Among the things I'm working on with my therapists is becoming more aware of the subtler aspects of what they call "body mechanics." Usually a day or two after one of these sessions I start to notice how a particular movement will influence some aspect of my walking. Today, while working out at the therapy center's gym, I experienced this yet again.
The idea that my therapist, Lori, had planted in my mind was that by engaging my shoulders in my stride I could distribute the natural movement of my spine to include the area above the fused vertebra instead of involving only the area below that. At the time she introduced this idea, I have to admit, it didn't seem like it would make that much of a difference.
Today, though, I was walking on the treadmill at the gym and as I was approaching my cruising speed (about 1.8 mph) I started getting some very familiar jabs of pain in my back. I thought about how I might be working the muscles of the lower back more than necessary and tried involving my shoulders more. It stopped the pain like throwing a switch.
I stopped using my shoulders and the pain returned instantly. Amazing. There are only two problems with this approach, though. One is: it takes a lot of concentration to get the movement just right. The other is: if I'm not very careful I can start walking like Derek Zoolander (male model).