Taking my pants off for strangers has now become common habit. Almost two months after I didn’t hurt myself but suddenly couldn’t run without falling over in pain, I’ve had to drop my trousers on three separate occasions, in front of three different doctors’ eyes (and a teenie’s, too).
You would think after all this time, I’d be okay with it. I’m at the sauna like every other day as it is so what’s one more hour standing nearly nude in front of total strangers, right? But I’m American. This nudity nonsense is uncomfortable. I’m starting to feel like I should wear a t-shirt that says “Live Nude Girls” at this point, but I never was one who had the body to be a stripper or the mental cajones to shake my barely-covered ass in some schmuck’s face. And now that we’ve determined that it’s my flabby ass that’s contributing to this problem, I’m not really all that excited to be showing it to the world.
Turns out that while giving birth FOUR YEARS AGO, my pelvis went out of alignment. I couldn’t feel it then because Jesus Christ, my hip was the least of my concerns at that very moment, but afterward, I couldn’t feel my left foot. The doctor thinks this is a sign that I pinched a nerve when my pelvis tilted. I went to an osteopath right after the birth, but she just kept telling me that if I did pelvic floor exercises to repair the damage pregnancy had wrought on my lower abs, I’d be just fine. So I did a post-partum stretching course. And Pilates. And Yoga. And I waited until the kid was one before I laced up my trainers again.
But here’s the thing: those pelvic floor exercises were actually doing more harm than good because I was strengthening them but the hip wasn’t in the right spot for them to get stronger correctly. I still couldn’t feel my foot and every so often my back hurt, but, you know, I was carrying an extra couple of kilos on my body and a couple of the babe’s in my arms. Since Yoga and Pilates teachers don’t require *real* intimate knowledge of anatomy even if they are certified, and the ones I went to were too damned flighty to even remember the next pose most times, let alone keep an eye on proper posturing, these classes were not helping my injury. What they were great for was stretching tight muscles. But in spite of, or maybe because of them, over the last four years, my body has learned how to work its way around that injury. The bad posture and tilted pelvis gave me huge amounts of strength in my quads and made my glutes go flabby.
When I started running, it wasn’t a very big deal because I wasn’t going far or fast and the aches weren’t anything I wasn’t already used to. When I started to pick up the pace last year, I dropped Pilates/Yoga and added weight training to my program. I couldn’t sit for long periods without back pain, but I’ve never been one of a proper desk sitter nor do I own a proper chair so I just assumed it was from slouching while sitting cross-legged on the hardwood floor. It wasn’t. The pain was because when I finally started doing glute exercises (thanks to a well-intentioned remark from a trainer who said I really needed to work on my ass if I wanted to run faster), I wasn’t actually using my glutes. With the tilted pelvis, I can’t engage them correctly. I learned how to run using my quads as the main source of strength. Not good. My lower back takes the brunt of my squats on the right side. And my quad actually did tear but only because I’ve overused it.
I now get to go to an osteopath every week to get my pelvis adjusted. This is fun. The first time I saw the osteopath I walked out of there floating on air, like, Top Ten Best Experiences of My Life. I practiced contortionism and dude cracked every joint in my body, including my toes (gross, I know, but wow!) and my back did.not.hurt. for the first time in four years.
To get the best results, of course I had to strip down to my skivvies for the osteo, though. Ooooof course. Who needs yoga pants when I could just get mostly naked? I mean, how do these practitioners in the US handle it when people show up in their sweats?
At first, I was okay with this. The osteo’s obviously gay and he’s German so he’s all super professional and pretends he doesn’t notice that I’m standing there in the very expensive, very fancy underwear I bought in Copenhagen (as part of my things to do last year). It was okay when he gave me a bear hug to align all my vertebrae. And okay when he wrapped my leg around his waist rather awkwardly to pop my hip back into place. Actually, it was more than okay. This dude made so much pain go away, I totally forgot that I was laying there barely covered.
But then once my pelvis was repositioned, we had to work on loosening up my tight hip flexors. It’s as awkward as it sounds. And yet. Heaven! There’s this little tiny muscle connecting your lower back to your upper thigh. It’s what helps support you when you climb stairs or bend over and a lot of runners don’t stretch it very well after running (ahem, me) so it tightens. And tightens. And tightens a whole lot more when you’ve got a flabby ass like mine that can’t support all the running and squatting I’d been doing.
Loosening it means getting a two-finger massage from your belly button to your hip bone. A very intense, prolonged massage. The osteo even told me he was probably going to leave bruises. I was going to joke that I like it rough but thought the better of it, seeing as I was still wearing next to nothing and I was supposed to be all mature about that fact. But Holy Mother of Christ, that massage felt so good I almost asked my osteopath to marry me. Instead, I added it to my list of things to look for in a future partner: must give good psoas rubs.Then I put my clothes back on.
We’ve still got four more rounds to go, though so I’m preparing myself. Going to show up in leggings next time, see if maybe, just maybe I get to keep some semblance of my clothing and dignity on.