Ice Grin


I’m sure it will come as a tremendous surprise to learn that the East Coast is in the grips of an arctic blast (because no one anywhere is talking about it, right? I mean – SHUT UP. It’s cold. Get over it!).

I think I’m the only person moving through this polar landscape with a huge grin peeking out from the layers of coat and hat and scarf – because if you don’t walk FAST through this weather, you’ll freeze solid to the ground like the Greek gods have rooted you next to the stream and now you have to be a laurel tree for the rest of time. Or something.

My point: I need to move quickly from car to door. Sometimes that’s the three feet across the garage (in which case I can mosey) – but sometimes it’s a few blocks because I found a parking space and the office where I’m dropping off some papers is down the road a step. Or from the movie theater to the parking garage.

Half the time I’m thinking, like everyone else, DAMN it’s cold out here.

And half the time I’m thinking “I am really moving fast – and well. This feels AWESOME.”

You know how you don’t know how blissful it is for your toe to NOT hurt until you stub it bad and realize just how much that toe was doing for you, silently and unprotestingly, until now? Well, that’s me with my back, but in reverse. First the hurt, and then the lack of hurt.

When I first asked Barbara (at Body Dynamics in Falls Church, Virginia – and you’d best hope you live nearby, for they are amazing and sooner or later you’re going to need them) to help me get into better shape, she used Sherlockian skills to finally narrow down WHY I don’t like exercising. The answer is because I tilt my pelvis down. Not out of laziness – it’s just the way I am. But that puts a significant strain on the lower and mid back. It means my lower abdomen wasn’t doing its job, and that my thighs were compensating for butt muscles that had been coasting for decades.

So when I walked more than thirty or forty paces, my back muscles would get tight and tired and angry. I always wanted to stop and sit, to stretch the back muscles.

If you’re very bored and housebound in snow and ice, you can read back through this blog to witness the beginning of my learning process (for it surely continues through this day) – but the shortcut is: I can walk now (and walk fast) without putting any strain on my back. And it feels DAMNED GOOD.

People have smiled at me indulgently and said “You know, you can’t change your gait. That’s how you’re put together.” And I’m here to say they are WRONG. I have changed my gait; I’ve built up the muscles that pull my pelvis into the proper alignment. I no longer walk like a duck, with my feet splayed so far out to the side that you could follow me on a crowded beach just based on my footprints in the sand.

This is just the beginning of my process; I know that. I went over my HEP (Home Exercise Program) with Barbara recently and was shocked to discover that it was getting easier because I was ignoring the need to crunch up those lower abs. DAMN IT. So THAT’S why my back was bitching so hard every morning; how disappointing that the “neutral pelvis” position still isn’t instinctive yet. There’s more work to be done… but I can walk through icy climes with confidence and no pain – allowing me to focus on how efficiently metal eyeglasses can trap cold against the orbital sockets holy mother. I can even give in and trot to the car. Without any discomfort at all.

Yeah. I’m grinning.


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