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Crooked spine

Over time, I’ve been getting annoyed at how my left shoulder always appears to be really drooped down in photographs due to my scoliosis. It’s also a functional problem too, when wearing a pack I have to snug down my left strap to compensate for the drop, yet my right shoulder tends to bear the brunt of the weight. Over the past few months I’ve been making a conscious effort to pick my shoulder up all the time and keep my back straight when walking to avoid becoming a hump back IT dork.

This got me to studying posture more. Another issue I’ve noticed is that I have a mild sway in my lower back. Whenever doing Krav Maga, the instructors were always telling me to stop leaning forward when throwing punches, then the corrected posture felt very exaggerated and unnatural. Running coaches would also always tell me to straighten up when running on level ground. I’ve always attributed this to having a screwed up back, but turns out this may not necessarily be the case. It could be a muscle imbalance that’s causing the pelvis to tilt forward.

I’m not 100% sold on it because I don’t know how well it fits me. There are four muscle groups that support the pevis: in the front are the abdominal muscles (recus abdominus, obliques), hip flexors; in the back are the trunk extensors (erector spinae) and hip extensors (hamstrings and gluteus maximus. If the hip flexors and trunk extensors are tight plus the abdominal muscles and hamstrings are weak, it will cause a forward tilt.

I’m confused as to what happens to muscles when they’re not used. One camp I’ve read says they weaken and stretch. Another camp says they lose flexibility and tighten up. Cyclists and runners are notorious for having tight hamstrings, maybe not strong, but very tight. Cyclists will often have over developed quadricepts, which work against the hamstrings. Sitting at a desk all day long will cause hip flexors to lose flexibility and get tighter too. The question is, what’s pulling more, the tight hamstrings or tight hip flexors?

The other half are abdominals. I’m packing 10-15 pounds more than I care for, and I don’t have any idea how strong my abdominals are. This is a big contributor to the tilt, I think. I’m determined to drop 15 pounds by Christmas. It’s clear that I need to incorporate a LOT more stretching, and build up my core and hamstring+glue strength. I’ve been doing this anyways, but this underscores how really important it is to do.

My coworkers have finally convinced me to join a gym so I can play squash with them. All the run-stop-run-stop should be of benefit, and maybe I can get with a core workout program or hire a trainer to help me with a few things. The problem with working out alone is that I need a spotter to tell me when I’m not properly doing a exercise or holding the right posture.

Running so far has been going well. I’ve been using the treadmill so I can remember what a pace feels like. Something has changed as now I can run a full three miles at solid pace without resorting to run+walk tactics. Today was a five miler, which I followed with a few miles on the bike.

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