Apparently I know too much. Or at least that’s what my chiropractor, Dr. Beth Baker, said to me the last time she saw me. I told Beth that I’ve been working with David Albers, using Controlled Articular Rotations (CARs) improve my mobility and demonstrated some of the moves.
She took one look at my Lumbar Cat/Cow and said, your lumbar region is stuck. That led to a lot of soft tissue work to release the area. While she was working, we talked about what might have caused me to be stuck there. The answer we came up with is apparently I know too much.
Here’s How I Got In This Mess
My first job after college was as Fitness Specialist for Special Populations in the Fitness/Wellness section of Chattanooga Parks & Recreation. In case you’re wondering, special populations at the time meant, anyone who wasn’t the typical gym member. So I served as de facto gym teacher for homeschooled children twice a week, oversaw training for police and fire recruits, taught strength and conditioning to elderly people, programmed for physically challenged attendees and supervised instructors who taught exercise classes at the various rec centers around the city during summer camps. In addition to my finding out how many letters I can fit into the job title section of a business card, because of that job, I earned a Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist certification, a Post Rehab Specialist certification, even got to attend the Cooper Institute for Aerobics Research to be certified to work with special populations. This was 1997ish and the anti-bodybuilding, “functional fitness” craze was ramping up. We were all focused on making sure that our gym training was preparing us for “the real world”.
The second factor was while at that job, I’d see regular population, gym attendees wearing belts to do anything that involved weights. I remember watching a guy put on his weight belt and then start doing light lateral raises. Seriously. These people were influenced by bodybuilding magazines which featured pictures of oiled up, muscle heros wearing booty shorts, flannel shirts with ripped up sleeves and combat boots grimacing their way through intense sets of reverse EZ Bar Curls while wearing a weight belt. And that was just the men! (Women in those magazines did everything I just mentioned but wore high heels or tennis shoes with puffy socks. Ah, those were the days!)
Anyway, occasionally, one of our members would come in moving gingerly because he’d hurt himself doing some normal household chore, picking up groceries, starting the lawnmower etc. and I would always leap at the chance to point out that it was because they wore their lifting belts all of the time. Instead, I said, “They needed to learn to brace“.
Well, I determined that I wouldn’t be one of those gym class heroes. Great in the gym and useless everywhere else. I was AN ATHLETE! (Did you hear the music just now?) So I braced and braced again, from then to now, bracing to pick up socks off the floor, bracing to carry a pitcher of sweet tea, bracing in the gym, bracing when I give my daughter a piggyback ride. And now, I’m stuck.
As Beth put it, “In a normal society where we didn’t sit so much, our core would automatically engage and disengage as needed to do things like pick stuff up, then relax.” Instead, I learned to brace in an artificial way and now my lumbar region is stuck that way.
So while the soft tissue work was good, just relearning to move like an athlete is important. For example, how to pick things up like our ancestors would have back in the Dark Ages before 1980. (I mean they didn’t even have Internet back then so how did they live?) A great place to start is with the Weck Method which Tom Meehan interviewed inventor, David Weck about in the Fall 2019 issue of the Home Gym Quarterly. You can read about that for free here and see some other cool stuff in the process.