm: 20 leglifts completed. Had some mild low back pain throughout the day (a 3 or 4).

Fri, 2/10, 9:45 am: Not much lower back pain this morning, although I had plenty while I was trying to fall asleep last night. 20 leglifts completed.

Fri, 2/10, 8:30 pm: 20 leglifts completed.

Sat, 2/11, 7 am: 20 leglifts completed. Post-acupuncture vertigo made these leglifts extra exciting – sort of like doing them on a balance board. No back pain at all right now.

Sat, 2/11, 10:15 pm: 20 leglifts completed. No back pain right now, but I did have some that was on the more severe side (5.5 or s0) this afternoon when I was doing the dishes.

Sun, 2/12, 11 am: 20 leglifts completed. Lower back pain level was around a 2.5.

Sun, 2/12, 10:45 pm: 20 leglifts completed. This was the first set in this whole experiment that was difficult, not because my back hurt but just because I have absolutely no energy today. Not sure what’s up.

Mon, 2/13, 1:30 pm: 20 leglifts completed.

Mon, 2/13, 9:30 pm: 20 leglifts completed. Very little back pain today.

Tues, 2/14, 10:45 am: 20 leglifts completed. No lower back pain at all today (although I did take a pain pill last night, so I’m not going to be too quick to credit either the leglifts or good luck).

Wed, 2/15, 11:15 am: Last night I didn’t do my leglifts. I was in bed by 8 with post-acupuncture exhaustion. I did remember the leglifts, but by the time I thought of them I was almost asleep. 20 leglifts completed this morning. Very mild lower back pain (about a 1.5).

Wed, 2/15, 8:45 pm: 20 leglifts completed.

Thurs, 2/16, 7:30 am: 20 leglifts completed. No lower back pain to speak of.

Thurs, 2/16, 6:30 pm: 20 leglifts completed.



I accept my hypothesis that these leglifts are helpful. I am definitely not free of pain in my lower back, but I do think that my core muscles are feeling stronger. I am going to continue this routine for two more weeks without making any changes, and then I am going to consider increasing the number of leglifts I do daily if that seems like a good idea at the time. In addition, I am going to add some shoulder shrugs with the theraband to help ease my shoulder pain. These shrugs helped my shoulder pain some time ago. So every morning and every night I am going to do 20 leglifts and 3 sets of 15 shrugs with the theraband.

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