I promised last chapter that I would share exercises you can do with walking poles and how to approach exercise while injured. While that is still on the To Do List, I wanted to share with you how dizzy and queasy I feel, and how I have a headache.
No, not because I have a certain virus (but isn’t that always in the back of our minds every time we sneeze?); but because I am five weeks into my broken foot and it is time for me, with permission from my doctor, to replace my orthopedic boot with a regular shoe. Let me explain.
Five weeks ago, I was walking evenly on two feet. Since my failed attempt at ballet down the stairs, I have contorted my otherwise symmetrical left and right sides to place no weight on one foot, walk with crutches, use a knee scooter (not as fun as it looks), and wear an orthopedic Frankenstein style boot that lifts my left side up at least two inches higher than my right.
While my focus has been on my left foot, my whole body had to go through a series of changes to make sure I could stand upright and move around the house while using these tools. My entire body weight shifted to the right side and was supported by my right foot, and, in turn, my right leg and hip. Since the hips/pelvis serve as a sort of balance platform for the spine, this shift to my right hip also changed the balance of my ribs, shoulders, and head.
Bones are held in place by muscles, tendons, and ligaments, which essentially act like guidewires to hold the body upright. My body was, in a way, a suspension bridge leaning to one side: the guidewires (muscles) on one side of my ‘bridge’ were tightened and stressed holding more weight, while the other side became slack. It is easy to recognize that this could lead to a dangerous outcome for the bridge, but we don’t recognize that this is just as perilous for our bodies.
It doesn’t take a broken foot to create this type of situation. This structural imbalance in the body could be caused by an injury anywhere in the body, or even just lack of exercise to keep the muscles engaged and strong. In fact, the majority of people live with imbalances like this everyday but are so used to them, they have no idea they are out of alignment.
Our muscles are more complex than guidewires on a bridge (obviously). Muscles work to hold bones in place by not just by providing tension or slack, but by also communicating with the brain. The messages from the muscles, as well as ligaments and tendons, update the brain on movement, balance, imbalance, injury- you get the idea. The brain is the ultimate structural engineer that knows exactly how each part of the body is positioned all the time.
The brain then sends us regular reports on these messages: this muscle is tight, the right knee hurts, your back is out. Sadly, the majority of these reports are filed away in the ‘I Will Get To It Later’ drawer while we concern ourselves with all the other pressing issues we have in life: sure, my back hurts, but a Tylenol will quiet that down while I worry about earning a paycheck or getting the kids to school. Sadly, there are consequences to ignoring these messages for so long- when surgery becomes the treatment and not Tylenol.
Putting shoes on this morning revealed to me just how much imbalance I tolerated. I knew my back was tight because I completely leaned to the side, but standing equally again on both feet set off a communication overload in the brain. My muscles had to stretch and contract to straighten my skeleton, and even my inner ear had to get used to my head not tilting to one side. All of this adjusting produced that dizzy, nauseated feeling and even soreness and a headache. Fortunately, it did go away after a few minutes, but I had no idea how tangled I was until I straightened up again.
In fact, I know you can. As a certified Postural Assessment Specialist with the Egoscue Institute, I have seen amazing results in my clients. Sign up for the Healthy Penny’s Wellness newsletter at healthypennyswellness.com to receive your invitation to the free Penny’s Posture Program webinar in November. The webinar will cover how to spot an imbalance in your posture or movement, and provide exercises to help get yourself untangled, move better, and have more energy. Attendees of the webinar will also receive a special discount on the complete coaching program beginning in January 2022.