My posture is spoiling my livelihood.

Sigh. My posture sucks. Fifty-some years of walking around with my head down, shoulders curled in, has permanently altered my body. At times I want to fix it.

Sixteen years ago, shopping at a pharmacy with Susan and Sophie, my life changed. Sophie, under two, walked up the aisles, grabbing pill bottles off the shelf, shaking them like a rattle. We tried to control her but couldn’t get her to stop. I picked her up to put on my shoulders. It seemed like a good way to calm her down. Just as I ducked my head to squeeze it between her legs, Sophie squirmed. I ducked farther; Sophie squirmed some more. My neck, already compromised by shoulder surgery a few years earlier, popped. It’s never been the same.

In the years I spent trying to regain the ability to turn my head, trying to reduce the numbness in my forearm and triceps, I tried everything I could think of. Stretching, physical therapy, massage, diet. The goofiest thing I tried was visiting a specialist in the Alexander Technique. From alexandertechnique.com:

“The Alexander Technique is a method that works to change (movement) habits in our everyday activities. It is a simple and practical method for improving ease and freedom of movement, balance, support and coordination.”

There are several more equally vague paragraphs explaining the Alexander Technique, but suffice it to say the goal is to reduce strain on your body by improving your posture. When I showed up at the specialist’s house, a five-bedroom rowhouse in a highly sought-after section of DC, she told me “You’ve done a good job keeping your organs close to your spine.” She evaluated my posture, watched me run and walk, bend, squat and hop. She told me I should always envision a helium balloon attached to the crown of my head. And we were done. Fifty bucks.

That meeting did nothing to improve my neck or my posture. My neck has improved slowly over the years. Nothing is numb anymore, but my ability to turn my head is still quite limited. My posture improved with weightlifting and yoga. I stopped weightlifting because of chronic tendinitis in my elbow, and I quit yoga because it’s too hard. So now my posture sucks.

This is on my mind today because the running pack I just bought doesn’t fit. I love running gear. A blogger recently wrote that you only need a pair of shoes and a street to go running. This is nonsense.

  1. You need compression socks. Without compression socks, your calves bind up into a cramp mid run. This always happens at the farthest possible point from home, causing a long limp back. Also, you need at least two pairs of compression socks, because when you want to go running, the pair you wore four days ago is still at the bottom of the laundry pile in the basement.
  2. You need a sweat-wicking shirt—at least two, same laundry problem. When Sophie joined the sixth-grade cross country team, I got excited about maybe joining them for some practices. Sophie told me that the cotton t-shirts with hacked off sleeves I ran in were embarrassing. Now I only run in brightly colored hi-tech shirts that are all horribly stained because I haven’t gotten any new ones since Sophie was in sixth-grade.
  3. You need a ball-cap. I’m a sweater, um, I sweat. Without a cap, sweat drips off of my eyebrows continually and onto my glasses. And I can’t clean my glasses because my t-shirt is made of recycled plastic. It just smears the sweat around.
  4. And you need a running pack. My current pack is old. How old? I’m not sure. Remarkably I didn’t write about it when I got it. I’m thinking I might have gotten it for Christmas in 2015. It gets used hard. At least a run per week. It started a deep rich blue. Now it’s faded to a light, chalky sky blue. Everything is stretched out of shape. It holds two water bottles in the front pockets on the shoulder straps, or a water bottle and a phone which is my current set up since I now use my phone to display maps of the trails I run. It has a cargo area in the back where I keep food, an extra water bottle, toilet paper, duct tape a compass and a whistle. Everything I need to get home safely.

My pack is suddenly too small. Besides running, I’m using it for mountain biking. Along with everything else I carry, I need inner-tubes for Eli and me, a pump and tire irons. I can just barely squeeze this crap in. When the season starts and I’m coaching, I need to add in a first aid kit (apparently the other parents don’t think twenty-feet of duct tape is adequate for all emergencies).

When I buy gear, it needs to be good because I’m going to use it for years. My last pair of shoes only lasted nine months, and I was livid, I stepped awkwardly on a rock and tore a huge hole in the side of the shoe. Last week, I spent hours and hours looking for a new running pack. This is neat. I settled on a backpack made by a small LLC located in Colorado. The pack had forty-three reviews. Forty five-star reviews and three four-star.

I sent them a Facebook message: “I’m planning on buying one of your packs. Would you offer me a ten percent discount for an honest review on my blog?” They wrote back with a “Sure thing” and a discount code. I can’t describe how happy this made me. Earning money as a blogger is a long-term dream for me, A ten percent discount is money in the bank.

I’m not going to review the pack. I’m not even going to offer the name. I don’t want my strangely shaped body to leave any bad impressions about their products. I don’t want to disrupt their sales. The pack is beautiful. It’s lightweight, attractive, has tons of useful pockets and a two-liter hydration bladder. It met all my needs perfectly.

But when I put the pack on, the straps that connects the back cargo area to the front shoulder straps choke up under my armpits. My rounded shoulders and back hike the pack up too high on my back for it to work. So once again, I want (need) to do something about my posture. Susan has suggested I take up yoga again. It’s easy for her to say, she loves yoga. I’d prefer to lift weights, but still, elbow tendinitis. Maybe I can just envision a balloon rising up from my head and everything will be A-OK.

21 thoughts on “My posture is spoiling my livelihood.

