Listening To My Gut
It wasn’t until I hit rock bottom that I was finally able to admit to myself, and to the people in my life, what I believed to be the real source of my problem.
Two years prior to the onset of my hip pain I underwent a breast augmentation surgery. I had been athletic and very lean my entire life, and along with that came small breasts. I was self-conscious about my small breasts, so once I saved up the money, I was excited to go through with the procedure. I never thought about the health implications that might follow. For me it was totally worth it to be able to wear tops that I felt like I looked better in after having the surgery.
Within months of having breast implants put in I could tell something was off about my body, but it took me a while to start to connect the dots. I experienced a chain of events after getting the breast implants like straining my knee while jumping rope, and throwing out my back repeatedly while surfing that led up to the onset of my hip pain.
Up until the point where I had the hip surgery I had a suspicion the implants were the real culprit, but I was too embarrassed to admit to anyone that something I had brought upon myself, and willingly spent thousands of dollars on was the reason why I was in pain. I also didn’t think anyone would believe me.
The biggest realization for me was when I connected with the fact that not long after getting the implants I started hunching over because I wasn’t used to having such large breasts. Quickly this hunched position became my new “normal”.
At first, I didn’t connect my hunched posture with my hip pain until I started doing the exercises from the Egoscue clinic. It seemed like every time I did an exercise that made me less “hunched”, my hip immediately felt better. I was even able to see in the mirror that when my upper back was straighter, my hips were more level. When my hips were more level my hip pain was lessened or even sometimes gone. This is how I started to learn that my posture had something to do with my hip pain.
At first I thought it might be a fluke but after months of trying different exercises and reliably and consistently feeling relief in my hip that resulted from an improvement in the position of my upper back, I just knew that the bad posture of my upper back that resulted from the implants had to be a factor, and not just a small factor, but quite possibly THE THING that was preventing me from getting better.
Not only was my bad posture impacting my hip, but there were several other things about my body that I noticed were off. It became more and more frequent that I would catch myself gasping for breath after realizing I hadn’t been breathing. There was a constant stabbing and burning sensation in the right side of my upper back, kind of like someone was jabbing me with a knife. My lower back seized up frequently with even the smallest movements. This whole slew of problems was totally new to me. It just wasn’t like me to be in pain and injured all the time!
It took me a while to put two and two together, but once I did, I knew I needed to get the implants removed. I wasn’t dealing with just a hip problem, I was dealing with a total body dysfunction problem, and I was clear that the breast implants had to go.
My Road to Recovery
Quickly after coming to the conclusion that my breast implants were wreaking havoc my health, I went through with the surgery to have the implants removed.
After getting the surgery, my recovery was not an overnight process, but I knew I had made the right decision. I felt the impact that not moving after being in a wheelchair and going through two surgeries back to back had on my body. Once I started moving and walking again everything hurt.
My recovery was not a passive one by any means. My hip did not heal just by itself. Even though the implants had been removed, I could feel my body’s tendency to want to go back to that hunched position. I knew I would have to work very hard to get my health and my strength back.
One of the most important parts of the healing process for me was continuing to do the menu of exercises that I was given by the girl at the Egoscue clinic. I learned in this process that literally my entire body was out of alignment, not just from everything I had recently gone through, but from a lifetime spent sitting in school, not moving enough, and not moving properly.
I realized that anywhere I had joint or back pain in my body, that I could actually work it away by doing my menus consistently, and by moving more. As someone who had considered myself active, and an athlete for my entire life, this was like a paradigm shift in the way I thought about my health. This was extremely liberating for me because now I knew exactly what to do to get myself better and back to the sports that I loved. Soon, things like running and pushups that had been hard for me my entire life started to become easier, an even enjoyable.
Doing this menu of exercises became kind of like brushing my teeth for me. I did it first thing every day. If for some reason I skipped it, I just didn’t feel right. If I skipped for two days or more, I quickly started to feel my body declining.
Even to this day I continue to do my menu, not because I am in pain, but because it helps me to feel and look my best on a daily basis. Doing my daily menu has become the foundation for all other forms of sports and training that I love. Today at the age of 36 I am in the best shape I have been in my entire life, and I feel like my body and my health just keep getting better.
I attribute my recovery to 1) trusting by gut and dealing with what I knew to be the root cause of my hip issue and 2) a daily practice of Egoscue exercises that have continued to progress over the months and years to meet my body’s needs.
What All Of This Has To Do With You
You who are reading this probably don’t have breast implants, and chances are, if you are dealing with pain or limitation it’s in a totally different part of your body. Maybe you have a pinched nerve in your neck, or plantar fasciitis, or you have a frozen shoulder. No matter where your pain is located, no matter what diagnosis you were given by the doctor, no matter how many surgeries you have had, and no matter what your history is when it comes to previous injuries, this whole thing about posture still applies to you.
Here’s how we traditionally treat pain and injures – we go to the doctor, we get a diagnosis, we take the medications we’re prescribed, we go to physical therapy, then we go on living our lives with the same pain we started off with and surgery as our last resort.
We’re told that we need to strengthen the surrounding joints, and that we need to strengthen our core and our lower backs. So we do, but we still have pain. What gives?
Here’s why drugs, physical therapy, surgery, and traditional forms of strengthening don’t work in most cases – to put it simply, the site of the pain is hardly ever the source of the pain.
We can take pain killers to dull the pain, but this hardly ever gets the pain from coming back. We can go to the physical therapist, but the exercises are likely going to be just for the affected area, and they may or may not work. We can always opt for surgery, which in most cases the outcome is not guaranteed. And we can always resort to good old strengthening for the joints and core, but if you’ve tried this you are likely still dealing with the same issue and even more convinced that surgery is your only option!
What I’ve learned over the years is that you can do all of these things to try to treat the symptom, but until you do something to impact the position of the body, the pain will linger.
Allow me to explain this a little further. Here’s the thing, you and I have no conscious control over the part of our central nervous system that is constantly telling all of the muscles throughout our body what to do.
Have you ever tried to sit up straight or stand without leaning to one side? How long did it last? If you’re like me, probably a few minutes, and this is on a good day.
The key to the way this stuff works is doing this thing called a menu every day. By giving the body and the brain consistent signals on a daily basis, the body can literally be retrained to function like it did before pain and dysfunction set in. I know, it’s pretty exciting right?
The crazy part of this whole journey is that I became so fascinated with all of this, I literally became obsessed with measuring posture and giving people menus that correlate with their posture to fix their issues. There are over 580 exercises in the Egoscue library, so as you can imagine, the combinations and progressions of menus are almost infinite. For the last eight years I have completely submersed myself in this world or learning the Egoscue exercises and how to best apply them to people of all different walks of life and situations.
All these people were coming to see me for pain issues in different parts of the body, and I started to see patterns in everyone. I realized that we are all misaligned (kind of like the picture I showed you in my last blog post where one hip was higher than the other). I also realized that when a person’s body gets into a better alignment (this is where the brain reprogramming is taking place) that the pain or limitation goes away! It’s not all complicated like the health experts makes it out to be. Fixing posture and resolving pain is actually simple, and fun.
So, there you have it. That’s my story in probably its fullest, most elaborated form that I have ever shared it.
Today, I am thrilled that I have the opportunity to do this kind of work with people from around the globe thanks to the internet. I hope that by sharing my stories and experiences that I am able to inspire people like you to take new and more effective actions that will lead towards a life free from physical constraint and limitation.