Sunday, October 27, 2013

Back & Hip Tips

 In my late twenties, I was a fashionista to say the least-a!  Prior to my employment with Bergdorf Goodman, I was a "Ready-To-Wear"' expert and a Personal Shopper in training  for the new Louis Vuitton store, which was getting ready  to open a few block North of where I worked on 5th Avenue.  I commuted daily from New Jersey via subway and via 3" heels.  For me, putting on my tennis shoes for the commute was unheard of.  Sub consciously, I didn't want to join the ranks of the commuting fashionably challenged that wore them.  So engrained in my mind were my mothers famous last words, "beauty is pain."  Well she wasn't kidding!  Schlepping out of my apartment building each morning, speed walking lengthy uneven sidewalks, literally on my tippy toes, and racing through the subway, while scaling stairs and escalators, faster than they could move.  But it wasn't without a heavy load that I toted on my left side (I carried everything but the kitchen sink) each morning, that launched a lifetime of lower back pain.  To add insult to injury, low rise jeans were at an all time high, putting more agonizing pressure on my lower back and hips each and every time I sat down (an all time low).  So not only was I becoming slightly rotated (hunched over) at the shoulder joint, and bearing too much weight on my lower left lumbar (lower back muscles) and sacroiliac joint (SI joint/hip), my muscles could only bare so much weight on one side before chronic, agonizing pain would set in.  I walked around for years in this state and then even longer, in the state of Pennsylvania, where I relocated to, once I was married.  Here, my back and hip was only aggravated more  by carrying my children on the offending side, the chronic bending to pick up toys, dirty clothes off the floors and rearranging the furniture in the new house.  Once my boys were 3 years old, long rides to pre school twice a day in my car turned into a mobile torture chamber.  What finally helped was stacking those black mesh back supporters from the dollar store behind me for full lumbar support.  It wasn't until I ran a relay, where I covered 7 1/2 miles at a6:20-7 min pace throughout (in February ocean front and in the rain) that I came home and threw in the towel.  I was done.  Two hips now were not functioning properly and my sacrum (tail bone) included. I was diagnosed with total SI joint and sacral dysfunction. Physical therapy only provided temporary relief when I was there, and I realized it was because they kept me moving, moving in the right direction.  Once I had some temporary relief, I went back to running.  The farther I went, the stronger my hips and supporting muscles got.  Go figure.  I was building the right muscles I guess and ensuring my range of motion was moving in the right direction.  My routine for months was stretching my hips, and leg muscles. A foam roller was a blessing.  I started very slowly though, and built from there, stretching and running a mile at a time over an entire summer, until I reached 5 miles.  With all of the years of trial and error, I finally realized, only I knew how to remedy my problem.  I began a strict regimen of running daily, at a slow and steady pace until I grew stronger, used the mesh back supporters no matter where I went, including the hair and nail salons, and stopped the lengthy car rides by putting my children on the bus. Slouching was out of the question (as it shifted my pelvis forward) and so was my old exercise routine (absolutely no moving weights with my legs or doing anything that put me out of my comfort zone.  Even my tennis game had to change, as I learned to play in an upright position.  Sneakers became a new fashion statement for me and low rise jeans and tight belts around my hips, had to take a back seat for a good 9 months.  Tight hip hugging underwear stayed in the drawer and at night, I didn't wear any! It was imperative I free myself from any pressure on my hips and lower back, even if it meant unbuttoning my pants in the car or movie theatre.  Bending was ruled out at all costs, so the house got a little messy, so what?  And no more moving any furniture or lifting of any kind (kids, laundry baskets, holiday decor boxes).  Now at an all time high, there was no comfortable position in my 15 year old mattress, therefore relocating myself to my sons room and firm mattress, we ended up swapping.  It helped in some ways, but not in others.  Every morning,  I got out of bed nearly crippled and with tears streaming down my face.  I headed to SLEEPY's, "The
Mattress Professionals,"  for some soft and sound advice.  I told them about my old mattress and that I switched to a firm one.  The overweight, sweaty browed salesman, in his ill-tailored pin stripe suit, had asked me one very important question, "In what position do you sleep?"  My reply was, "well I'm a back sleeper, but obviously have tried to no avail every position under the sun."  He advised me that I was, "on an old dilapidated mattress" in my master bedroom, which provide me with no stability, and in my son's room, for a back sleeper, my mattress was "too firm."  He suggest a "memory foam mattress in a moderately firm model."  I was sold, but what a tough adjustment.  I wasn't sleeping for the first time in my life, and it showed in my face, my eyes were sunken and dark,  and my face was drawn.  I stuck to my guns and slept on my back, in effort to level my hips on an even plane.  It took weeks to get used to a new bed, but truth be told, the first morning I awoke from my new bed, I was a new woman.  I cried, only this time, tears of joy.  The final thorn I had to remove from my side was gluten, and the week I went gluten-free cold turkey, my hips shifted to 100%!

Jamie Gottschall
The NYClifestylist


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