Manic Monday ~ GET BALANCED!

L1 S5

Those letters and numbers are all too familiar to people with back pain. That code signifies the location of the spine in which there are problems resulting in different forms of pain and limitations. For the last 10 years I held ALL of my babies (even as they were toddlers) on my left hip. I did housework holding them on my hip. I cooked dinner holding them on my hip. I grocery shopped, took long walks, and even attended my other children's events all while holding them on my left hip. T-E-N years....non-stop. It's no wonder it would result into a bulging disc that would make my torso seem distorted as my right hip would sway outward and my left hip looked like I was still carrying a child but without a child. This problem has come to give me much grief. There has been bouts of my back causing such severe pain, I was afraid to move at all resulting in complete bed rest..... Sometimes complete floor rest for hours if an episode of bulging would hit unexpectedly causing me to drop to the floor. It takes many weeks to recover and these episodes went from 3 times a year to 5-6 times per year. It's not a life I can live especially with toddlers and older busy children. I finally took action. My physician referred me to a physical therapist. Now, I am a certified personal trainer and my education in the field is focused on overall cardiovascular and overall muscular health.... but let me tell you a physical therapist is a master at knowing every little muscle and joints you never knew existed. I thought I knew every anatomical term to facilitate healthy muscular balance, but not nearly the detail that a physical therapist is trained and educated in knowing. I'm amazed.

My physical therapist has shown me the incredible imbalance I have in my core. With a series of non-traditional movements and exercises, it was very obvious what side was weak and what side was strong. After identifying the weak areas of my core, a plan was created and all through a succession of movements and exercises. What is more astounding is the fact that the exercises are VERY simple BUT very challenging because I had to be retrained to contract deep core muscles while performing these exercises. Those deep muscles were WEAK, so even trying to contract them took much concentration and focus. Now they are stronger and are firing up with every motion I perform. I've seen my core and spine align to a straight up position that I have not been able to get to in several years. It's quite amazing.

This whole process of balance prompted me to think further about the other areas of our bodies that become imbalanced and resulting into pain and injury. Imbalances can occur in legs with either strong quadriceps and weak hamstrings leading into an array of problems. Same goes with tight upper back muscles and weaker chest muscles. Perhaps it's tight hip flexors. Or what about one range shoulder exercises that a person performs over and over without integrating other planes of motions to strengthen the ENTIRE shoulder with balance. Injury is bound to happen. These are a very few obvious imbalances. The list goes on in even the smallest imbalances resulting in major pain. If you're not sure your current regime is implementing good balance in the total body, then search for a credible resource of information or a professional to help you create a program that will ensure proper balance. It's a great approach to reduce injuries and pain!

Happy Monday!

-~Rachel Zimmerman~

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