Recently my car had a safety recall with the driver’s seatbelt. While I waited for the new part to come in, I was given a loaner car to drive. A few days into driving this car, I noticed it seemed to pull to the right a bit. I also noticed some shaking in the steering wheel. It was a newer luxury car so this was not to be expected. I checked the settings and diagnostics on the car and realized one of the tires was low on air. The car was out of balance. I put air in the tire and all was good … for a few days. The same thing happened again. This time I had the tire checked and sure enough it had a nail in it. Once the nail was removed, the hole patched, and air added all was good! I was back in balance.
Around the same time I began increasing my running mileage. I am training for a 200 mile relay in the Fall. Not only did I make my runs longer, I added in more runs a week. After a particularly strong week of running, my low back began to feel achy. My legs were feeling strong and my runs were going well but my back was not happy. I did what I always do when I am feeling out of sorts, I hopped on the reformer to work out my kinks! It did not take me long to realize my hip flexors and quads were quite tight. Tight anterior (front body) muscles can cause a pulling on the posterior chain (backside). For me, that translated to pulling/straining of my low back. I was out of balance!
Once I realized what was causing my imbalance (tight hip flexors/quads), I knew what I needed to do! I added daily work to lengthen and strengthen my weaker/tight muscles in to my routine. It was an immediate release to my back when I stretched my anterior muscles! I was finding my balance. The stretches and moves I needed to do only took a few minutes a day but were making a world of difference.
Just like the car, something as small as a nail, can cause all sorts of problems in other areas. For me the tight muscles weren’t the ones that were causing me pain or discomfort. It was the the rest of my body that was affected negatively. With my car, the low tire caused the alignment to pull right and the steering wheel to shake. Finding the root of our issues is so important. Often we want to jump to treating the pain or discomfort. For me, that meant stretching my back initially. My back was already over-stretched – so adding more stretch only exacerbated the problem. While our bodies give us symptoms to let us know there is a problem, those symptoms can be a bit of a riddle at times!
If you come to a Pilates class with issues, be as explicit as possible in describing what you are feeling, what makes it worse, what helps and what doesn’t seem to make a difference. Together we can decode your riddle and get you back in balance!