Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Unbalanced and Restorative Justice

I've come to realize that "balance" is an extremely pervasive theme throughout our lives.  For example, we are instructed to eat a well-balanced diet.  We balance our checkbooks.  We strive for work-life balance.  The tires on our cars require balance for maximum fuel efficiency.

I remember decades ago that women were instructed to walk gracefully by balancing a book on top of their heads. (Does anyone still do that, by the way?)  I may or may not have tried the book-balancing walk with varying (read: ghastly) results.  (TIP: Don't try this at home when there are any items that are even remotely breakable and located within a 50-foot radius.)

I think the fear of impending injury is truly among the worst feelings that any athlete can experience.  And based on a recent uptick in hip and knee aches, plus stubbornly lingering neck pain, I've been having more and more doubts that I can make it through an entire marathon training season without injury.

I decided it was time to take action.  Yesterday I went to get an initial consultation at a chiropractic sports physician.  My specific goal was to check out my lingering neck pains, but the office I went to offers fairly comprehensive athlete's treatments beyond chiropractic services.  Therefore, when I mentioned my recent knee- and hip-pain flareups, I also received a high-level physical therapy assessment. 

Since ending active PT treatment last summer, I have been fairly good about doing my PT exercises.  I did want to get a physical therapy refresher, though.  I actually already had an appointment with a primary-care physician this morning to get the referral started.  But, yesterday's consultation also confirmed that more PT would definitely be helpful for me.

Summary assessment from yesterday's appointment: I have quite a few muscle imbalances and could really work on strengthening my hips, glutes, and core.  I have a number of areas of significant muscle tightness, most notably my calves and my piriformis.  My natural posture is no longer ideal, presumably due to years of sitting hunched over a computer at work.  My left leg is longer than my right leg.

I could keep going but you get the idea.

Aside from nagging running-induced aches and pains in the last few years, I consider myself to be a very healthy person.  It is extremely rare for me to ever get sick.  But I have to admit that the assessment results made me wonder how I've really been able to function all this time with only moderate and occasional aches and pains.  Given the magnitude of my imbalances, I would have thought I'd be feeling a lot less "normal" than I do.

Apparently I still need to put a hold on my goal to maintain this pose for 30-60 seconds twice a day.

My weekly fitness routine currently consists of running 3 days a week, doing yoga twice a week, and trying to cross-train (usually on a stationary bike) once a week.  However, more weeks than not I skip the cross-training because I get bored quickly on the bike.  The next obvious cross-training apparatus is the elliptical, but I also get bored on it and I think it's too similar to running. 

The stationary human wheel of gym-based cardio equipment = BORING.

Despite my boredom with stationary bikes, ellipticals, and of course treadmills, my own personal assessment is that I need to focus more on cross-training.  I know that cross-training can help a lot with smoothing out muscle imbalances and strengthening less-frequently used areas.

I'll have to find some kind of cross-training routine that I will enjoy and do consistently.  I was an avid swimmer in my much younger days, so maybe it's time to find a public pool someplace and start swimming again?  I also used to be pretty good about weight-training a few days a week, but that has also fallen by the wayside.  Probably a good idea to pick up the weights again (literally and figuratively).

It's always a balance.
I have my first "real" appointment tomorrow to start working on getting myself realigned and rebalanced.  Mentally I am already feeling better knowing that the wheels are in motion towards improvement.  I am looking forward to pointing all the arrows in the right direction!

Now, if I could just work on my penchants for chocolate, deep dish pizza, and running shoes...


  1. I think you are right that cross training, esp. weight training is the way to get more balance.


    I bet anyone who went in to one of those offices would leave with a list of imbalances like that! I am scared to think what mine might be.

    I hope they do help you figure out your neck!

    LOL, I was talking to a coworker today, and we were like "Does anyone balance a checkbook anymore? With a pen?" Ha ha ha.

    1. You're absolutely right, I am sure that nobody can walk out of an assessment without being told they have things to work on!

      I haven't balanced a checkbook with a pen in years. Heck, I hardly write anything by hand anymore. As a result, my handwriting has completely deteriorated and my hand starts to hurt quickly. We live in progressive times, don't we? =D

  2. That does sound like a lot of imbalances. Hm. I wonder what the doc would say about me. Now I'm curious to find out! Good on you for being proactive and taking care of everything.

    You're right about cross training. It's so good for you. That's something I totally blew off during this training cycle. I just find it all so boring.*

    1. I so hear you about cross-training being boring, it's a CONSTANT battle. Reminds me of how as children and even as adults we know we should eat broccoli instead of ice cream because broccoli is so much healthier... but it's just hard to keep ourselves motivated to do it!

      By the way - GOOD LUCK with your marathon this weekend, you are going to rock it!!!!

  3. Sounds all too familiar, Emily. I would love to find the human being that walks into a chiro's office and doesn't have any imbalances :)

    My PT took a backseat over the Spring Holiday - trying to get back into the routine while also work off the extra lbs that somehow appeared after 4 days of eating jellybeans and chocolate eggs. ACK!

    1. Indeed, I am sure nobody can escape the wrath of a chiro's analysis!!! =D

      Maintaining the PT routine can be really, really hard... it's so timeconsuming and after awhile the exercises get so monotonous, yes? Wish there was a way to "cross-train" on PT!

      Jellybeans and chocolate eggs... yum!