And well, now that we mentioned the "S' word, let's take a brief detour and explore the Sciatic Nerve, which begins as a collection of nerves that exit the lumbar spine, coalesces in to one giant nerve ( the largest and longest one we have) around the L5S1 junction ( where your lumbar spine meets your sacrum), slips under the Piriformus muscle to head out to the thigh bone, and runs all the way down the back of your leg to your toes. If there are problems with the discs in the lumbar spine, they can often push on these nerves causing pain to radiate down that same line causing what is known as "Sciatica". This differs from Piriformus syndrome, as the problems causing the pain are originating in the spine as opposed to muscle, although the suffering is equal.
Another common " pain in the ass" is a little higher up, at the bony dimple that exists on either side of your sacrum ( sometimes framed by poorly chosen tribal tattoos, or " Ass Antlers" as they like to call them in Italian) . Stick your fingers in those dimples and move a leg in and out. Feel that? That's your hip bone and your sacrum interacting at what is called the Sacro Iliac Joint ( or SI joint for short). We are going to explore this a little further so indulge me here for a moment. Stand up, put your thumbs on your hipbones and your fingers on the bony dimples in back. Now pivot on your heels to externally rotate your feet. Do you feel how the hipbones move slightly out and the sacrum moves forward, embraced by the meaty muscles on top? So this is all a good thing until someone's thighs don't pivot all the way back to parallel. If the legs get stuck in an externally rotated pattern, the hip bones get jammed back up against the sacrum, and it causes pain where those two bones meet. If you think this may be you, try grabbing your hip bones all the way around the back and sides and pushing them together towards the front. If that eases your discomfort, then maybe you might want to have someone check on your alignment.
So to review, we have one "tent" problem that has to do with an unstable frame, where the poles and fabric got a little twisted around, and it's putting pressure on the A-line at the top ( SI joint issues). Then we have another problem that has to do with the fabric, where the Weathervane mounted on the top of our tent was leaning too far to one side or a pole was hinting at "ceding from the union" and the fabric began to strain to pull it back to center ( Piriformus Syndrome). The third problem has to do with the tin can telephone that your daughter rigged up to call her friends, carefully strung between the zipper and the velcro flap that closes the window. For whatever reason, the zipper got all caught up, there isn't the room for the string to translate vibration, and she's throwing a tantrum. ( Sciatica)
Ultimately, any restorative approach to these issues will address balance as a large part of creating the physical solution, be it manual, physical, or emotional ( a lot of back pain issues come and go with emotions... it's a thing). And honestly, I'd rather keep on telling you about this tent.
For this is no ordinary tent.
For one, it has two beautiful Arial silks that are suspended to the two trees that hover over your campground. These silks attach to the Weathervane before slipping INSIDE your tent for added stability, falling just in front of the back wall ( the Iliacus muscle makes up the inside back wall of your tent, spacing out your hip bones) and then attaching to the side poles, and some of the rebar as well. ( That'd be the 7's of your femurs). Yes, I'm talking about the magnificent Psoas, the muscle of your soul, the source of the hidden codes that control the Universe, or just a kickass muscle that articulates your spine, is totally linked in with your breathing, and brings your knee to your chest towards the midline. The Psoas works best when it's relaxed, breathing with the trees, tied in with gravity, weaving through the tent before grounding it, but any imbalance in the tent's structure can throw it off, and when that fabric is knotted up, it makes camping kinda difficult.
As far as the floor of the tent, that's important too. For the sake of argument, we're going to make the pelvic floor a 4 sided hammock that is suspended off the upper poles, and assume that the bottom fabric is made up of the muscles of our inner thighs. If the floor is ripped, that compromises the poles that hold up the walls, and everything else becomes unstable. The inner thighs also play a huge role in maintaining a parallel position of the thigh bones, which we now know are key players in addressing SI joint pain. But let's remodel a little bit to take the analogy even further. Lift your tent up by a story, drive the stakes in to the ground as though they could meet on each side at the rebar, like an upside down pyramid on each side, and stretch the fabric all the way down to the rebar. Now we have your full fledged thighs ( front, sides and back), with the fabric of all four corners at every stake playing a role in stabilizing the floating tent above, and the Psoas silks tied in to this line just beneath the hammock. If the fabric were to rip no matter where, it would force extra work on to other, more connected tissues, and change the shape of our tent in some way. If the inner thighs or the Glutes are weak, that also makes it difficult for the thigh bones to be held up in to the pelvis, and they will begin to slip and lean outwards, putting pressure on the IT band ( why rolling it doesn't help, but attention to alignment does). If the Hamstrings don't work, ( the back fabric) the tent slips forward and the Weathervane has very little to balance it, or in other words, your Hamstrings support your back and without them, collapse is eminent. Further up, the same thing is true for the Three Gluteal Amigos, which make up the outside back and side walls of your tent, keeping the front entrance from caving in. The next time you walk up a flight of stairs, take a moment to place your hands on your upper thighs, front and back, and feel the fabric as it walks your poles from site to site.
And so, this week I created a 10 minute experience in balancing the pelvis. Beginning with setting up the structure a little bit, then adding some "weather" in to the picture.
Please be advised that this workout is designed for healthy bodies, and is not suitable for people suffering from acute issues. Please be mindful of your body while you practice, and if you experience pain, stop immediately. Always consult a physician before embarking on any exercise program.