CRANKY BODY MEETS THE QUEEN OF MODIFICATION
I define my cranky body as one that is very sensitive, unforgiving and sometimes waits until 12-24 hours after an injury before it gives me feedback—so I feel like I have to read its mind! As I wrote in our book, Dynamic Aging: Simple Exercises for Whole-Body Mobility, on page 101, “being able to walk is my key to independence!” I am grateful that I CAN still walk even though at this time it is not usually pain-free.
For many years, a dear friend and I were avid long-distance walkers – 15-20 miles was not a big deal. Today I am grateful to be able to get in 2-4 miles. In 2012 I injured my back as the result of a fluky move I made twisting while reaching into a closet for a suitcase. This exacerbated my existing scoliosis (an abnormal lateral curvature of the spine – in my case, I have two sideways curves in my spine that twist my lumbar spine and rib cage). The result was severe pain and movement restrictions. I treated with a chiropractor and medically with little relief. So began the journey of working with my cranky body to find workable modifications – doing progressive stretches and gradually working into harder moves. Not easy for the “push-it-to-the-limit” type person that I am.
For example, here I am doing a double calf stretch while brushing my teeth (Katy demos and explains it in this blog post: https://nutritiousmovement.com/knee-bone-connected-to-the-pf-bone/ and you can see it at pages 60-61 of our Dynamic Aging book). Note I am using a lower half foam roller (a rolled up towel would also work), starting with slightly bent knees and gradually working up to the optimum position with straight knees and weight back on my heels. I take my time and really listen to (or mind-read) what is going on with my cranky body.
In my working life I was a graphic artist sitting for long hours for many years. I did a lot of walking at break time and on my days off. I got up at 4:30 a.m. and did a workout training tape or jogged. However, my lifestyle – working out for specific periods of time and then sitting the rest of the time – is an example of what Katy describes as the difference between “exercise” and “movement.” I was exercising regularly, but I was not moving regularly all day long. My body was being shaped by what I did most of the time – sitting.
Soon after I retired in 2005 at age 67 I found Katy. I took her restorative exercise classes daily (walking to class). The logic of the biomechanics was compelling. (See Katy’s blog here for a history of biomechanics https://nutritiousmovement.com/the-history-of-biomechanics/.) In 2007 I took the Restorative Exercise Specialist™ six-month training course she taught. What fascinated me then and still does today is the exercises/correctives affect how I move – all the time.
With my cranky body, it has been necessary to alter some of my restorative exercises/correctives. I have to find modifications for moves that cause pain or are no longer possible in their original design. I now think of myself as “The Queen of Modification.” I have always found problem-solving a fun challenge and now I can use it in my own practice and in helping others.
I worked with Joyce for several years teaching restorative exercise classes at our church and a local senior living residence where the average age of the students was in the 80s and 90s. It is a privilege to be able to create modifications to restorative exercises which allow sedentary people to put some movement back into their lives. There is always a way to modify!
I’ve also had to make other, more annoying modifications in my life mostly in clothing. I can’t wear anything tight in the groin area that might impede circulation in my legs and feet, including underwear, pants, socks or nightwear. That has been a challenge!
Recently my cranky body somehow pinched a nerve in my gluteal (butt) muscle causing severe pain and movement limitation in the upper leg (quadriceps) and knee. I went to our favorite chiropractor, Delia Gorey who, having been a certified Restorative Exercise Specialist™, was able to create this modified quadriceps stretch in the injured right leg avoiding painful bending of the affected knee. Note that my standing knee is over my ankle – not my toes.
Another modification I am really proud of is this one for the hamstrings. Click here for Katy’s original corrective called the Strap Stretch: https://nutritiousmovement.com/a-users-guide-to-hamstrings/.
It is disappointing not to be able to walk long distances right now. I am grateful I am able to keep walking. One of the gifts I found as a result of being limited in my lower body is to focus more on my upper body strength. I am working on my hanging every day. I keep my feet on the floor and pull up with my arms until my heels come up and I am on my toes. I hold it there as long as I can and then repeat as I am able. It is making a big difference in my upper body. [Note: Shelah and Joan are both working on being able to do their first ever chin-up on their 80th birthdays in May 2018. And now Lora has decided to join in. More about this in a later blog.]
[Shelah does the Graphic Support for our blog, she did the Interior Image Treatment for our book, and the graphics for the exercise pdfs included with Katy’s videos.]