Today was my weekly physical therapy appointment and today I JOGGED.
I looked at my PT cross-eyed when he suggested I jog across the room (it's a big room - a sports facility-sized room) and back again. "Jog?" I asked "You want me to JOG! Umm... ok."
To back up a bit, this all came about because he is impressed with my progress to-date. Although we have steadily upped my strength routines in the last few weeks, I have not had any major flare-ups. Well, nothing unusual - just the usual pain. Which is progress on it's own because more exercise usually equals more pain. More exercise with same pain is therefore super-fantastic.
So, he was feeling ambitious with me today. We did lots of butt exercises (I'm gonna have a nice touchey by the time I'm done with this guy) and lots of "Monster Walks" (walking like a zombie across the room with a resistance band around my knees - I know attractive!) and then he said the jog thing.
Now, I don't know how much you remember of my laundry-list of shouldn'ts and won'ts and cant-even-try-that's, but jogging of any sort has been on there for some time. Even attempting to get all ambitious with a quick sprint across the road usually results in me feeling as though my right femur is about to dislodge from the hip socket. I am not exaggerating here, by the way. I exaggerate with A LOT of things on this blog for dramatic effect and will happily cop to it as needed but, on this particular point, I am literally describing what it has felt like to break out of a walk. So, understandably, just the idea of jogging boggled my mind.
The catch was, he said, that I had to do it so that he could barely hear my feel make a sound on the floor, which elicited a major "huh?" from me. How do you run without making a sound? Who does that? Except, maybe, cat burglar - a hobby which, though my past has been ever-so glam and exciting, I have never indulged in. Anyway, I digress.
The point was that I had to somehow prance my flabby, post-baby body across the open gym - a gym full of testosterone-hyped, professional and high school athletes - without making a sound. I couldn't see it so I asked my PT for a demonstration. "And exactly how do YOU jog across the room without making a sound?" I asked him.
He did indeed show me how and, to my horror, prancing was involved - or at least my interpretation of it. It was sort of a torso-straight, slightly leaning forward, ball-of-foot-landing, well... prance. Just like a Lipizzaner Stallion. Soooooper. However, when I mimmicked it, I gotta admit, it felt different - good different and a hell of a lot better that whatever jog I was doing before. Most importantly, I made it across the room and back without my femur popping out of my hip socket. That in itself is a progress report. Even Mr. PT was impressed. Jogging was not something either of us had anticipated adding to the routine this early on - for me, ever!
We ended the day's routine with more walking and some jogging, under supervision from his assistant, Dustin. That's where I got a lesson on walking. Apparently I've been doing it wrong for the last 35 years. DUH! I've been flapping the ball of my foot onto the floor like a duck and jerking my body up-and-down with each step in a way which Dustin very tactfully explained was not all that attractive to watch. (Gee, thanks. You think someone would have mentioned this before now!) Again I had to practice being almost soundless in my footfalls, which, for me, involved less worrying about my straight back, abs, knees, or legs, but more about my feet, rolling from heel through toe. Amazingly he also told me to widen my stride which, from my previous PT's advice, is something I have been trying to narrow for the past several months. (Let's hear it for another set of contradicting instructions.) By doing both I not only found that my walking felt less jerky but also more fluid. Also, according to Dustin, I looked a lot more graceful - BONUS!
What's crazy to me through all this learning to sit right, stand right, bend-over right, walk right and run right is that nobody ever teaches us this stuff as kids or young adults. While we're spending so much time nurturing our kids' minds and social skills we mostly forget to even concern ourselves with their physical development unless, of course, there is something grossly out-of-whack. If so many people are getting this stuff wrong, at it seems as though they may very well be from casual observation, and back pain is one of the most common causes of absence from work (which I believe it is) it seems to me that, as a society, we're missing something here.
Physically we're just sort of launched into the world with little more than instinct as our guide and it's little wonder that we injure ourselves repeatedly and, by the time we're in our 30s, wind up with chronic pain issues. Even when we try to do the right thing and head out to the gym to "feel the burn", we usually have no idea what we're doing, use poor form, and then injure ourselves again. For those of us who don't get to the gym, we let our core languish, forcing our backs to do more than the fair share of work, and further exacerbate our crappy body mechanics with basic muscle imbalances.
While everyone is looking at preventative lifestyle measures to reduce rates of diabetes, heart disease, and cancer, maybe we should also be looking at ways to teach ourselves to use our bodies correctly, to avoid back pain, neck pain, hip pain, and headaches?