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How My Back Pain Healed In One Carve Of A Ski

Written by Dr. April Graham
RevInMo Practitioner – Colorado

Last March, my husband and I were spring skiing in Utah. It was a white-out powder day at Snowbird and the turns were energy consuming. A familiar pain in my lower back came back with a vengeance, increasing more with each turn. I was going to grin and bear it, because for goodness sakes, it was a powder-day and we were child-free! I pushed through each turn with the same stabbing lower back pain that plagued me in my mountain bike racing days.

This exact same pain actually stopped me from pursuing my dream of racing mountain bikes professionally about 10 years prior. This pain did have a diagnosis – a herniated disc L5-S1. I had previously been given Gabapentin and told I would be a candidate for surgery. For me, neither of these were options.

The next day was supposed to be an easy, blue-bird day cruising the green runs at Deer Valley with my then 4-year old son. Each and every turn hurt just like the day before. I picked up some Ibuprofen from the medical tent which I NEVER do (I am a crunchy naturopathic doctor after all). But, if you have ever been in severe pain – you know you will do just about anything to take the edge off. The little rust colored pills did take the edge off, but only for another run or two until I became sidelined for the day.  

As I sat outside on that beautiful day cheering my son on between runs, I reflected on this nagging pain that had plagued me for so long and how at that rate I was slated to being sidelined more and more, limiting the memories that I wanted to make with my family. I told myself that next year, I would be skiing pain-free, and I knew exactly what I needed to do to get there – a neurologically-based movement system called RevInMo™, as well as, Fascial Manipulation® – The Stecco® Method. Thankfully, I knew both of these methods quite well since I had studied them years prior, but admittedly, I had not been committing myself to my own self-care.

Let me just say here that I never identified with the diagnosis of a herniated disc. Because of my studies of the fascial system, I understood that I likely had densifications of fascia that were creating pain signals, compressing on nerves, and leading to disc compression. The way out of this was going to be RevInMo™ and Fascial Manipulation®, but it was not going to be easy.

I jumped right in with Dr. Eric Hughes and his Weekend Warrior Reboot program and then committed myself to regular classes multiple times per week with Dr. Edythe Heus. With every class, I would learn something more about my body and what movements I needed to do to continue my healing process. I also fell in love with Fascial Manipulation – The Stecco Method again, and traveled to Italy for more training and a couple of treatments. I was noticing slow but steady improvements in my mobility and pain levels each week.

Fast forward exactly one year later, I was skiing at Winter Park, Colorado and I found myself carving turns in a whole new way that actually felt therapeutic rather than painful! Being more attuned to my body, I realized that I hadn’t been using my feet and ankles properly before. With my upgraded proprioception (awareness of how my body moves in space), I began rolling my edges in the lateral plane of movement which required a concerted effort from my brain. I felt an immediate sense of relief as I experienced an elongation of the fascia that connected my feet up to my hip and back.

So how did this happen?

Here is my humble analysis of what I believe happened. It is as though my mind previously had no awareness of the feet underneath me, and I had been compensating with my hips and lower back, creating compression of my spine and stiffening the fascia around my lower back. 

RevInMo helped me to connect my body with my brain again, which was largely responsible for my breakthrough in that moment. Because of the element of risk that I had been training in RevInMo, I gave myself the permission to use my feet and ankles in a way that I hadn’t before while skiing. The nerves in my feet and ankles fired right up just as I had trained them to do on the Bosu, slant board, and pipes. My mind engaged with my body, just as the edge of the ski engaged with the snow. In that moment, my foot pronated beyond its typical comfort zone and the ball of my foot contacted my boot, placing the extrarotation sequence of fascia into a new and extreme position acting against the force of gravity. It is as though my body told my brain that it could now move in this way and was okay, because the pain cycle was broken in that moment. We heal when we push our body beyond its current capability.

Since then, by the grace of God, the low back pain has been completely gone! Certain RevInMo exercises used to create a burning sensation in my back, but since that magical moment skiing, the burning sensation has moved down into my thighs, where it should be. I believe that the year of dedication to healing my body through RevInMo trained me for that healing moment in a variety of ways:

  • Training me to trust my body and take appropriate risks when necessary
  • Training the proprioception of my ankles, knees, and hips
  • Remodeling my fascia, allowing for more space for my nerves to work efficiently
  • Decompressing my spine – many movements in Rev are positioning the body to deliberately decompress the spine
  • Helping me find my abdominals again post cesarean section, allowing me to relax my spine in all planes of movement
  • Diagnosing the movements that re-created the pain and receiving feedback from the instructors about their observations (my spine not lengthening properly, instability in my ankles, etc.)

 

As previously mentioned, I also received two Fascial Manipulation® – The Stecco® Method sessions that were no doubt instrumental in remodeling my fascia and augmenting my progress with RevInMo, helping to free my body to move through the full range of motion.

It was a tremendous amount of work, but it was also incredibly fun along the way, and empowering to achieve a goal that I set out to do. This year, instead of being in pain at the base of the mountain, I am effortlessly carving turns on the breathtaking Rocky Mountains always looking for steeper and more challenging terrain.

This is just the beginning of my journey with RevInMo™. I know that our bodies are susceptible to pain and injury without the right kind of movement. Our bodies are magnificently designed to move in all the fascial planes and we are all familiar with the saying “use it or lose it”. I fully plan to continue moving and challenging my body with Rev because it is the only system I know of that truly respects the design of our bodies.

At 43 years old, it is a true blessing to have access to tools that can help keep my body resilient as I age. I am hopeful they will allow me to keep up with my growing son and create many beautiful memories with my family.

I am deeply grateful for Dr. Edythe Heus and the team at Revolution In Motion for their dedication to this work. I am also thankful for the Stecco family and the work they have done to help us understand and heal the fascia. I love sharing these methods with others who are empowered to take their health into their own hands…and of course, feet. 🙂

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