It started with one FB challenge and now people everywhere are planking. The challenge is to hold your body in ‘plank pose’ for 20 seconds on day one, building up to 240 seconds by day 28. ‘Plank’ is a yoga pose (think of a pushup held at the ‘up’ phase) and is an isometric exercise which involves contracting your muscles against stationary resistance. Plank pose is used to strengthen the core muscles, as well as arms, shoulders, hamstrings and glutes. I decided to accept the challenge.
Since most post menopausal women lose upper body strength, I expected that my arms and shoulders would feel the effect first. What I didn’t expect was that planking would, literally, be a pain in the butt! After all, I walk/hike every day and when I did the plank pose, I didn’t particularly notice the challenge in my glutes. I did notice it in my shoulders and abs. But by day three (night three actually), the pain in my glutes woke me from sleep and it was clear that my new planking routine was the cause. So, what to do?
The first thing I did, since I was in bed and still wanted more sleep, was to ensure I had a good side sleeping position, a figure-4 with knees slightly bent, keeping ankles and upper shoulder in line with the hip. Then I placed a pillow between my knees. This helps keep the legs parallel, reducing stress on the low back and prevents the upper leg from pulling the muscles and ligaments in the gluteal and sacral (butt) area.
The second thing I did for my pain in the butt was to eat gelatin the next morning! I just happened to have made some the night before. (Perhaps I knew I would be needing it?) Why gelatin? Gelatin is a source of collagen, a major component of our muscles, ligaments and tendons. After all, this area contains many muscles, including the largest muscle in the body – gluteus maximus – as well as the smaller glutes and the sometimes problematic piriformis muscle. The glute-sacral-coccyx area is also abundant in ligaments and, when I rolled over in bed groaning, I felt each and every muscle and ligament in the region! For more about gelatin and the kind I buy, check my previous blog.
And then there was Bowen to the rescue! (You knew there was going to be a Bowen connection, right?) There are many Bowen procedures for “pain in the butt” including BRM 1, Sacral, Prone Sacral, Gluteal Release, Buttock, Sciatica, Coccyx…just to name a few! In addition to the most appropriate Bowen procedures (for me), I began to do the associated Bowen exercises. Bowen exercises commence the day after a Bowen session and actually complete the Bowen procedure. It only seemed logical that, if I was experiencing pain from muscle strain and over-contracting, I should then spend some time stretching those muscles. Bowen exercises are gentle, with short stints of stretching and contracting the muscles so you perform both aspects of the muscle’s function. Your Bowen practitioner will demonstrate the appropriate exercise for you, depending on which Bowen procedure is used. And, with any aching muscle, an Epsom salt bath is helpful. Just remember to use warm water, not hot, after a Bowen session.
As for me, will I continue with the planking challenge? Hmmmm, ask me tomorrow!