1967 was Canada’s centennial year. Montreal’s Expo ’67 was on everyone’s mind. Well, almost everyone. I was pre-occupied with physical fitness and practicing my sit-ups.
I hated every last minute of it.
For the centennial festivities, the federal government introduced a fitness program called “Participaction”. Students of all ages engaged in six athletic events:
1. Endurance run
2. 50-metre run
3. Standing long jump
4. Shuttle run
5. Flexed arm hang or push-ups
6. Speed sit-ups or curl-ups
Everyone was awarded a badge. Wasn’t that thoughtful?
5. Participation – a red consolation badge. Nice try, you gave it your best shot, but hey, we can’t all win and, oh, by the way? LOSER! (I suppose there is no need to tell you that I had a complete set of 6 red participation badges.)
I tried. I really did. We were allowed practice time in gym class and I worked on my sit-ups at home. I spent hours in front of the chesterfield, my feet anchored under the furniture.
These were the old sit-ups, where you lay down flat on your back, legs straight, feet secured. Then you lifted your upper body with your hands clasped behind your head, and touched elbows to knees.
As fast as you could.
(That style of sit-up is considered bad form these days, which is some slight comfort to know it wasn’t all just me and my feeble incapable self.)
The thing is, it hurt. My tailbone. It hurt like crazy! My gym teacher and my parents told me, of course physical activity hurts. It’s supposed to hurt somewhat! Ignore it! Suck it up! They assumed that I was over-reacting, and the unspoken message was that I was lazy.
I pressed on. Before long, I could no longer execute a sit-up without swinging my upper body to the right, in order to avoid pain in my psoas muscle.
Of course, in 1967 I didn’t know anatomical terms like psoas or coccyx. It was about fifteen years later when tailbone pain and recurring hip problems forced me to seek treatment. My family doctor said, “Live with it. Or you can have your tailbone surgically adjusted.”
Um. Thanks, but no thanks.
At the time, The Performer and I were living in an apartment above a chiropractor’s office. Performer received chiropractic treatment for neck pain, so I decided to try it out. I put on my fuzzy slippers and hobbled down the one flight of stairs for the consultation visit.
The chiropractor told me that my psoas muscle was to blame. “What happened to cause this?” he wondered.
“Well, let’s see… I used to carry newspapers, and I favoured the right hip to balance the load. There was the [aforementioned] 1967 Centennial torture trials. Oh! I fell from my balcony when I was a kid. But I walked away from that. Do you think that might have caused some problems?”
“Go on,” he said.
“Well, I landed on my hands and knees, basically. Like that yoga posture, the child pose. But my right knee was driven into the ground. Speaking of yoga, come to think of it I cannot perform a complete lotus pose. I have only partial range of motion with my right leg.”
“There’s a good chance that’s where it started,” he said.
Thus began a decades-long patronage of chiropractic and massage therapies.
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And thus ends my “back” story: the forward to my backward behaviour of a few weeks ago.
Final post is in the works.