"Shoulders back, shoulders back!" As a tall girl, I grew up hearing* that command, knowing posture was surely the key to being a success/achieving fame/living a long, happy, vertically superior life. And I actually did have good posture.* I never slumped*, always thrust my chest forward, strutted around in high heels and stood tall and proud.
But what no one told me is that the real key to good posture is not just throwing those shoulders back, but pulling your shoulderblades down* and together. As a result, I eventually grew myself a pair of "wings." Not Victoria's Secret angel wings, but winged scapulae. They* look like this and I never realized how much they actually protruded until this whole neck/back debacle.
The excellent news, though, is that my physical therapist and I have redoubled our efforts to get me better, and our endeavor includes a massive restrengthening program designed at de-winging my back*. I've enrolled* in a beginners Pilates class (Alyssa, exciting, right?), plus a beginners yoga class (even though I was plunging through 90-minute Power yoga classes back in April...it's back to the drawing board with a focus on form.) I do Plank* and assorted other moves Every. Single. Day. I am constantly monitoring myself and if I notice my shoulder blades* a poppin', I pulll 'em down and back. My PT friend Ali suggested I imagine trying to tuck them into my back pockets.
And you know what? It's working!
I have had a string of relatively pain-free days*, and I wholly attribute them to this new back-and-down philosophy. Eventually I will hopefully be able to train my body to maintain that stature without such diligent thought. As of right now, though, I am constantly readjusting them while walking on the treadmill, during mealtime, even tucking them in* and pinning them down when I sleep on my back. It's so unbelievably exciting to have found something that I can do, that is making me feel better, feel healed, feel strong and healthy. Was it frustrating to enroll in beginner's yoga, with people who have never even heard of Downward Dog before? The workout snob in me is screaming "Abso-freaking-lutely" But I swallowed that negativity and embraced the class for what it is - a healing tool. I am a beginner in many ways - my old workouts were far too punishing and focused on burning/torching/releasing. Now they're about getting better. And the irony is, I feel more like an athlete now that I did back when I was grunting through 60-minute Body Pump classes or 45-minute runs. Because athletes take care of their bodies, their instruments, rather than viewing them as something to look good in a pair of jeans.* And besides, my back is going to look EVEN HOTTER in halter tops this summer, newly de-winged, sleek and strong. And pain-free.
* Every time you see an asterick, that means that, during the course of writing this blog, I had to remind myself to pull my wings back and down. Baby steps.