(Article originally appeared on Fitbit.com)
Jason Wachob is a paragon of vitality these days, but eight years ago the author of Wellth and founder of MindBodyGreen, a top destination for holistic health, could barely crawl out of bed in the morning.
“I flew 150,000 miles coach in a single year for my first startup company,” says Wachob. “When you’re 6’7”, that’s torture.” By the end of 2008, the former Columbia basketball player’s business went bust. He had nothing to show for it, but two bulging disks in his lower back.
“It was excruciating pain. I literally couldn’t even walk a block,” says the New York City dweller, referring to his inflamed sciatic nerve.
Wachob visited doctor after doctor. And each one revealed the same grim prognosis: Get back surgery, or be crippled for life.
The Yoga Prescription
“As an afterthought,” mentions Jason, “the last doctor said, ‘Oh, you might want to give yoga a try too.’ So I started light yoga for 15 minutes in the morning and evening. And within 6 months, I was completely healed.”
That’s an audacious claim. But Wachob believes his choice was simple. “I’m a pretty optimistic guy. So I knew one way or another I was going to be fine. I thought if the yoga thing doesn’t work out, I’ll just have surgery and I’ll be fine.”
So he started practicing yoga with just five poses for his lower back. And week after week, he began to feel better. The pain receded gradually, then it disappeared entirely. “It’s really important to find a teacher and practice that works for you.” Jason says about opting for natural movement over surgery. “You need that to persist long enough to see the benefits.”
Though Wachob found his cure through yoga, there are plenty of options to manage your pain and heal your body through movement.
3 More Ways to Find Pain Relief in Motion
A form of moving meditation, Harvard Health Publications calls Tai Chi “medication in motion.” Peter M. Wayne, assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, notes a growing body of evidence shows Tai Chi is useful for preventing and rehabbing many age related conditions.
Water-based movements reduce the effect of gravity, which can broaden your range of motion and reduces impact on your joints. Aquatic therapy is often used to treat fibromyalgia pain and to improve quality of life.
Slack-lining is a form of tight-rope walking that has become popular on college campuses in the last four years. But according to one study, it can be useful for rehabbing injured ankles and knees. “[It may] be useful for athletes to increase sports performance in general, but also for advanced therapy after ACL ruptures or ankle sprains,” Juergen Pfusterschmied, the lead researcher on the study, explained to Men’s Journal.
Pain prevents you from getting your steps in. So does recovery time from surgery. But, like Jason Wachob, you might be able to eliminate both by regularly practicing natural, healing movements. Discuss treatment options with your doctor, decide which combination of movements are right for you, and find the best instructors in your area.