Back along (as we say in Devon) when my lumbar spine was crocked and I had dosed it with that pack of frozen sausages in the absence of the peas, I also reached (carefully) for the only book I know that works when you have a crocked back...well two books actually.
Actually nine times out of ten you really can and having worked my way through every self-help back book in existence this is the one that wins for me. Although Sarah Key, who is a physiotherapist does recommend getting the once over from a physio, chiropractor or osteopath to isolate the problem, most of us with backs that misbehave tend to know where the problem lies and just get on with it.
Zap it with painkillers (and frozen sausages) and keep it moving for me.
Sarah Key explains everything really clearly and the exercises are all very detailed to help work towards sorting things out and, barring the need for surgical intervention, with the emphasis being on the owner of the back actually being the person who has to take responsibility for doing that, which makes sense too. There's positive thinking and mind over muscle spasm involved which really works because there can be nothing more guaranteed to reduce me to a state of terminal woe and melancholy than a crocked back.
I somehow become incapable of rational, logical thought.
So while I do my curl-ups and my lumbar rolling and toe touches to rehydrate that disc and decompress those vertebrae there's another book I have to find.
Sarah Key recommends something called a Back Block, which is akin to a house brick.
You lie on your back on the floor, place it under your sacrum and stretch out your lower spine across it...it's the most wonderful of wonderful things to do when you have an acute back. When I first started using Sarah Key's book back in 2000 you could order a back block for £25 which seemed expensive and I still don't have one, because I find The Oxford Companion to English Literature works just as well.
The one edited by Margaret Drabble is best, entertain no substitutes.
I'm sure it's exactly the right dimensions.
I think in desperation the Norton Complete Works of Shakespeare would probably be fine and if push came to shove I'd probably be able to make do with The Greatest Benefit to Mankind - A Medical History of Humanity From Antiquity to the Present by Roy Porter but I really it's Oxford and Drabble for me every time.
How much excruciating pain have I imparted into this poor book?
How many times have I blessed it and given thanks for its therapeutic qualities down the years?
I just have to look at it now and my heart lifts because I know relief from pain is but a lie down away, and if I need to find it it's usually still on the floor under the coffee table from the last time I needed to lie on the floor and use it.
I often just lie there and think of all that inspiration contained therin, all those books and authors to know about and immediately I start to feel better, so imagine my excitement a few weeks ago when this arrived.
It's the very new and gorgeous seventh edition and thankfully too broad to be of use as a back block so at last I have a copy that is not pain-related and perhaps I can use if for its intended purpose.
This one edited by Dinah Birch of the University of Liverpool,
'The Oxford Companion has long been established as the leading reference resource...unrivalled coverage pf all aspects of English literature - from writers, their works, and the historical and cultural context in which they wrote, to critics, literary theory, and allusions.'
Of course I want to add and 'a world leader in the treatment of acute backs' but Oxford University Press might not appreciate that, but it's also good to know what's inside this because I'll own up that I haven't really perused the other one that often.
Every time I think I really should look at it, I've been lying on it.
In fact this new and luscious volume has already been open several times this last week and weighing in at 5lb 2ozs, the same as a newborn Offspringette, that's giving me another whole lot to think about as I brace those stomach muscles and balance that spine as I pick it up.