Have you ever had an accident or surgery and had to use crutches? Are you using crutches now? If so, then you know that using crutches can create sore shoulders, tight hip muscles, sciatica, and an aching back. Using crutches can cause you to literally forget how to walk properly, twist and turn your torso, or move your hips well. This is an indication that you are experiencing Sensory Motor Amnesia (SMA). When you become dependent upon crutches you begin to compensate and adapt in a way that helps you get through the injury, but gets in the way of a smooth gait once you're back on your feet again. You lose the most basic sense of balance and coordination due to your very real need to rely on the crutches to help you through the day. However, while you're on crutches there is a lot you can do BEFORE you get off of them. Here are two photos of "Lynne," a client I worked with who is still on crutches due to a broken left ankle:
BEFORE: Notice her hip on the left side; it's higher than the right hip. Notice the hem of her shirt, which angles up to the left. This occurs due to lifting the left hip to crutch around and protect the left ankle. It's no wonder that Lynne complained of back pain; she had to shift all her weight onto her right side to compensate for her injured left side.
We worked to relax and release the muscles of the Trauma Reflex - the muscles that help you side bend and twist - which reflexively tighten to avoid further injury. Then we practiced several movement patterns to help Lynne remember how to move her hips easily.
AFTER ONE SOMATICS SESSION: Notice the difference in Lynne's left hip. After pandiculating the muscles of her waist and working with her hips and legs, she was able to bring herself back into balance. Her weight is evenly distributed on both feet. She reported her back pain gone and a renewed ease of movement in her hips. She said that being balanced "felt strange, because I guess being out of balance became normal for me." How right she was! Her brain had learned instantly how to compensate, so engaging her brain with sensory motor learning, was her path to regaining coordination and balance.
In my next blog post I will show you some of the movements I gave Lynne to practice in order to remind her muscles to relax while she continues to heal. When she gets off her crutches her rehab will be easier and more effective.
To learn the movements that will help you regain a smooth gait, relaxed muscles and optimum muscle function, check out my instructional DVD, Pain Relief Through Movement. The methods and movements you will learn in this DVD will teach you to balance your muscles, regain body awareness and relieve pain - all on your own!