Pilates and My Never-Ending Tailbone Injury

Have I mentioned lately that I injured my tailbone when I was fourteen?  I did.  That was nearly twenty three years ago.  And still, I remember.  Every day.  I have been cultivating a sense of my tail, sacrum, and pelvic bones since I was in my early twenties.  And yet I continue to make discoveries.  I’ve already explained the name of this blog, but it bears repeating because it really is the driving passion behind my life’s work.

As I’ve uncovered yet another layer of my tailbone story I am thinking about why body sleuthing has been so important to me.  If you look at me you will not have the idea that I am suffering from an injury.  I’ve got fairly good posture, I look like I’m in fairly good physical condition, etc.  But I am almost constantly experiencing some amount of pain.  My work in Pilates did not come easily.  When I was an apprentice I was usually a complete wreck by the time I arrived for training (leaving home and business, travel – all those stresses had their impact on my body).  Which is to say that some people do know that I am a “delicate flower”.  But even those people don’t really know the root of the condition.  It is my tail, my literal, physical, emotional, root.  I have enlisted the help of some of the most esteemed teachers on the planet.  And none of them addressed my tail.  I’m not criticizing when I say this, rather I’m making a point.  It is a sort of secret place to have an injury.  Which means that the only way it’s ever going to get acknowledged and addressed is by yours truly.  To me this seems like a great way to ensure that I would someday become a body sleuth.

My tail may be in a private place, but as an injury site, it is pretty darn influential.  Knowing this now, remembering how nonchalant the doctors that I saw were about what happened (just in case you didn’t click over the first time, here you go again) and knowing that I am certainly not the only person to bump her bottom, I feel even more compelled to share my process of living with this injury.  A lot of us are living with unnecessary tension in our bodies.  The precise design of the pattern is unique to each of us, but the story arc is fairly consistent:  injury happens, complete recovery nearly never does.  As Joseph Pilates pointed out back in the mid-twentieth century, we have come to accept poor health as normal.  Given that I’m following Uncle Joe’s advice even more than usual these days, I’ve come back to my base and realized that only way I’m ever going to be pain free is to really address the injury at my tailbone.  Until there is nothing more to be done.  With the help of my body worker, holistic biomechanics, and my chiropractor, I have been making excellent progress.

There are a few aspects to my injury that bear mentioning for the sake of saving others the grief that I have experienced and to serve as another way of illustrating how our bodies work.  As I’ve mentioned before, I took a really cool posture workshop a while back and I’ve been ruminating ever since.  It finally occurred to me that the tension around my tail is inhibiting my body from demonstrating the ideal position of the sacrum with respect to my lumbar spine.  I don’t want to get too technical.  But the point is important:  the tension at the base of spine is exerting pressure all the way up my spine.  That in and of itself is important.  Case in point, in our session yesterday my body worker uncovered and helped my body to unwind a definite tension pattern in the dura that surrounds my spinal cord.

Back to being a Pilates instructor, because we’re all about flexible spines.  Naturally my teachers have all been addressing my spine.  But they’ve been looking higher up where there seems to be an over exaggerated curve (my body correcting for the inability to curve in the lower more appropriate place).  In my obedient diligence so have I.  Which has been great.  As a result of our work, I have a fairly functional spine in spite of it being loaded with tension.  The importance of movement is unquestionable.  But all that moving and fussing around also added more tension to an already loaded system.  Now in addition to a wacky tailbone, I also have a disc or two that periodically goes all haywire (crazy, unpleasant muscle spasms that last for days – and I am a careful exerciser).  I believe that if I had completely addressed my tailbone injury long ago, I would have avoided this other problem.  We’ll never know for sure.

My point is, that when injuries happen, it makes the best sense to really address them.  Often times we can have loss of sense around an injury site due to nerve damage and scar tissue.  So it really is beneficial to get help in sensing and sleuthing to be sure that optimal recovery is achieved.  And, of course, sometimes there is a degree of damage that can not be repaired.  But the number of people out there who can truly help a body recover it’s natural ability and functionality is growing all the time.  Yes I’m talking about “alternative” practitioners, the ones who work with the health of the body, not the disease of the body.  If you are experiencing pain, you can find somebody to help you.  You may very well be able to eliminate all, or a good portion, of that pain.  That is good news worth spreading!

A couple weeks back I was sensing my tail in a Holistic Biomechanics class I was instructed to go and find it.  I couldn’t!  This really freaked me out.  Luckily my chiropractor and body worker helped me to locate my wayward tail tucked up under my sacrum (how pitiful).  Since then I’ve been experiencing the aftermath of my tail falling more into place.  My entire body is unwinding (and sometimes seizing up before finally just letting go).  I will continue to do this work.  The process is only just beginning.

Our bodies are layered.  While a person may not have an injury in such a private place as the pelvic floor, there are layers to injuries.  To really address each and every layer, we have to do some sleuthing and we have to be aware of our bodies.  May practitioners from a wide variety of disciplines are trained to tune into different layers.  Some have a touch for bones, some for muscles, some for fascia, etc.  But we are the only ones inside our bodies.  If we use a method such as Holistic Biomechanics to cultivate an awareness of our inner workings, we will enable the most fundamental layer of self-healing and self-correction with which our bodies are equipped.  This is the good stuff, I’m telling you!  It makes every experience you have with your body that much richer and interesting.

Here’s to body sleuthing and demystifying our bodies for living with normal health – as JHP defined it, of course.

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