I’ve been battling a 10-20% forward lean with my vertigo. I’m standing much straighter these days, and it’s all because of my hip flexors. I’ve been straightening them.
Your hip flexors are small muscles on the front of your hips. If you sit too much, they contract, and you don’t stand up straight. If you, like me, have a strong forward lean, you contract them when you stand, which is also no good. So, Erik and I have been working on strengthening my hip flexors and my gluteus muscles. (Hey, if I’m going to have a tush, it better be a strong tush.)
How do you know if you have a forward lean? Stand up straight, sideways to a mirror. Now, turn your head, so you still think you are straight, and only your head is turned. Are your shoulders hunched in? Are you leaning forward? Is your tush stuck out to the back? Adjust yourself so you are aligned straight. If you are like me, you might have to pull in your tush (clench it), and roll your hips just a little forward. If you ever took dance, think pelvic tilt. My oosh is a little less than a pelvic tilt, but it’s the right idea. For me, that little movement allows my shoulders to move back to where they belong, instead of pushing my center of gravity forward, causing my lean (and eventual fall). My shoulders going backwards is a side effect of my oosh, not where I start. You might be able to just move your shoulders back and be done with it.
Well, a few weeks ago, I was doing one of the many exercises that help my hip flexors: the bar lift. I pick up a bar with a flat back and straight knees, and raise it. When I have a flat back, I straighten my hip flexors. Erik must have said a few thousand times, “Ok, Johanna, now, straighten your back.” I did not understand, until I looked sideways in the mirror and slowly pushed my hips forward. “Do you mean this?” “Yes!” “Oh, that’s an oosh,” I said. “I don’t care what you call it, as long as you do it,” Erik replied.
I have graduated from the 13-pound bar to the Olympic bar, which is what the serious weight lifters put weights on. I don’t just say “oosh,” I also add the “ah” when I’m tired at the end of the third set. And, when I do my Friar Tucks/Little Johns (grab the 13-pound bar, start in a semi-squat, straighten up and simultaneously push the bar to the side and pivot on one leg), I say “oosh” to remind me to straighten and then the “ah” comes out by itself.
For some reason, none of Erik’s other clients call this exercise Friar Tuck, Little John, or Robin Hood. I must be the only one with the strange sense of humor. I would believe that. (When I read the book, The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood, I thought I was Little John, because he was so tall. No, I did not identify with Maid Marian. Who did you identify with?)
I can’t walk with an oosh, but I can stand with one. If necessary, I can clench my tush and oosh to maintain my balance, which is great. I realized today that I can lead with my belly to keep my oosh while walking. I practiced in the gym when I was keeping up with Erik.
I have several great side effects of better balance: my ankles are not trying to sprain themselves maintaining my balance, I’m faster walking, and I’m more confident walking. I still don’t want to take a walk outside, but I’m not afraid of it anymore. I’m merely cautious.
I’ll keep ooshing.