I’ve had a breakthrough in my pain. The breakthrough came in the form of what my chiropractor told me about posture: shoulders above hips. When my yoga got me to a place where my mornings were completely pain-free, I began searching my computer for a new game to play — having maxed out my WoW character and not feeling terribly motivated to level another character. I found The Elder Scrolls Online and, sitting down to install it and begin studying the game, I replaced my uncomfortable office chair with an exercise ball. I tucked my heals under the front of it so it didn’t roll, and stuck my legs out the side of it so I could play around with having my torso positioned with my shoulders over hips. I found that when I did that, I had a feeling almost like I had a backrest. My spine felt ok with being upright. And I could bounce on the ball to stimulate blood through it when I was static for too long.
At my next chiropractic appointment, I showed that position to my chiropractor, and he exclaimed, “That’s it! Your shoulders are perfectly aligned with your hips in that position! Memorized that position,” he commanded me gleefully. On that appointment, he announced to me that my back has never felt more supple and loosened in the 1 1/2 years I’ve been having my weekly appointments with him. “Keep doing whatever it is you’re doing,” he said.
I installed bars underneath my computer table, as additional places I can place my feet to change positions. Whatever position my feet are in, though, I roll the ball underneath me until I get that feeling where my spine is perfectly balanced upright and the rest of my torso de-clenches from its duty of feeling the need to support my spine.
I sit on this ball at least for an hour or two every day now, gaming, and writing, constantly adjusting. My heels are tucked tightly underneath it to keep it from rolling and to help move my hips forward a bit, or I might straddle my legs around it and roll it until it’s positioned directly under my hips.
I’ve been able to translate good posture from this ball to my posture when I walk and do other things.
I quit my tai chi classes. I tried doing tai chi and chi gung from dvd’s and cd’s that I have and found that they too hurt my knees. So I will stay away from tai chi for the time being. After I move past my back pain, I will return to my tai chi knee pain and try to analyze the cause of it. Maybe I’m getting arthritis, dunno.
I also quit doing physical therapy and I quit the health club. The reason I quit these is because in the past I have been used to hearing my back crackle as I relax into my yoga postures. Especially triangle pose. It’s always been a sort of reassuring, relieving cracking letting me know that my muscles are being stretched with ease. I couldn’t get my back to crack this time. That told me that the weight and strength training has been keeping my back from flexing with ease.
Trainers will tell you that you need to have rock hard abs, and a strong core and strong back in order to support your spine. That may work for some. But I strongly believe now that that has been the cause of my back pain regression issues. Because I never received any instruction about exactly what good posture is. And without good posture, the strength of your muscles will push your spine back and forth and cause it more stress than if you just were able to use good posture to help it find its natural balance.
On my daily walks I no longer engage “punch me” muscles or pull my shoulders back. I imagine sitting in a chair, and bring my torso upright so my back can “sit back”. It’s a razor-accurate position, but when I find it my pain disappears and I can feel a release in my hip muscles as they stop needing to be engaged and concentrate on just moving under the upright spine.
In the past, weight training has helped my back pain. At this point in time I believe that it never actually cured it, it just delayed the inevitability its return. Because it never taught me what true good posture felt like.
These are my latest revelations. With a spine at ease, my spirituality is re-developing, and I find myself thinking, musing, becoming closer with my pup, inhaling the fresh air and drinking in the sunshine these days!