Posture has been a popular word throughout much of my life. Cerebral palsy has been part of making good posture difficult to achieve. The disability has altered my body by the toll it takes on the left side. Some muscles are inflicted with too much tension, while others aren’t strong enough. Cerebral palsy seems to desire pulling much of my body toward the center line. Which means working out has been geared toward working muscles away from the center. The further away from my body the limbs travel, the more challenging movements become. Tension throughout muscles tries to fight against arms and legs being fully extended. It also takes a toll on my shoulders, making it difficult to relax them into proper position. Not only can posture be worked on in the gym, but working with a chiropractor also helps. The two work together in aligning the body, then we attempt to add strength, hopefully keeping the body aligned for longer periods of time. It’s a process which has been going on for years, getting better slowly with the passage of time. Our bodies aren’t made perfectly symmetrical, everyone has things to work on. But, like most things, cerebral palsy causes the body to be more asymmetrical.
The main part of my body to be worked on relating to posture are my shoulders. My left shoulder has been most effected by cerebral palsy, as the left side of my body has been more severely impaired by the disability. The left shoulder has been rolled forward, leaving it resting out of place. While the right shoulder, possibly in an attempt to compensate, has been pulled in toward my neck. It leaves the appearance of my left shoulder being longer than my right shoulder. The left shoulder being pulled forward also means the left trapezius becomes pulled upward. So, the muscle between shoulder and neck on my left side has been elevated. The entire situation can give the shoulder area an awkward look. Having the left shoulder pulled forward tends to cause pain as well. My left shoulder being in the awkward position was causing pain that lead me to a chiropractor in the first place. It has gotten out of place to the point I couldn’t swing a golf club without feeling pain in that left shoulder.
Through the years, we have continued working to straighten my shoulders. While growing up, my mom would always try reminding me to keep my shoulders back. She would be walking behind me and reach for my shoulders. Mom would place her thumbs on my shoulder blades and with her fingers, gently pull my shoulders back into place. At the time, it just felt like one of those annoying things a mom does to bother her child. Now, I realize she was attempting to help me concentrate on holding my shoulders in place. But, as a kid the patience wasn’t there to concentrate on keeping my shoulders in place. The other problem was the discomfort felt when my shoulders were pulled back into place. My body seemed to be in enough discomfort as it was, the strength wasn’t there to attempt holding my shoulders from moving forward. One idea becoming clear to me this week, has been the strength required from different muscles to help pull my shoulders back into position. They have to be worked on to continue the improvement of my posture.
When staring to work with the chiropractor, my shoulders were a point of emphasis. My body had gotten to the point of having trouble swinging a golf club. I had a willingness to try anything if it would help my shoulder heal. My mom had been working with a chiropractor to improve her shoulder, which was working, so it was my turn to give it a try. One of the first things we worked on was getting my left shoulder into better position. The process took some time for my shoulder to feel better. It had slowly been getting further out of position for many years by that point. Finally, after seeing the chiropractor once per week for a couple mouths, I was able to begin taking golf swings without contacting the ball. After swinging without contact didn’t draw any pain, I was able to get back to playing. Following the healing of my left shoulder, we found the adjustments were also helping other aspects of CP symptoms. So, we continued our work together, attempting to continue moving my shoulders toward alignment, and improve my posture.
With the continued work, Dana did on my shoulders and body, things kept getting better. Eventually Dana came up with more ideas to help my posture. One of the ideas was an inteliskin shirt, which basically acts as a compression shirt. For me, the best part of the shirt has been how it supports my shoulders. The shirt helps keep my shoulders pulled back and down. It greatly improves my posture when I’m wearing it, but I don’t wear the shirt at all times. The compression shirt can cause a lot of soreness if worn for too long, bringing on fatigue in my muscles. Dana had suggested it be worn while playing golf to help with posture. But, when I attempted to play with the shirt, my swing was effected too much, making it challenging to swing. So, the shirt has only been worn during all of my workouts, which means it’s on for about two or three hours, a few times a week. The shirt helps keep me in good posture while working out. The hope has become that those muscles can be strengthened while being held in a positive place.
Even with the compression shirt on, my shoulders remain uneven. My trainer was pointing out the degree to which my shoulders are out of alignment. He explained some interesting things to me this week. Most everything we are working on in the gym has been aimed at improving posture. The trainer before him left behind notes to help Bernard get started with my routine. Ian, who had worked with me for years, left Bernard a sheet, outlining the muscles that he felt needed to be strengthened. They were all geared at helping my shoulders get into better alignment. Bernard has taken the extra work Ian put in and run with the ideas. However, Bernard has added his own ideas to improve my strength. He has added a focus on my core, which needs strength to help me hold my shoulders in place. Much of the strength required to have good posture seems to begin from our core. We also work the left and right sides of my body independently, which helps reduce one side attempting to compensate for the other. The process had led to more cerebral palsy focused work outs. Our change has been challenging, but learning more about our specific areas of focus has proven helpful. I’m learning new things all the time.
The work will seemingly always continue on my posture. It feels unlikely that my shoulders will ever be well aligned. There has always been discouragement over how out of balance they truly are, but the progress does become visible at times. I’m really thankful for the help both chiropractic adjustments and training has provided. Improving the symptoms of cerebral palsy requires help from different places. Those people that help me with this journey, most important being family, are a true blessing. Battling the disability becomes exhausting at times, support and inspiration become vital. So, the journey to improve posture continues with added information. My adjustments will continue twice a week and the compression shirt will help my work outs. It will continue to be a challenge to hold my shoulders in place, but little by little my posture will improve.