Prior to my first ‘full’ appointment with John, I decided to check out some more of his advice and exercises on his website, especially regarding posture at a desk. I realised that I had a tendency to sit very poorly, with a curved spine for hours on end and so already started to make a conscious effort to improve that. I had also started doing some more focused core muscle exercises while at the gym. This small increase in effort over a couple of days resulted in John commenting almost right away that ‘things had improved from last time.’ The muscles in my left leg and lower back were by no means equal in movement with those on the right, but were noticeably less tight.
So John started this session by once again checking the range of movement of my legs, lower back and, a bit more surprisingly, arms. Again, my lower right side performed well, exhibiting good movement and strength, whilst my left side was less flexible and weaker. My arms, however, exhibited largely the same movement as each other, showing that my problems stemmed from my lower back. At this point, through a slightly bizarre mixture of twists, rolls and squeezes, John stretched and ‘cracked’ both my middle and lower back. The improvement in my range of movement was noticeable immediately. I gained roughly 20 degrees of forward rotation in my left leg and a significant increase in strength, I was amazed! After this ‘manipulation’, we focused on exercises and postures that I should adopt to ensure that I strengthened my core and prevented the injuries from reoccurring.
While I always felt like I knew what a good posture entailed, John showed me that I had been slightly mistaken. My ‘good’ posture involved maintaining one single slight curve through my spine, rather than the outwards curve at the top and the inwards curve at the bottom. I was shown that, by raising roughly where the tag on my shorts were, I would achieve this desired ‘S’ bend. Since the appointment I have been trying to adopt this posture whenever possible, but it certainly takes some concentration and getting used to!
John then taught me how to perform a version of a ‘roll back’, a move derived from pilates that, as I understand it, is designed to stretch out your spine and strengthen your core. This involves sitting up, slowly collapsing and rolling back along your spine, before rolling back up to sitting. I was also taught the basis for how to run without bouncing, by maintaining a constant head height – achieved by reimagining how I carried my weight on the pads of my feet.
Alongside these exercises, John provided advice about some further reading, some improvements for my cycling technique and also the kind of desk chair I should consider in the future. It also turns out that John is pro barefoot running and that some of the techniques I was learning may help me achieve this in the future.
I have been instructed to bring my trainers to the next session, so I have high hopes of being able to run again soon!