Weight Shift: 33-33-33

Learning to shift my weight is another cerebral palsy challenge. Something requiring practice by repetition. Working on the crab movement has been all about shifting my weight. Attempting to maintain my balance using three points of stability. When the three points of balance become my limbs. Things can get even more tricky. In the past, we have worked on three points of balance off the floor. The first-time Bernard introduced the concept was with the Bird-Dog movement. Starting with both knees and hands on the floor. Working from the knees caused a good amount of stability throughout the body. Making exercises like the Bird-Dog a doable challenge. The first area I truly remember struggling with the three-balance point concept was in the push-up position. During years past, before the pandemic changed our lives. Bernard had me working from a held push-up position. Attempting to help me raise my individual limbs off the floor. All while maintaining the balance of my push-up position. Getting my toes to raise off the ground one at a time, was achievable. When it came to moving my hands off the ground. That became a different story entirely. I could get my right hand off the floor momentarily, but struggled tremendously with the left. It was impossible to raise my left hand off the ground. While, continuing to maintain the stability of my push-up position. So, starting to work on the crab movement, brought similar fear.

We worked on lifting my hands off the floor for months. All while attempting to maintain the steady position of a push-up. We brought in sliders, often used to perform a reverse lung. The idea was to start with trying to slide my hand, instead of lift them off the floor. The sliders seemed to help slightly, but we could never achieve the lifting of my hands in the push-up position. Each of these efforts occurred years ago. Before the pandemic interrupted months of our lives. The process of trying to lift my hands off the ground in that balanced position was frustrating. I couldn’t understand the reasons this movement was eluding me to such a degree. My brain could not instruct my left hand to lift off the ground. No matter how much I focused on it. I could never understand why the movement wasn’t dropped. We had been working on it for weeks. The discouragement of failing at it time and time again, seemed clear. I experienced total relief when the experiment was moved away from. The pandemic hit and our workouts were forced into change. Moving into doing our work virtually. We spent the following number of months working on simpler exercises. There have been months spent inside the gym, since the time of the pandemic. Never moving back into the attempts of lifting my hands from the push-up position. Though, the attempts at the crab walk have reintroduced the uncomfortable challenge. 

I have shared about the feelings of isolation related to the crab position. The inability I experienced in my youth with even holding the crab position. It felt like all of my peers had the ability to hold the crab position and even do the crab walk. When asked in gym class, I failed in having the stability to hold my hips off the ground. So, you can imagine my anxiety when crab walking became the goal with Bernard. He showed me an example when introducing the movement. He got himself into the crab position and lifted one hand off the floor and extended it toward the sky. Bernard set that hand back on the floor and lifted the other hand, extending it upwards. From there, he provided an example of the crab walk. Showing the walk as the following step. After achieving the ability to raise each hand off the floor. Maintain the crab position throughout the exercises. Watching him provide these examples caused my mind to race. All I could think about was how impossible the execution of the movements seems. I was wondering if holding the crab position would even be achievable. The frustration of failing to lift my hands from the floor during the push-up position came flooding back. If I couldn’t do it from the push-up position. How in the world would I achieve it from the crab position? The following question in my mind would be, how long would I have to suffer trying and failing? 

The first couple steps of the crab position went well. There was challenge involved with holding my body in the crab posture. Using the four balance points of both feet and both hands. I was able to lift my hips off the floor and hold steady. It was a huge achievement from the struggles experienced during childhood. Holding my hips off the floor signaled the overcoming of the first feelings of isolation. The realization of getting into the crab was huge. Then, I was able to execute the next phase of the example from Bernard. The next step involved picking each of my legs off the floor. Doing so, one leg at a time, holding each in the air for a couple counts. Like the similar action of lifting my toes of the floor from the push-up position. Doing this from the crab position provided more challenge. But, it was picked up with some similar practice. Lifting each of my legs would not be the most challenging aspect. However, it was helping me to begin understanding the three points of balance from the crab position. The use of my two arms behind me and one leg to stabilize my weight. We worked on holding each leg off the ground for a couple weeks. Changing the duration of time my feet were to be held in the air. Along, with varying the height I was to get each leg off the turf. Once, we had engrained this movement, the largest challenge to the crab walk was next. 

In order to execute the crab walk. I would be required to lift each of my hands off the floor. While, maintaining enough balance to keep my hips raised off the ground. Using the three balance points of my one hand and two feet. The movement would be an exercise in understanding how to better shift my weight. As Bernard explained his concept of 33-33-33. I needed to find a way of distributing 33% of my body weight onto each of my three stability points. Something that has been a challenge for the majority of my life. Frustrating my brain with the lack of ability. The shifting of my weight gets scary because of my lack of ability in balancing the shift. My balance points often collapse on me, sending my body falling to the ground. But, much of those collapses could be pointed to the lack of experience in shifting my weight. Bernard spent time showing me, lifting an arm off the floor without shifting your weight, is virtually impossible. So, he began working with me on properly getting my weight evenly distributed to the balance points. Really moving to one side, and shifting forward, getting my weight onto my feet. I could get my body over to my left side, allowing the right hand to come off the floor. The struggle with getting my weight over to the right side continued. I was challenged to get situated enough for pulling my left hand up into the air. 

Achieving the ability to get my left hand off the ground required the weight shift. The focus on getting my weight evenly distributed onto my three points of floor contact. Bernard continued to attempt helping me understand the concept. I needed 33% on my weight to be on each foot and the arm on my right side. It was a challenging movement, foreign for me to understand. In the end, the struggle was most evident in keeping my weight forward onto my feet. I had to move my left foot out to my side further. The other concept required was trying to push my weight forward with my left arm. Instead of making the stability in my body so reliant on that arm. We got to the point of really shifting my weight onto my right side. It felt to me like exaggerating the shift of my weight. Though, because I was unaccustomed to the feeling, it could have been just right. In taking the time to get my weight situated correctly. My feet were moved further apart from each other. I didn’t know the option was there to get into the more comfortable position. Believing there was a certain way in which the crab posture has to be held. Once we got the weight distributed to the best of my ability. The time had come to lift the left hand off the floor. This felt like just another attempt at a movement seemingly impossible. We had been spending time trying to get the exercise executed. I didn’t know if it would ever take flight. 

Finally, I got my left hand to come off the floor, while holding the crab. It wasn’t just for a brief second either. I held the position for a good three count before attempting to place my hand back. The replacement of the left hand onto the floor posed another challenge. Trying to reach a good angle with my wrist was difficult to achieve. Due to the natural instinct of my hand to roll inward toward the forearm. Getting the left wrist returning to the ground with good contact would be the next focus in the crab walk. For the moment, we had crossed another hurdle in the progression of toward the walk. I still didn’t pick up on lifting the left hand perfectly. Even after executing it for the first time, the work continued. The trouble with truly understanding the weight shift remained. We did more repetitions on getting my weight balanced on my right side. Leaving my left elbow red with the marks of falling to the turf with unsteady attempts. The process will take more time to really get a handle on executing. But, the thrill of doing it for the first couple times was exhilarating. Proving once again how much persistence can pay dividends. The emotion was unmatched when my left hand came off the ground while remaining stable. Showing me that I could take another step toward overcoming something eluding me as a child. Not having the ability to execute the crab left me isolated from my friends. Now, the bridge of pain has been crossed. It hasn’t been the first time my workout sessions have brought me past the emotions of isolation. The improvement takes work and patience with myself. It all seems worth it to experience these small moments of relief.


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