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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.