Shoulders Down

September 5, 2017


This is Chad (street name “Shoulders Down”). He looks like a nice guy, doesn’t he? Yeah – watch out. Chad is DANGEROUS!

He teaches the stretch class at Body Dynamics. I liked the idea of taking a stretch class because my idea of stretching is (now) being able to get my hands somewhere near my feet in a “touch your toes” posture.

(This is a great departure from my youth, when being flexy and stretchy meant sitting on my butt, holding the arch of my foot in one hand, and then straightening my leg out somewhere near my ear. That’s a distant and quite laughable dream now, but once I really could do it!)

But Chad is something extremely dangerous: he is THOROUGHLY EDUCATED. Chad could care about feet and ears; Chad has OTHER PLANS. Like – do you know what your IT band is? (Not your “it” band – we say “eye-tee” because we know what that means and like a little shortcut.) (Yeah – don’t ask me. I’ve been told twenty times and forgotten twenty times. I know it does not stand for Information Technology, Intestinal Turbidity, or Iberian Turmeric; beyond that you’re on your own.)

It’s a strap that runs under your skin from your hip bone to your knee, about where your hand would hit if you held your hands at your sides. I never knew it was there because I seem to have established an unspoken détente with my IT band; I don’t bother it and it doesn’t bother me.

BUT NO. Here comes Chad, with the light of zealotry in his eye. (This is rank miscasting; Chad is kind and calm and very, very opposed to causing any pain at all.) He puts foam rollers on the ground, arranges his students in improbable poses on the foam rollers, and has us roll ourselves over and back, across the IT band WHICH OBJECTS STRENUOUSLY.

So of course I object strenuously, too – to which Chad offers a kind smile and the comment “Good stuff!” He is nefarious.

And then when I stand up, I’m easily six inches taller. I have no idea how.

Chad says that as soon as the lower body feels any tension, the shoulders creep upward in sympathy, so his constant murmur as he prowls the room checking alignments is “Shoulders down.” And EVERY SINGLE TIME I discover that by damn, my shoulders have crept up again. How is that possible?? I was focused on keeping them down. I look away for two seconds and BOING! Like a spring. Up the shoulders come.

And why does it matter if the shoulders are up? “I’m picky,” Chad says with approval and warmth in his voice. And that makes me want to please him, so I push my shoulders down again. Doesn’t matter; they pop up like a Weebles Wobble But They Don’t Fall Down, but I’ll keep trying. He knows more than I do, and my IT band is SO limber now.

(Not really; I continue to not be able to feel my IT band unless I’m rolling over it, but I trust it’s better now than it was before!)

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