Back pain is a special kind of agony that makes you perform all your day-to-day tasks in ridiculous slow motion. And not the awesome kind of slow motion -- all the bullet dodging and dramatic theme music is replaced with bitter rage and sweat-laced anxiety over the logistics of getting out of an armchair. And as soon as somebody sees you grunting around the house, they'll say, "You need to get in bed, mister! You'll wind up crippling yourself if you don't rest that back!" It makes sense, until you realize that science says they're wrong.
Basically you're kind of being a drama queen.
The New England Journal of Medicine (supported by other research) came to the conclusion that "as little as two days of bed rest may lead to a slower recovery than the avoidance of bed rest, as well as to longer sick leaves." That's right -- they say just to walk it off.
So ditch the cane and man up, grandpa.
There's also the frightening notion suggested by some studies that "bed rest alone may make back pain worse and can lead to secondary complications such as depression, decreased muscle tone and blood clots in the legs." All of this research is in reference to acute lower-back pain, which is the common "Holy titgoblins I pulled my back, put the fridge down PUT IT DOWN" kind.
To recover from your horrible wrenching back agony, scientists say that you have to earn it. Standing up and moving around, doing exercises, even just going about your regular day-to-day business is all much better for the recovery process than simply staying bedridden like Gilbert Grape's mom and allowing the damaged tissue in your back to stiffen and atrophy.
"Quit bitching and grab a second box. We can't afford a trip to the doctor."
Chances are, when summer vacation or the holidays come around and you're given time off work or school, your sleeping patterns falter a little bit ("a little bit" is a phrase that here means "you play video games until the 'a.m.' and 'p.m.' dot on your alarm clock has completely lost its meaning"). The thing is, you know you're going to be screwed once the holidays are over and you have to go back to getting up at 6 or 7 a.m., and that you'll be a zombie at work or school for at least a week. Sure, you could do the responsible thing and gradually set your alarm earlier and earlier each day until it's just right, giving you a smooth and healthy transition to work-life. Or, you could use one of your body's cheat codes and readjust your sleep cycle by starving yourself for about 16 hours.
Don't forget to compensate for the hunger madness.
You might know that the main way our body regulates its biological clock (and circadian rhythm) is through light. So when your brain is detecting light, it has your body behave as it should in the daytime (higher energy, greater strength, more bowel movements, etc.), and when the brain notices that the environment is dark after an extended period of brightness, then it imagines you're about to go to sleep, and it releases hormones (like melatonin) that make you sleepy. What you might not have known is that scientists recently found a second clock, and instead of depending on light, this one is food-based.
The food-clock desires this.
Imagine you're a predator out hunting for food (and Jesse Ventura), but all the regular animals you would eat are nowhere to be found. You spend the entire day looking for food and find nothing. About 16 hours later your brain starts freaking out. It knows that if you can't find food, the jig will most certainly be up. So at this point, your brain doesn't give a tinkerer's damn about sunlight and sleep cycles -- it just wants you to find something to eat, and fast. You stay up well into the night and eventually find some nocturnal prey, devouring it desperately. Your brain (through the food-clock) makes a note of this time and declares it to be your new biological morning.
The slaying of pizza rolls has set countless new biological mornings.
It makes sense -- your brain is now under the impression that if you want to survive, you can only go hunting at night. So it decides you should sleep during the day (to conserve energy for the hunt) and boom, your sleep-wake cycle has been reset. Congratulations! You've tricked evolution!
For more ways to turn yourself into a badass, check out 5 Superpowers You Didn't Know Your Body Was Hiding From You and 5 Ways To Hack Your Brain Into Awesomeness.
If you're pressed for time and just looking for a quick fix, then check out Debate: Should Hotels Charge for Wi-Fi?.
And stop by LinkSTORM to learn how you can Cheeto dust in steroids (using your imagination).
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