The trainer, Debbie Teller, who I still exercise with every week, explained the main concepts of a comprehensive form of physical therapy called Postural Restoration and she assessed my biomechanical imbalances with various objective tests established by the Postural Restoration Institute (PRI).
After working together for better part of a year, my pain had decreased noticeably, but not completely. As a result, I decided to fly out to the Hruska Clinic - the headquarters of Postural Restoration - in Lincoln, Nebraska, to see if there was anything that needed to be addressed in order to fully troubleshoot my pain.
After being assessed by two physical therapists certified in Postural Restoration, they explained that my entire system had learned dysfunctional movement patterns and these strong habits needed to be broken with orthotics, a mouthpiece, and glasses. My feet had developed improper mechanics and my body was striving to gain stability with my mouth bite (this is why my left cheek was more filled out than my right cheek) to compensate from a tremendous faulty driving force - my vision. I had a midline shift in my vision, which probably resulted from the concussion I sustained from my bike crash in 2008. The input of information my brain was receiving from my eyes was incorrect, resulting in dysfunctional movement patterns in my everyday life (walking). In other words, my perception of the world around me (what I saw) was not correct! To make matters worse, my brain perceived this to be normal. Because of the midline shift in my vision, I had difficulty accurately perceiving where I was in space in comparison to the world around me. This is why I was often ran into objects and started losing my balance. I would never be pain-free until my vision and motor pattern were corrected. In order to live a pain-free life (not to mention run again), I needed to retrain my brain and develop a new motor pattern in conjunction with visual and sensory training.
After working with an integrative Optometrist and Physical Therapist on staff at the Hruska Clinic, I was given a lens prescription that enabled me to see things the way they truly are! Immediately, my chronic left ankle pain vanished, but I still had to learn where left was in relation to my body.
Over time, my neck, back, and foot pain subsided, and my IBS improved very noticeably. Because my brain eventually learned how to center over my left leg correctly (the same side of the body as the descending colon), my fluctuating constipation and diarrhea decreased from a 10 (severe) down to a 5 (moderate) - a dramatic improvement!
Instead of counting calories and fat grams, I started viewing food through a non-judgmental light. This freed me up to make peace with food and derive more satisfaction from my food choices. I was also able to better detect emerging hunger and fullness with proper appetite cues, so my awareness of what my body needed to eat to stay nourished became heightened. Because my food worry was exterminated, I was also able to accept my natural body composition without being a slave to the scale.
During this time, I also started running again - not because I had to burn calories - but because it was something I truly loved to do. After a 2+ year running hiatus, I was able to start reaping the benefits of investing time and effort into my Postural Restoration program and I eagerly submitted my registration for the Richmond Half Marathon - a race I had previously registered for multiple years in a row but was unable to compete in due to my chronic pain before finding Postural Restoration.
During my last long run 2 weeks before the race, I was in complete awe that I was about to achieve the goal that I had worked so hard for all year! It was during this run that I noticed a new sensation in my right knee, so I decided to see an orthopedic just to be safe. My MRI results came back 5 days before race day, and my jaw dropped to the floor when he told me that I had a stress fracture in my knee. Instead of running the race that had been a dream of mine for the past 4 years, I would be using crutches instead.
My emotions ranged from shocked to feeling crushed and extremely disappointed. My mind was filled with thoughts like, "Why would God allow this to happen to me? I've gone through so much to have another physical setback so soon. Why can't I have a mountain peak before I go through another valley?" The ensuing 12 weeks on crutches seemed to never end, but this transition time ended up providing another tremendous blessing. This predicament would soon open the door to another tool that would provide explanations regarding my nutritional status, helping my clients as well...