The week I became an old lady.

Last week, I dressed up for an 80’s Christmas Party,  named myself Tiff and my husband Biff. It was awesome. Maybe even tubular, though I never really understood that word. I was wearing tight black pants, houndstooth high heals, a cream sweater and my mom’s incredible sparkly red elastic belt from 30 years ago. My hair was big and my attitude was sassy, so sassy that I flung my hip to the left to flaunt my hot 80’s look to my husband. I felt like Paula Abdul on a good day.

A few days later, I was in severe pain and it hurt to put my underwear and socks on. I couldn’t turn towards my love in the morning to snuggle into him without physically lifting my left leg with both of my hands. I felt like a pirate with a peg leg. It was crazy.

I went to my acupuncturist to see if he could help. He told me I was too flexible for my own good. He said my body is passively flexible. That actually makes a lot of sense to me because I’ve often set in a yoga class looking around wondering if I was doing it right because I didn’t feel anything, later asking the teacher where I should feel the stretch/pull. Maybe you are reading this thinking, lucky you, you’re so flexible but just wait for my next statement. The acupuncturist then told me that I didn’t have enough muscle tone to support my flexibility. So basically, I’m flabby and flexible like a 6 month old baby that can’t walk or stand. Oh good! And… I really couldn’t walk. It hurt sooo much.

The first acupuncture treatment didn’t do as much as I thought it would. I booked an appointment with a chiropractor. She took 4 x-rays and a thermal scan of my spine and how much weight I put on each foot. She seemed pretty concerned but told me she was too busy to explain and had me come back the next day. So, I left in pain and a little worried. I came back and she showed me my screwed up x-rays. Apparently, your spine should be stick straight, but mine is curved and therefore one leg is 6mm longer than the other, which messes with my hips. Also, your neck should be curved like a banana to easily support your brain, and mine was…stick straight. This was the bigger concern. She said it’s a pretty common result these days because we are all looking down at the computer, paperwork, food or our cell phones. I wanted to delete pinterest, instagram and facebook from my phone in that very moment. I didn’t… but I totally thought about it. Check out this below image. I don’t know anyone that has a computer set up that high. Do you? Look how much sense it makes.

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Okay, so even though this straight neck thing is pretty common, it’s also dangerous and 80% of people don’t have symptoms. Basically, the lack of curve makes your head feel heavier and you being to default to your head falling forward or just bending down. This puts weight on your spine in a funny way and makes it more difficult for you to stand straight without consciously thinking about it. In my case, it causes me to stick my hips forward as well, so I look like I have a baby belly when I don’t. Good job me. See below, that’s me on the right. I guess.

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I’m in phase 1 and would like not to be, because phase 3 is terrifying. See below. She suggested going in 3x a week for 2 weeks and then 2x a week for 3 weeks, then maintaining. It totally felt like a scam to me and like I might lose all my pennies. So I did my research. I know my head is wired to fall forward and my hips pop forward, even without the x-rays. The x-rays don’t lie and this information on having a “straight neck” seems pretty legitimate. Just do a little google research. As far as the chiropractic side of things I’m still not convinced of but I’m glad this has been brought to my attention.

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I went back to my acupuncturist because my pain was still immobilizing.  It was one of those weeks where you feel incredibly grateful for all the years that you didn’t have that pain and think of people with real medical problems that don’t involve 80’s costume parties.

My acupuncturist clipped electricity to the needles, my thigh, butt and hip muscles were pulsating and straight up, trembling. It was fascinating to watch and feel because I wasn’t doing anything but laying there and my body was flipping out.  It looked like I had an extreme case of restless leg syndrome. He’d then pull out the needles and ask me where the pain was. As he predicted, the pain was moving, so he would treat the next series of muscles. When he treated my butt muscles, it made me feel like I was in a bad rap video. This continued on for 45 minutes to an hour until I felt no pain and had full mobility. Literally, I walked out of there with no discomfort. This guy is absolutely mind blowing amazing at what he does. The chiropractor told me that my hips wouldn’t be fixed until my spine was fixed which could be 4-12 weeks. My acupuncturist fixed it in an hour, just in time for Christmas! He also recommended that I avoid yoga until I build more muscle to support my flexibility. The funny thing is, he is a part time yoga instructor. He said I should take Ballet or do the Bar Method. Alright.

Me: “What does this mean for me as I get older? I thought flexibility was a good thing.”

My very matter of fact acupuncturist: “Normally it is, but you’re too flexible. You should strength train daily to avoid having your body fall apart over the years.”

Me: “Oh.”

My boss at work: “What are your hips going to do when you’re pregnant and after labor?!!”

Me: “Oh dear.” 

I told my chiropractor that I wasn’t coming in and then she somehow talked me into it because she said it is best to realign my spine and then build muscles that support that alignment rather than building muscles to support my current alignment. That made sense to me. So I went back. She also said that she goes to a chiropractor herself and that if she could align her spine simply through exercise that she would know exactly how to but you can’t. She is a huge fan of yoga, ballet, swimming, running, biking etc. Exercise absolutely helps but you can’t just tilt your head back 10 mins a day and except that to counter balance the 8 hours you spend at a computer or the 4 hours you spend watching tv, reading or looking at your food or phone. Again, makes sense.

Some Tips: You can use a neck pillow or rolled towel at night to help tilt your head back and begin to reverse the spinal damage. I was also told to let my neck hang off the side of the bed for 10 minutes twice a day. I’ll admit I kind of like doing that. I don’t get headaches and I don’t really feel a lot of pain but I imagine that if you did, this would feel good.

I’ll keep you posted. Please feel free to comment below and share with me your old lady (or man) problems. It was a rough week on my ego.

A

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6 comments

  1. Janelle

    Would you mind sharing the names of your practitioners? I am interested! I have been going to a chiropractor on the north side for my neck as well, but she didn’t take x-rays and that scared me a bit. I do have less pain and I was experiencing some tingling in between my shoulder blades that has resolved, but it would be nice to have someone else that seems competent. Thanks!

  2. Janelle

    Thanks so much! Would you mind keeping me updated on your chiropractor?

  3. Oh dear, now I’m reminded of my bad posture habits. Thank you for this reminder! I remember an aunt of mine, who’s a physical therapist, frequently reminding me to straighten up my posture whenever I’m using the computer. aaaaaaaaaaaaaa

    Mr. Chair and Mr. Table, I can hear you calling me to fix my posture…I guess you guys have a point…

  4. This week, I had become one too. So, I’m extremely thankful for all the great advice. 😀

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