December 27, 2011

Best Therapy for a Bad Back: A Walk in D.C.'s Palisades (with photos)

When I crashed my car and fractured a vertebrae in August, my doctors said I'd need about four months to recover. August + four  months = NOW, right?

When I recently saw my back doc to tell him about continuing pain, he said the vertebrae had indeed healed. He also informed me there was an accumulation of arthritis in my lower back -- the culprit now. He said exercise could help, and prescribed two physical therapy sessions a week for four weeks. So far, I've had three PT sessions and have concluded that they focus primarily on standard back pain exercises that are easily found on the web and done at home. See for example. Additional clinic-based exercises are added... I think mainly to "justify the visit." Unfortunately, during my last visit, one of those add-ons did more harm than good.

So far, the best exercise advice from the doctor has been "just walk through the pain." I wish I'd forced myself to follow this suggestion. But since the pain occurs only when I stand and walk, it's easy to find excuses to stay put in the easy chair... or in bed.

My family celebrated the holiday this year on Christmas Eve, so Christmas Day and Monday's holiday were event-free on my calendar. The sunny, mild weather created an incentive to get out there and explore my beloved Palisades neighborhood.

Christmas Day Walk
Only on Christmas Day would you find the streets this deserted during afternoon "rush-hour" time:

Kids and parents checked out new gift bikes and basketballs at the "recreation center":

Others got a headstart on the spring baseball season:

Near the recreation center is the woodland sculpture garden I discovered last month (and reported on in an earlier post). These sculptures seem to keep changing, as if they have a life of their own:

Monday's Walk
In the D.C. area, we had one of the most beautiful falls in my memory, thanks to a very wet September. Sadly, my bad pain kept me off the local trails for most of the autumn, but on Monday I finally felt up to it. I picked the shorter trail that heads toward the river from MacArthur Boulevard, the main thoroughfare through my Palisades neighborhood. It's a lovely walk in any season.

Here's a look back toward the street as I head down the path:

Standing in the same spot, I turn around and get a glimpse of the canal and towpath with the river sparkling in the distance. (When I first moved into the Palisades in 1959, a trestle spanned this little valley to carry trolley cars between the city and the Maryland suburbs. For an earlier photo post, give this a click.)

The path arrives at this overlook above the canal, tow path, and river:

The path now follows the old trolley car route to the next stop near my old house at 5030 Sherier. But first, I take a look back at the river:

This sure as hell beats exercising in a PT clinic... and my back feels much better!

1 comment:

Mat Thorp said...

I go for your kind of therapy. My gerontologist prescribed Sibley Physical Therapy-two sessions were two too many.
Walking in the `hood can lead one to interest watering holes.--Mat