This 70-year old gentleman came into the Institute about a year ago to get some post-rehab alignment work after a very complicated foot, ankle, and knee surgery. We started as we always start, with the feet. I pointed out the position of his feet -- the left foot careening off into the lateral atmosphere and the right somewhere in the Northeasterly quadrant. It went the same way it always does:
Me: You see your feet? Would you drive in a car that had tires that pointed like that?
Him: My feet are like this because of the surgery. They got all stiff like this and that's why I can barely walk.
Me: Doubt it. Surgeons don't move your joints around into opposite hemispheres. They're kind of perfectionists that way.
Him: What are you saying. That my feet were like this before?
Me: Yes, I'd bet money on it. Walking on feet like that would lead to the kind of surgery you needed.
Him: No way, man. The Doc told me I had bone spurs.
Me: Yes, walking on your feet that way would stimulate bone spurs to develop. They don't grow spontaneously.
Him: No way, man. My dad had bone spurs and Doc says they're genetic.
Me: No way, man. Bone spurs aren't genetic. They're a result of overloading a tissue and that is all a bone spur is -- your body moving joints in incorrect planes of motion. And you mimic your parents walking pattern, so I'd bet Dad walked like a disaster too. No offense.
Him: I'm paying you for this?
Me: You bet you are.
Him, one week later: You're never going to guess what I did this weekend. I was looking through my old pictures and in every one, me at 10-years old to pictures of me and my kids, my feet are exactly like they are now!
Me: Yeah, that's what I told you. Now, stop walking like that, stretch your calves, and you are going to feel about 20 years younger in a week. (And P.S. It took about 2 weeks before he ditched his cane!)
So, the moral of the story is, the state of your physical body is the sum total of how you have used it. The moral to the moral is, you don't have to take my word for it. If you've got photos, you can be your own alignment detective. To illustrate my point, let's take a walk in my shoes for a quick second.
Here I am at about Age One. Notice the straight feet found in almost all kids once they get upright. Also notice that while I am currently 34-years old, I was, apparently, born in the 50s. Also note the petticoat. It will make a comeback, I promise.
Already reading at age one, I manage to still have straight feet despite them being bound into what appears like Too-Small shoes and Too-Frilly socks. Hey Mom, don't my ankles look a little puffy?? Parents: Please don't put your kids in shoes. Especially when you have gold shag carpet. Check out my dad rocking the orange bean bag chair. He's still cool like that.
Here we start to notice a preference for the left leg and the turn out of the right. Something I've picked up between Year One and Year Three. I like that hair cut. And so do all three of the musketeers.
Awesome jumper, and yes, my preference for the weight-on-the-left turn out of the right seems to be consistent. Hair is improving.
How many kids do you know, that can smoke and eat a sandwich at the same time? I learned that from my dad. The stance, as the pictures will show, I've picked up from my mom.
Almost non sequitur, but then again I'm all about my left leg. Wanted to add this to demonstrate BEST Christmas present over. No, not the doll with the freaky eyes, but the socks. The REVERSIBLE socks. You can still wear them, but they don't have to match. Also note the 17-layered nightgown ensemble. It was cold where I grew up...in Santa Cruz, Ca. It was a record low of 59 that year. And what's with the shoes, Imelda? You're in your pajamas!
It's baaa-aack. Here's my mom and I at the Junction. Pettycoat Junction. Today is my mom's birthday. HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOM! She thought it would be fun to have matching clothes. And hair. And glasses (which she wisely removed for the photo). Also check out how she stands on her left foot and turns out the right. Where have we seen that before...hmmm? This pic is from the 5-years our family Square Danced. I don't want to talk about it. I did have about 20 bitchin' P-coats though. Maybe this is where I gathered my fondness for unruffled clothing. If it has any frill, I'm out of there. Out of there on my left leg, obviously.
Please, check out the feet and not the outfit. This is a picture I like to call:
Happy Birthday Mom, I Love You Anyways.
So now you've seen just a little of my postural evolution, and I assure you, it's something I have to work on every day. If I don't, years of that habit would lead to osteoarthritis in the knee and hip, increased stress on the instep of my foot, sacal and pelvic floor issues, and neuropathy, for sure.
Spend a little time looking at your pictures beyond the clothes and haircuts. Beyond the memories and nostalgia. Use photos as a tool to reprogram your way of thinking about your own personal (learned!) postural habits and see if you can pick out two or three things you've always done and, just, well, stop it.
Oh, and just in case you want to check your alignment from every angle, make sure you have sneaky relatives following you around with a camera for posteriority. Posterity, I mean.