A Crick In My Back「 背中のけいれん」

Hello, this is Simon.

Earlier this month I put my back out. It actually started in late November after mowing the lawn. I felt a bit of a crick in my back when I had finished. It didn’t seem like anything to worry about, as I had had that kind of pain that many times in the past and gotten through it.

However, late November and December is not the best this time of year for me. Everything seems to come at once in both my work and private life, and I often break my back just trying to get all the necessary things done by the end of the year. I tend to overdo it, so it isn’t uncommon for me to fall ill in December. My wife tells me to slow down, but I don’t seem to be able to. It’s the same every year, so it usually gets her back up.

I actually knew I should take it easy, but I had so much to do. I had my back against the wall again. I thought I could just put my back into everything and push through, and over time and my back would get better, and it did briefly, but subsequently over a two week period it got worse and worse. Then one morning I woke up and could barely move…

If I tried to move from my back to my side I would get a shot of pain that caused me to cry out a couple of times. I needed to get up, and actually managed to somehow, but it took more that 20 minutes just to stand. That day I went to an orthopedic clinic, who gave me a corset and some medication. I paid a couple of more visits over the next week, but didn’t see any real improvement. I then tried another clinic, who gave me an MRI, and told me I had a herniated lower disc in my back.

I was shocked but at the same time relieved, because I knew the exact problem, so l a better idea of how to go about fixing it. It has since been improving over the last couple of weeks, but I did have one major setback, which I’ll tell you about in the next blog.

Since I had issue with my back recently, I thought it would be a good opportunity to introduce some expressions and idioms related to the word “back”.

“I put my back out”

To “put your back out” means to hurt your back, usually from doing something strenuous, so that it continues to hurt or give you problems for a period of time (e.g. I put my back out when I was lifting some heavy boxes the other day.)

“a crick in my back”

To have a “crick in your back” means to have back pain or stiffness in your back. It is often caused by stiff muscles or muscle spasms.

“I often break my back”

The expression to “break one’s back” means to work very hard at something or to put all of your energy into something (e.g. She broke her back getting the project finished by the deadline.)

“it usually gets her back up”

If something “gets your back up” it annoys you or makes you feel angry (e.g. Hearing him take credit for something that another person had done really got her back up.)

“I had my back against the wall”

To “have your back against the wall” means to be in either a defensive position or a very difficult position. For example: “I am constantly putting out fires at work (dealing with problems). I really have my back against the wall.”

“put my back into everything”

To “put your back into” something means to put a lot of effort into that thing. It can be physically (e.g. We put our backs into cleaning up after the event.) or metaphorically (e.g. I put my back into maintaining good business relations with the other company.)

I wish you all the best for the New Year, and see you in 2023!


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Hello! My name is Simon. I am from New Zealand, and have been living and teaching English in Japan since 1999. My hobbies include movies, playing the guitar, gardening and hiking.