When I was a child, I had a rag doll. You know the kind, two dimensional, with the stringy red hair, flat face with painted eyes, nose and smiley mouth. I used to take that doll everywhere. Mindlessly, I’d throw it around, swing it by its legs. Hell, I think I ran it over a few times with my bike! It was indestructible, or so I thought. One day, I found a rip. It was small, but there it was, right under the armpit. I remember thinking, “No, it can’t be. How did this happen?” Of, course, in retrospect, I knew.
This was pretty much my reaction when I recently threw my back out, just before I was to get on a plane to Las Vegas for my son’s 21st birthday. There I was reaching down and a moment later in excruciating pain. “No, it can’t be.” What is doubly painful is that I’m a Fitness Professional, I work all day long to rehabilitate and prevent this type of injury. Hmm….”How did this happen?”
It got me thinking about how we treat our bodies like a Rag Doll. From the moment we get up in the morning till the time we retire, we throw our bodies around mindlessly, not even thinking about our movements, body alignments, proper form, posture, etc. Think about doing the everyday things that we have been doing all our lives, like getting out of bed, or getting in and out of our cars, bending and reaching, vacuuming, mowing our lawns, etc. We give our bodies no more thought while we are doing these things, taking it for granted, until one day that tear, rip, pull and pain.
So, what I did was slow it down a little and THINK about the simple movements. Usually, if there is a symptom, there is a solution, if we look hard enough. Also, it is not that particular movement at that time that, pardon the expression, “broke the camel’s back”, it is an accumulation of overworked muscles and imbalances in others and inflexibility. AND, we are weak or not utilizing our core muscles, you know those abs, obliques and erector muscles everyone is envying. Forget the six pack people, get the balance and strength. Believe me, when you have a bad back, who the heck cares how your abs look? Check your posture! Are you walking like the Hunch Back of Notre Dam, dumb. Is your stride too long? Do you use too much of your back instead of your legs when walking up the stairs? Do you reach too far in with your right leg, getting into the car, and pulling your left leg in after you have torqued your hips? Do you bend from the back, instead of the hips and knees when picking something up? Yes you do, we all do.
So, stop and slow it down. Think about what you are doing, when you are doing it. Be gentle with yourself and you will not be worse for wear.
Love and peace,