I was always quite the stubborn child. When I wanted something, a pack of hungry wolves nor a guarantee of being grounded for a month offered any level of determent from achieving my goal. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that, one night not terribly long ago, I almost ripped my own leg off. The good news is: I healed it.
When the Body Offers a Warning, We Must Listen & Heed
It all began on a cold, dreary and icy January evening. I was a college student living alone in my apartment and, because of the fortunately ‘unfortunate’ weather conditions, all classes had been canceled. Rather than do what the majority of my female classmates were likely doing on such an occasion (such as progressing through their assignments, giving themselves pedicures or shamefully indulging in a poorly-scripted Lifetime movie) I decided it was the perfect opportunity to awaken my muscles from their months of hibernation and relaunch my habit of working out.
I was feeling rather inventive on such particular evening, therefore my idea of the resuscitation of my habit of exercising did not mean running on the treadmill at my apartment clubhouse, wiping the dust from my Pilates DVDs, nor did it involve any number of squats. Rather, it meant I felt it was the ideal time to perform ballet movements in my living room.
A graceful, swan-like ballerina in my own mind, I stepped confidently onto my newly gifted mini-trampoline as though it was my stage.
I had performed thousands of such movements in classes prior, however I was feeling particularly daring and innovative that day. Pandora radio blasting as my personal soundtrack, I likely appeared more like a jack russell terrier than a swan. Thirty minutes later, sweat saturating my hair line, I limped into the kitchen, huffing, puffing and swearing, eager to pour myself a glass of wine the size of my head.
Uh oh, I think I pulled something. No big deal, I told myself. This will work itself out overnight.
I had utmost confidence in my own resilience.
I had committed to joining a friend for Zumba class the following day and had been looking forward to it, therefore my stubborn nature would not permit logic to persuade me into canceling. I had participated in countless classes prior, and felt confident I still possessed the stamina to ease back into it with no problem. I was undaunted by the fact that I had not darkened the door of a Zumba studio in almost a year prior, however. Hauling my books up and down the stairs of my university’s pocket-sized campus while racing to and from classes had become my new version of super-powered cardio.
I allowed my body absolutely no time to heal and, in fact, the more discomfort I experienced, the more aggressively I attempted to stretch the area which bothered me. It was as though I was attempting to force the demon from my hip flexor.
I had never suffered any type of injury prior, and was much too prideful to seek guidance. Just like everything in life, the warning signs began somewhat like a nagging whisper (or, in this case, an ache in the hip flexor) but when I refused to listen, quickly escalated to a violent cry. Four days later, I awoke to the absolute inability to bear any weight on my right leg.
Lying on the carpet of my bedroom with a useless leg and a nearly agonizing level of throbbing pain, I stared up at the ceiling in absolute defeat. I had now been as reckless with my body as I had been in romantic relationships. It was the largest, most gluttonous slice of humble pie I had ever been forced to choke on.
It took several years of myofascial release, chiropractic care, acupuncture, foam rolling, postural alignment therapy and structural integration sessions for me to remotely unravel the damage I had done to my body, all as a result of my own stubbornness and outright denial of the the messages it was pleading with me to heed. Because I had been determined to “work around” and ignore my injury instead of allowing it to heal, I had created further problems and imbalance within my body.
The psoas muscle on the right side of my body had become terribly unhappy, therefore the entire right side of my body had become unhappy. And, it was quite tenacious while in the process of attempting to reverse.
We Store Our Traumas Physically
The more one fights to forget, the more the body is determined to make them remember. This is why there should never be a fight against one’s body, but a constant state of care and conversation.
I believe we often store not only our traumatic events and stressful situations physically, but our insecurities as well. Our muscles have memory, as do all of our cells.
I once observed a girl who appeared to be in her early teens as she was leaving a coffee shop with her friends. She was significantly taller than the rest of the group, and it was evident by the way she forcefully curled into herself that she was insecure about it. It was as though she was trying to make herself appear as small as possible. It was discomforting to witness.
I thought about unhealthy ways I had positioned my body when I experienced discomfort at various times of my life. As a preteen girl who began developing into the shape of a women, I recall experiencing a mix of excitement, embarrassment and shame. My pubescent hormones often meant I would experience an initial rush of satisfaction when garnering male attention as a result of my changing body but, was often followed by feelings of guilt for having enjoyed the attention. It was an unhealthy mix of emotions, and it was quite confusing as well. In those moments, I suppose I wanted to make myself smaller, too.
We often forget, however, that we have nothing to be ashamed of. Burying an emotional issue does not make it go away. Clenching your jaw when you’re afraid to speak or tightening your neck when you’re angry does not solve the issue.
If we were more in awe of our bodies, if we chose to celebrate them rather than punish them for being anything other than they are, I believe we would have far fewer physical problems.
Our experiences become a part of us, but if we process them properly, they can empower us rather than create ailments and manifestations of pain which keep us feeling bound and chained. If one does not process trauma or negative emotions, it may manifest in a multitude of possible forms ranging from stiff, tight muscles to mysterious aches and pains and even unhappy organs. I truly believe this.
Your Best Body Begins With Correct Posture & Alignment
Through the process of healing my own injury, I became fascinated with my body’s resilience when actually allowed to heal. I buried myself into dozens of books on subjects ranging from, but not limited to, yoga, the role of the psoas muscle, the role of fascia, postural alignment, epigenetics and somatics. I began to feel empowered by the information I learned and, truly, in awe of my own body.
If your body is misaligned, you are much more prone to poor movement patterns which, in turn, result in a greater risk of injuries. A misaligned body will absolutely limit your fitness level (and wreak havoc on your fascia). For example, have you ever wondered why you are unable to perform a certain exercise without experiencing pain and discomfort, yet a friend, who is on a comparable fitness level, is able to perform the movement with ease? It isn’t necessarily the fault of the movement or activity. If such were the case, no one would be able to engage in the activity at all. Rather, the culprit is oftentimes a body out of alignment, tightly wound and restricted fascia and poor movement patterns.
We must remember that everything is connected, and when one issue of injury or imbalance occurs, it causes a chain reaction, creating further imbalance in other areas as well. While under the care of a postural alignment therapist, I learned how muscular imbalances not only affect the appearance of our bodies and increase the chances of tight, sore muscles, but it even affects our organ function.
Postural alignment is as vital to health as well it is to having an aesthetically attractive body. For example, if your pelvis is out of position, it will affect not only the appearance of your butt and hips, but also your ability to conceive.
Below are a few books, products and resources I recommend considering when attempting to create balance, enhance fitness level and heal from injuries, new or old. The are tips for achieving your best body ever.
As always, I encourage you to do your own research as well.
The 4-Hour Body by Timothy Ferriss
This is one of my favorite reads of all time. This book will render you in awe of your body, and motivate you to reach your untapped physical potential.
Pain Free by Pete Egoscue
This book is an excellent resource on the important of postural alignment, as well as valuable restorative (and transformative) exercises.
The Vital Psoas Muscle by Jo Ann Staugaard-Jones
This incredible book explains the role and importance of the psoas muscle. You may be stunned to learn how much a healthy psoas is vital to your physical well-being, including fertility and the appearance of your hips.
Mandala the Yoga Massage Ball
This squishy little ball is a godsend for releasing sore, tight muscles, “wound up” and “tangled” fascia, as well as stubborn trigger points.
Trigger Point Performance The Grid Revolutionary Foam Roller
I am particular about foam rollers. Many of them have either been ineffective or much too intense and, therefore, counterproductive. This product is incredible for fascial release and the restoration of postural alignment. Do not underestimate its value. This product is a beauty and fitness tool as well as a wellness tool.