Happy holidays, for and from me. My back and hip pain are just about gone; I’ve been doing the physical therapy exercises that Claes Passalacqua gave me just about every day. Week one, I’d learned his Core series, week two he increased the core work, added some spine and shoulder stretches and introduced some gluteus medius work. I had to suck it up and buy a foam roller (the thing takes up half the room), but I have not woken up with a frozen back in weeks. So. Happy.
Exercising while laying on the foam roller is interesting, it forces you to balance using deep core muscles. It can also be used to massage (roll out) the IT band and the quads, so it’s a good investment.
Claes says that a lot of people have week gluteus medius muscles — the quads and the hamstrings are often overdeveloped, while the hip ab/adductors and rotators are often weak. Especially if you do running or cycling or other exercises in a repeated linear plane. And if the muscles attached to your pelvis are imbalanced, they’re going to tip or twist your hips — hello back pain. We often think of “the Core” as just our abs, but it actually includes your inner thighs, outer thighs, and butt. The medius helps your legs move away from each other, back, or rotate outward. Mine was so weak that I was yelling OH MY GOD by the middle of the exercises. (I guess they’re used to that at Crunch?)
And check this out: just a few days after my session, the Times posted an article on “Dead Butt Syndrome.”
“A new thought in running medicine is that almost all lower extremity injuries, whether they involve your calf, your plantar fascia or your iliotibial band, are linked to the gluteus medius…”
So, for posterity (and healthy posteriors), here’s Claes’ Gluteal series. It helps hip and lower back pain, and is great for runners and other linear athletes. Do it every morning, it only takes ten minutes. Combine it with Jill Miller’s Lower Body Series (deep tissue massage) once a week and you will have the happiest hips around.
1. Pilates stance — lying on one side, legs straight, hips slightly bent for balance, bottom hand supporting the head, top hand on the floor in front, keep hips perpendicular to floor, feet slightly turned out (unless it makes your hip click like mine)
- 10 leg lifts, foot flexed — just up 12″ or so
- 10 leg lifts, foot pointed
- 10 heel touches — foot flexed, tap top heel in front and behind bottom foot
- 10 infinities — make figure 8 with top foot
- 10 circles forward — imagine you’re drawing on the far wall with the toe
- 10 circles backward
2. Fetal position — lying on one side, bend the knees to 90º, support head with bottom hand and balance with other
- 10 book covers — lift top knee about 12″
- 10 seesaws — rotating hip/femur, tap top knee down (heel up), then top heel down (knee up)
- 10 circles forward — small, imagine you’re drawing with a pencil
- 10 circles backward
So! Miracles do happen. Hips and back are healing! Just have to tackle (I mean nurture) the shoulders and wrist and I’ll be swinging again.
Look for Claes at Crunch and beyond…