Let’s take a moment to celebrate the victory of Francois Hollande in the French elections. I fully understand that he’ll probably disappoint not only the French, but the vast majority of Europeans, just as Zapatero did, but we’re living through a dark period over here and it was nice, yesterday, to have a ray of light.
Hollande won this race slowly but surely. He’s soft in the middle and patient like me! A true tortoise. (Yeah, I know in a few months he’ll be like all the rest and I feel like an ass for celebrating him, but just let me use him now as a personal hero for the sake of a running metaphor.)
Since Easter this here tortoise has been having some real problems with her shell.Thankfully, Charles forced me to go to the doctor instead of just hobbling around town with my hand cupped over my kidneys like an 80-year-old. I’m not a fan of doctors, as you may have already sensed from my birth-control post, but after two visits, I’m warming up to Dr A.
Now, he’s a low talker so there are important parts of what he says that I may miss completely, but basically I left my second appointment with this new information:
1) There is nothing actually wrong with my hips. My pelvis is slightly crooked and I do have a small sack of liquid at the right hip, but that doesn’t mean I have hip bursitis, it just means there’s some liquid there. Nor do I have an SI alignment problem, but I might if I were to say, have kids. See? Bodies are complex and everything is relative. (I already knew that, before having paid 120 € for an appointment with a private doctor, but it’s nice to have a professional say you’re right.)
2) My spine is crooked, especially at the top. That might be from scoliosis, but that part was explained in a very soft voice and does it really matter why? It’s crooked and that’s that. Dr A said with a straight spine I would be una mujer 10, but with this one I'm una mujer 9. Such corny Spanish humor, but hey, I'll take it.
3) My entire back is very contracturada.(Do we have a way making that word into an adjective in English?) The contractures are causing the lower back and hip pain. This doesn’t necessarily come from running. I blame my lifelong high anxiety and the current economic crisis. Dr A blames my posture and my sexy standing position: one hand on hip, all weight shifted on to one leg.
What to do? (Some of these ideas are common sense, others surprised me.)
1) Massage. I went on Friday evening, just two days after my trip to the doctor, and it was worth every cent. Why didn’t I go before? Well, because I’m Irish Catholic and was taught to think massage is, well, dirty or perverse. I will change though, little by little. Dr Arquer seemed to think that two sessions would be enough to get the tightness out and then I could just do a massage once a month. The massage therapist suggested a month of once-a-week sessions and then maintenance and I’m really going to try to stick with this. It’s expensive, yes, but I feel much better.
2) Back exercises everyday at home on my own. I like that he reinforced the need to be autonomous here. There is no need to rely on a PT when there are so many things we can do on our own. He insisted on the idea that these exercises must be a daily, lifelong practice and so making them on contingent on having a PT or trainer or gym available is just silly and counter-productive because life is long and messy.
3) Stretch the gluteus. Don’t worry too much about strengthening. (Strange, huh?)
4) Pilates. Truth be told, I was a little disappointed when he said, “You should really think about doing some Pilates.” Because I do Pilates every Monday and it’s expensive as all get out! I want to learn to be autonomous with this as well. I’m going to try to do Pilates at home three times a week. Just 15 minutes, but three times a week. Any tips on this would be greatly appreciated. All this body work is so expensive and I want to figure out what I can do on my own and what I need to pay for.
5) Work on the upper body at the gym. No need to go crazy strengthening the legs, but some serious weight work on the chest and arms could help. I’m committing to this. Tuesday and Thursday are about the arms this summer.
6) RUN! Almost daily. Not too far. Not too fast. But don’t stop. And that’s what I did last week. I had a 36-mile week with no run over 8 miles and I feel fantastic. Hip is tender, but doesn’t hurt and my back is feeling much better. Strange advice, but I like it, very much.
So, what do you think of this Tortoise Running for Life plan? Has Pilates saved your back? Do you get massages? Did running become suddenly very expensive?