Sunday was lovely weather, just right for being outside, so I decided to walk home from Curbar Gap after being dropped off there. This is the kind of distance I used to do regularly (about 12 miles or so) but since my knee issues I haven't really done many walks of over eight miles; my thought was that this needs to change!
It is a really pretty route: Curbar and Froggatt Edges, then Longshaw Estate and Burbage South before heading to the Limb Brook valley via Houndkirk Rd and then Ecclesall Woods and head for home with the option of going through Lady Spring, Park Bank and Chancet woods. It has the advantage of a lot more downhill than uphill! Around Houndkirk Road I noticed that I was experiencing hip pain. This is something that began a few years ago and became steadily worse until it was keeping me awake at night. I eventually began a series of Pilates sessions with an excellent teacher and that sorted the problem out within a month; I had lost coordinated movement a few years earlier after an injury and was using a compensation pattern.
So, what to do in the middle of a walk with no Pilates teacher to hand? I noticed that my upper back was braced and absolutely static, no counter rotation happening at all. With that in mind, I visualised my helium balloon supporting me from the crown of my head to gently ease my back into a helpful central longitudinal axis alignment that would also be relaxed and responsive. All well and good but no noticeable change in my back. Next, I paid some attention to how my foot was coming into contact with the ground and how that felt as the movement transferred up my leg and into the pelvis, how my pelvis carried my trunk forward over the foot - just noticed, didn't try to change anything. I continued to encourage my back to soften and the spine to ease upwards whilst checking that my sternum was staying in a neutral position - that I wasn't tensing up and sticking my chest out. Ten minutes or so passed and there it was - the back relaxed and the counter rotation returned, tuning in with the foot strike and the hip movement. My gluts were able to do their job and the feeling of easy propulsion returned. It felt good! I have been practicing this tuning in to walking exercise quite intensively over the last few months and at last it paid off. I will make a video to demonstrate and post it up here soon.