“I hold so much tension in my back,” I’d hear her say.
“My back is stiff this morning,” she’d comment upon rising.
“My muscles are far tenser than they should be,” frequently escaped her lips as we took evening walks through our local neighborhood.
I didn’t think much about how these comments might be a reflection point for me. I simply took them as she offered them – descriptions of how my partner physically experienced certain moments in her life.
And then one day as I was bending down to get something from a drawer, the light went on inside my mind. “Hmmm, that familiar sensation in my lower back warning me about how I’m moving might be the sort of tension Susan talks about.”
Almost like feeling a “hitch” coming on, I would tense up when my mind perceived that I needed to move more carefully in a certain position. It wasn’t like I didn’t know how to bend over and move correctly either. But when Susan’s words played back within my thoughts I realized that I must have muscle tension as well.
For me, the birth of three children before the age of 30 left me with less lower-back strength and a touch of incontinence when I jumped for a basketball. (TMI – too much information? Trust me, it is much worse to live through this than to read about it)
By age 40 I had experienced a hernia repair, more cautious movement when using my lower-back and no improvement with my bladder as I played sports.
Like most folks, I took the incremental loss of freedom while moving as a process of age. Until, now.
What has changed is that through the dynamics of teaching Restorative Exercise™ classes and practicing Physical Therapy my partner has reversed most of her lower-back pain. The “tension” she talked about has diminished by 75%.
I wanted my body back. I wanted to enjoy jumping and chasing a basketball again without pain or the fear of leaking in my gym trunks.
So I began a quest the day after Thanksgiving 2012. I started a test, if you will, all I did was to add one single stretch to my daily routine – the piriformis stretch. I determined to do this stretch 3 times a day for no less than 60 seconds on each side.
It might help to know that prior to this test; I had spent no less than 20 minutes each morning doing a routine of various exercises from the Restorative Exercise™ classes I had taken. I also work out regularly at Gym Jones, and the past three summers have found me involved in competitive Sprint Triathlons. So getting exercise was not the point of my “test“. Releasing the tension and subsequent caution with my lower-back was my focus.
Here I am on the first day of 2013 writing this article. I’m well beyond my 30 day test and I’m delighted to say that it feels as if I’ve reversed the aging process. My lower back no longer “chides” me with warnings when I bend and move to put on my socks in the morning or retrieve something from a bottom drawer.
In fact, I have been able to shave off a minute in a regular (non competitive) 5K run. I have lifted 15 pounds more than my double-body dead lift at the gym (245 lbs.). I have had zero back pain while shoveling over 500 pounds of the snow that has fallen in our driveway so far. I have no lower-back pain as I climb out of the pool each week.
I FEEL YOUNGER as I move inside my body all day long… most especially I feel more freedom within my hips and lower back!
It’s almost as if I hear my mind saying over and over, “Oh yeah, that’s how it used to feel to move around inside these muscles and bones. It is actually fun shoveling snow!”
I’m also looking forward to an increase in freedom during my summer activities when the winter begins to thaw here in the next couple of months. Yet, most of all let me say this again:
I FEEL YOUNGER!
You can feel younger too. Try the piriformis stretch found above or look into taking a Restorative Exercise™ class. Align Integration and Movement has been key to my success. They offer Skype sessions if you can’t find a class in your immediate area.
There’s a lot to look forward to this coming year. Growing younger can be one of them.