Put your finger on the hollow of your throat. Now use the other hand to put your finger on your belly button. Is one hand exactly over the top of the other? (Wait—sorry. Go to a mirror first!)
For me, the answer is WHAT THE HELL.
My body, thinking it was perfectly upright and vertical, had such a torso twist that I’d say my collar-bone pointer was a full inch to the right of my belly-button pointer. WHAT??
Jorge, wonderous physical therapist at Body Dynamics (Falls Church, VA—if you’re anywhere nearby, these are the people you want working on you/with you), was watching my reaction in the mirror.
“But, Jorge,” I protested, “I’m straight up and down. I’d swear I was straight.”
“I know. Your body is convinced that this is the best alignment for you. We’re going to fix that and show you a better way.”
This moment of confusion came because—of course—Barbara (world’s most uncanny and skillful personal trainer and body science master; see above, re: Body Dynamics) has been working with me for a long time on why my adductor so often sings a piercingly high note. Ouch.
(Adductor: Long muscle from knee to pelvis, along the inside of the thigh. Attaches in a place that would make you feel vaguely discomforted were I to point to it.)
Barbara said, in her I Am Omniscient And Can Interpret Your Movements Through The Zoom Screen Like A Summer Beach Read way, “I think maybe one of your pelvic bones is out of alignment.”
I made a noise like a startled chicken, because it was my unlettered opinion that there is ONLY one pelvic bone; that the pelvis is one solid cradle from which femurs spring like Athena from Zeus’s forehead.
But not at all. The pelvis is made of TWO bones. More than that, there’s an actual JOINT between the two. Did you know? Me, neither.
The most obvious reason why is that so women can have babies—duh; should have realized that—but this is apparently an evolutionary advantage that men get, too. EVERYONE has a right pelvic bone and a left pelvic bone, with a tough little hinge in the middle. And the two can either BE misaligned or get KNOCKED out of alignment, after which the body adjusts and makes you think you’re standing straight up when in fact the hollow of your throat is a good inch to the west of your midline, which is a freaky thing to discover, I’m here to tell you.
So I had a conversation with Gwynne (Body Dynamics COO, but her secret identity is as a massage therapist of uncanny skill and damn, she’s on administrative leave and no one’s getting those magic fingers at the moment COME BACK TO US GWYNNE) and she said—Jorge. Jorge is the guy for you. She set up the appointment.
(And then she happened on me and Jorge standing in front of a large bank of mirrors at BDI; she lingered, smiling, in the background, and watched Jorge work his magic. But I knew she was there. YOU’RE RIGHT, GWYNNE: JORGE IS AMAZING!)
So here’s what Jorge did the FIRST time I went to see him:
Pulled my leg.
Literally. He did his observations and poking and prodding and used his clever hands to “see” what was going on in my body. Then he had me lay on my stomach, held my ankle, lifted gently and moved my leg a little to a position that he liked. “Now, don’t get mad at me—I’m going to tug on your leg.”
“Okay. Go ahead.”
Then he tugged, and dragged me three inches down the table, which made me burst out laughing.
“Well,” he said, “giggling is better than getting mad!”
We did exercises and talked about what was going on and pointed at hollow of throat/belly button and I left without any pain…and that lasted for two and a half days.
Then I went to balance class and did back lunges. Very modestly, but I did. And there went the adductor—just like that.
But yay! My first follow-up visit with Jorge was that very afternoon. “I think I’m back out of alignment,” I said to him. “It worked—it just didn’t stay worked.”
He did his alchemy and agreed with me. “Okay. Here’s what we’re going to do this time.”
I was all ready to have him drag me down the table by the right heel—but no. Things got a LOT stranger.
I lay on the left edge of the table and he lowered it so I could put my left heel on the ground. Then—the guy really deserves hazardous duty pay—he put my right knee over his shoulder, and his hand on my left knee.
“I’m going to push into your right leg slowly. You match my pressure—but don’t push me to the floor. Okay?”
He and I were in a position that…well, there was no giggling allowed. This is THERAPY, see?? Stop that, you! Take this seriously!
He leaned into me, as if to push my thigh up against my torso, while I resisted the push. Once we’d established our pushing equilibrium, he said “Lift your left leg. Lift it. Push.” His hand was on my knee, holding the leg down. Left leg UPPPPP. Right leg DOWWWWWN.
So I was, essentially, trying to scissor this kind, smart, wiry-but small man between my powerful legs, and he was resisting for all he was worth. I stared at the ceiling, trying hard to neither giggle nor catch his eye nor hurt him nor hurt myself.
Then we did it two more times. And I used every inch of muscle power, too. The poor guy.
But then—he did his assessment again. And so pleased with himself was he that the next thing I saw was a hand coming into my view of the ceiling; a high-five from Jorge. “That’s it. That’s got it.”
He said not to mind how hard it was to re-align my hips. The harder it was to get them back, the harder it would be for them to be misaligned again…so now I’m very hopeful.
My adductor is TOTALLY silent. I think it totally worked. I’m being very cautious; no sitting with one knee crossed over the other for a while; no jumping up and down. No damned lunges, BARBARA!!
I hit a pothole once in my car, so hard that it popped the tire. When the service guys fixed it, they advised that I get the car aligned. A hit that hard would knock everything askew. So of course I paid for the alignment. Why wouldn’t I?
So why would I not pay attention to whether or not my hips were perfectly aligned? I’ve actually given birth, and once a dog wiped me out on the stairs so hard that my tailbone hurt for a solid year. It would be surprising if my hips were NOT out of alignment.
But not anymore! Thanks, Barbara! Thanks, Gwynne! And boy howdy—thanks, Jorge!
By the way: When I do the hollow-of-the-throat/belly button test now? STRAIGHT AS A PLUMB LINE. Simply incredible.