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Here’s Your Sign…

I grew up in Oklahoma and the Blue Collar Comedy Tour was really popular at the time. If you haven’t heard of this, it's a group of comedians that basically does a lot of Redneck jokes. One of the most popular sketches is the “Here’s your sign”, where Jeff Foxworthy and Bill Engvall basically make the punchline as an obvious sign that you’re a redneck or an obviously stupid comment. I always got a kick out of these, and because I grew up in OK I figured that gave me the OK to laugh.

 

Now I often have that same phrase pass through my mind when I’m talking to women, especially those who are complaining about dysfunction or pain. Now, don’t get me wrong - I’m not judging their character or level of intelligence in my case, but rather finding that ah-hah moment where their main complaint connects with a series of other issues that come up. Because, believe it or not, we all have these!

 

For example, I was talking with a woman the other day about her diastasis recti and pelvic floor issues. She mentioned the weakness that the felt and just the inability to get any connection at all. In the process of our conversation, she mentioned that she often stood like a ballerina with her feet turned out because she didn’t have the core strength to stand with them more parallel.

 

Here’s your sign!

 

That offhand comment turned on the lightbulb and I knew instantly why the core issues were happening - or at least part of the problem. Those turned out feet are turning off key core muscles. For me, it's an obvious connection because I've studied movement and injury. But most people don't see that connection. Healing for her is a simple as starting to get her feet in a more parallel stance. Changing that simple alignment of the feet brings this attachment points of this hip and pelvic floor muscles back to a position where they can function better and start supporting her movements. Viola!

 

The fact is that unless we have a specific accident that we know causes an injury, the pain, and dysfunction that keeps us from engaging in the activities we love is often directly linked to habits we’ve developed over the years. Often we look at where the issue is being expressed (pelvic floor issues, knee pain, back pain, shoulders, etc) and only focus on that part of the body. We do a million kegals or knee extensions, instead of looking above and below where we’re having problems to see what might be affecting it. We're missing the obvious sign.

 

I’ll give you two easy focuses that you can apply to almost any pain or weakness/dysfunction that you might be experiencing:

  1. Look at your feet. How are you standing? What kinds of shoes are you wearing (heel height, width of the toe box, flexibility of the sole)? How is their structure these days (flat feet, bunions, hammertoes, plantar fasciitis)? All of these things carry over and affect issues up the chain, and by making simple changes here, we can make big changes elsewhere. So aim for:

    • Flat soles

    • Wide toe boxes

    • Flexible soles

    • Toe spreading exercises and devices

    • Barefoot time at home on a variety of surfaces

    • Calf stretching & foot strengthening

  2. What’s your movement like during the day? I don’t mean the time you log working out or training, but I mean the rest of the day. Are you sitting most of the time? Always in a chair? Are you standing all day? Are you spending the day walking at a treadmill desk? Basically, is your body performing the same static or repetitive loads, instead of moving often and in all directions? When we spend our time moving in only one way (or not moving and only standing or sitting) then our muscles actually adapt to try to accommodate that preference. But, some of the muscles just aren’t designed to perform the functions that they are trying to adapt to, and that can cause pain. Simply moving more during the day - and I don’t mean exercising more, I mean moving your bodies in more ways and on different levels - can be the first step in your recovery.

    Some ideas:

    • Move your workspace around. Sit a little, stand a little. Try a walking meeting (use phone recording software to refer back to).

    • Get on the floor. If work won’t let you have a floor desk, then move to the floor before and after work. Get your butt lower than just a chair seat.

    • Download my free Daily RE-Boot and try to work in a few of these exercises each day. They are a great foundation for offsetting some of our sedentary and repetitive movement behaviors and keep our muscles aligned and functioning as they are designed to.

 

So, what was your sign? Have you seen the connection between what’s keeping you from playing and some other issues you’ve noticed? Can you see the connection? If not, let me know. Let me help put the pieces together for you and develop a plan to get your moving more, moving better, and returning to play!

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