  1. Parents who don’t think 20 ft. of duct tape is adequate for emergencies don’t realize all of the things you can do with that duct tape. Been on many multi-day hikes and that item went in first in everybody’s pack. Also much lighter than a first aid kit when you’re counting the weight of your pack. Great read as always. Thanks

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I feel your pain, although in my case, my back is shorter than most. If only they made running packs for children, I’d be set.
    My primary requirement for a new pack: phone access on the front. For the past several years I wore a Nathan pack that actually fit quite well, no bouncing, but didn’t have a pocket on the front that could hold my phone. Every time I wanted to take a photo, I had to take my pack off, shoot photos, then put pack back on. Such a pain.
    So last summer I spent $150 on a new pack. Big gulp; that’s a lot of money. It was chosen based solely on its video showing a guy putting a phone into a perfectly-sized zip-closing pocket on the front strap. It also had several other front pockets, so now I can also reach the dogs’ leashes, toilet paper, and two layers of gloves, all with out taking the pack off. It’s quite adjustable, doesn’t bounce, and even though it doesn’t fit perfectly (no women’s sizes) on my neck/shoulders and is a tad too long on my back, I’m happy. It’s the UltraSpire Bryce XT 15L. (And no, I rarely carry water on my runs, so it doesn’t have bottle holders on the front which may be a deal breaker for you, but it can carry a good-sized bladder in the back and has plenty of carrying capacity for tubes, tire irons, extra clothes, duct tape, whatever.) Give it a look-see. I really like it. You might, too.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’ll check out your pack. $150 is a lot and 15L is bigger than I want. But perhaps they have a smaller size. The pack I’m not keeping is pretty expensive too, that’s why I went for the discount. I’m unconcerned about not having a place for water. My intention is to carry a hydration pack on these runs. I almost never stop to take photos. I stop plenty, just not to take photos.

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  3. I understand your pain. Finding a running backpack that fits can be difficult! After trying on a dozen, I went with something called a ‘hydration vest’. Because it’s made to fit closely to the body, I find it fits better. Maybe have a look at that? Mine is a Ultimate Direction (it holds a bladder, two bottle in the front and everything I need for a 16-mile run in the mountains) but I know Salomon makes some too (my husband loooves his Salomon pack).

    The helium balloon thing made me laugh! It’s sounds a lot like what you hear in yoga classes: ‘imagine the crown lifting toward the sky’. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • I don’t remember if I looked at Ultimate Direction packs, I will. I looked at Salomon and didn’t see anything I liked. I’m running with a Nathan now, and yesterday in a fit of frustration I looked at their website. I actually saw a pack that might work fine. Back to my obsessive assessment mode.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Ha! Your running list is spot on! And aside from old school 80s sweatbands, I have not found a viable solution for the sweat in eyes dilemma. I can’t stand the baseball cap heat!
    I have a Nathan pack and love it, also because I got a great discount on it, when everyone else I know is obsessed with or sponsored by salomon. The ultimate direction ones are also pretty well loved.
    I also ended up buying a different pack, and then another, for biking, and use neither of them because I’ve managed to attach all bits and bobs to the bike itself. Sigh. At least I know they’re there for longer rides if I need them?
    Duct tape also solves everything. I used to have a bunch wound ’round my paddle for kayaking. It fixes everything from fingernails to carbon fibre! Those parents don’t know what they’re talking about..
    Thanks for the morning chuckle 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m really starting to struggle with this decision. Because I can’t go to a store to try one on, I’m sort of moving blind. The one that doesn’t fit is a 12L it could be a hair big. I’m now looking at a Nathan 7L, which might be a little small. My current vest is a Nathan no idea on the size but it only has one cargo pocket so it’s either a hydration bladder or gear. Not both. I wish I could just walk into a store… Of course I need to drive an hour or so to find a store that carries stuff like this. It’s ridiculous that we have some of the best running trails on the east coast and no running stores.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I have the Nathan Intensity 6L, which does all I need it to though I sometimes wish there was a little extra space. The bungee on the outside gives a little extra storage though. Someone needs to open a running store in your area! Good luck on the search!

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      • For about a year, a store in a neighboring city opened in GBurg. There was no business and the GBurg store took down the whole company. Sad. Just not a big enough running community.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I agree with your list. I’m glad Sophie got you out of the cut off sleeve shirts. Lol. I have a Solomon pack that I like. I forget I have it. I went on an unexpected 10 mile hike yesterday. Would have been nice to have! My posture sucks too. I play words with friends a lot these days and so I’m on my phone for hours a day. Feel like I’m going to grow a horn in my neck.

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  6. I saw a little thing that sits on your back and vibrates when you slouch as a reminder to sit up straight. I’m not particularly a fan because I feel like full body awareness is key, but maybe it could help?

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I’m not a runner but definitely have posture problems due to scoliosis diagnosed when I was about thirty. Too little too late. For me it’s been painful at times. Over two years ago I began a daily workout on PBS that has improved my posture slightly and has lessened my pain greatly. It’s on at 5:30 am, but I tape it so I can do it whenever I want. It’s called Classical Stretch. I hate exercise but don’t mind this.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Chronic pain is miserable. I’m glad you found something to help it. Sounds like yoga would work too. But I’m not one to talk about yoga, I can’t motivate myself to do it.

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