You’re probably wondering what physiotherapy has to do with backpacking, right? Well, really, it doesn’t. And it didn’t for me either. Until I started to plan for this trip.
As I talked about in my post about Staying Fit While Traveling, I lead a very active life, and I always have. Running, basketball, track and field, and most recently pole fitness–I’ve loved it all. However, after many years of activity, my body started to fight back. This post is the first in a series of fitness– and physiotherapy-related posts about how I got to the point I am now, what made me start physiotherapy, my goals for myself, my drills, my results, and, the big one, how to stay on track while traveling. But let’s start at the beginning.
In January 2012 my right hamstring started feeling extremely tight, and painful to straighten fully. I thought I had over-worked it doing pole moves, so I decided to avoid those moves and focus on stretching it. It stayed incredibly tight and painful for about a month, then slowly the pain would go away, and I could straighten my leg, and even stretch a bit. However, the muscle was still quite tight. But I didn’t think too much of it, and figured with enough rest it would fix itself. Oops, one big mistake. I should also mention that it was around this time that I was getting serious about stretching to get my splits, and was having more success on my left split than my right, though I was finding my hip-flexors were very tight and preventing me from getting all the way down.
Fast-forward to June 2013, my hamstring had (I thought) more-or-less healed, and I was stretching it with more eagerness. I was doing a simple hamstring stretch one day, not pushing hard at all, and I heard a crack and felt the same spot tighten up immediately. Needless to say, I was in some pain and extremely frustrated.
I iced it, let it rest for a few days, and continued to pole with all the intensity that I ever had, if not more. When August hit and it still wasn’t doing much better, I figured (with some encouragement from my fellow instructors at Clubmynx) that I should go to a physiotherapist to get it sorted out before leaving for this backpacking trip. So I took the plunge and made an appointment with the therapist that several of the Mynx girls go to (it’s helpful that he knows about pole, the intense training that we do, and the mentality we have), thinking he would give me a few exercises for my hamstring and that would be it. Well, I was dead wrong.
After his initial assessments, he told me that my hamstring wasn’t my biggest problem. It turns out that, due to an injury from the 7th grade, my hips and pelvis are, in short, not loading my weight properly. Essentially my hips and pelvis don’t tilt the way they are supposed to, due to my body struggling to keep itself balanced. And because my body has been struggling to load weight properly on my hips, everything around my pelvis is extremely tight–including my hip-flexors. Another result of this struggle to balance is that my body has been trying to use my hamstring to help balance itself, especially with pole where balance is a huge factor. This is also the reason why I have struggled with back flexibility for so long–I always thought my spine just wouldn’t bend, because whenever I did any kind of back beck my lower back would be in pain. Turns out it’s also linked back to my pelvic region being messed up.
Getting all this news in the span of a few minutes, when I was expecting something much, much less intense, was a bit of a shocker. The biggest hit, however, was when he told me that I would never be able to do a split if I didn’t get everything in my hips sorted out. Considering that had been my goal for the past year and a half, I was pretty crushed by the news. That meant that nearly all of the work I had put in was for almost nothing. However, after letting all this information sink in, that became my motivator to commit to this, even while traveling, and meet my goal of getting into a split.
There ends the first of my physiotherapy posts. Check back for future posts about my drills, progress, and my first experience with dry needling.