Thanks to my gloriously soothing bulged disc (as if my 3 curved scoliosis spine wasn’t enough fun on its own), I’ve had to seek out alternative treatments to go about my daily business.
One of my earliest attempts at pain free movement was physiotherapy. A sweet Asian lady was recommended to me, and when I met the little creature, I had no idea she was capable of such evil. Her office was sterile and white, save for a brightly colored teddy bear on one of her chairs.
“Aw how sweet, is that your child’s?” I asked innocently.
She covered her mouth and giggled (the first sign that should have set me off) “Tee hee! No this is for you!”
As I lay on my stomach, she brought the eternally gaping teddy to me and told me to hold it if things got too much. I was a little perplexed, but she answered my quizzical face contortion with a small introduction to “dry needling”. Sounded like something that should be done to a quilt but I was in so much agony, I gave her the thumbs up. As she prepared the needles, I recalled never having seen such a thing in physiotherapy scenes in movies. On screen, the ordeal always entailed a trainer helping the victim of circumstance or genes in some movements. There was no penetration involved. Nevertheless, this little teddy bearing lady was indeed highly recommended, and who was I to go against the grain?
I’ll give you the short version: OUCH. Fucking OUCH. Grit your teeth I’m going in dry ouch. Teddy didn’t help much either with his cold unfeeling stare.
After a few sessions of leaving her office feeling like I had been raped by a voodoo doll, I vowed to seek out another method.
I went through the usual suspects: chiropractors, more traditional physiotherapists, realignment specialists, Santa Clause, and even alcohol (I don’t recommend working out drunk, treadmills tend to suddenly swerve), but all only gave me short term relief.
After months of trial and error; I can safely say that the only things that worked for me and that could probably help most people with back issues are: Kinesiotherapist (performing the Dorn method) and Pilates.
Ah, wonderful Pilates. I have to say, if you do suffer and have never given it a try, you might as well set yourself on fire.
Two things about Pilates:
1) I think they are pronouncing it wrong; I think it should be Pie-Lates (as in “oh my god, I’m so lates to that meeting!”)
2) You will be introduced to a very foreign concept called ‘Lateral breathing’.
In a nutshell, lateral breathing is inhaling without heaving your chest up or letting your belly bulge out. The whole idea is to keep your top chest and tummy pulled in tight as you inhale. So where exactly can this intake of air go?
If you’re like me your first guess might have been: ‘my ass?’ Wrong answer. This kind of breathing works by flaring out your lower ribs, and then contracting them to expel all the air out.
As foreign as this is, this kind of breathing not only protects your back but if you practice it throughout the day, it will invariably strengthen your core and make you more mindful of your posture and movements.
Pilates is full of weird jargon. One of my favorites is “navel to spine”, a command that floods most sessions. In the beginning the expression really angered me. My navel was so far away from my spine it needed a GPS to get there. Nevertheless, a few sessions in and I could see the blatant results of committing to this mispronounced sport.
I strongly and wholeheartedly recommend Pilates to everyone, even the people I don’t like very much. If you can get past the new age lingo and breathing like a flattened flying snake, you will reap a world of benefits and mobility, and you can go back to chasing dreams and victims as you see fit.