After making sure I could stand and carry on, I was upset that I had taken my focus away from the trail. Instead of looking forward to see where the dogs were running, I lifted my head up, away from the path in front of me. Fortunately, my jaw wasn't broken from the fall, but I suffered a concussion that could have been avoided had I been mindful of how I was moving.
No Need To Fight Gravity
Alignment does not mean stacking ourselves stiffly like piles of blocks; it means being aware of the natural way our bodies work best while we are doing the activities of our lives. As a Chiropractor and Yoga Therapist, my patients and students have heard me talk often about the importance of good biomechanics. I believe that how we move plays an important role in preventing accidents and illness. By creating efficient alignment, our organs, muscles and joints function best, without fighting gravity. How we consistently move determines our shape and becomes our life story.
The dogs ran to me - I must have screamed - and Danny stood at my head licking my chin, letting me use his body as support when I was ready to stand. A headache began immediately, emanating from my jaws and continuing up both sides of my face to the top of my head. It was continuous and relentless for many weeks, along with a soft ringing in my ears, trouble focusing my eyes and a bit of nausea - all signs of a concussion. During the days that followed, any time I had to listen carefully to a conversation, or drive the long distances from my home to my office, the pain in my jaw increased, squeezing the cranial bones.
To relieve the pain in my head, I began taking hot showers, pressing steaming towels over my jaw, shoulders and forehead. My Yoga and Meditation practice also eased the headaches, along with cranial/sacral treatments from a skilled colleague.
I continue to walk the trails, but now I move WITH the uncertainty of the uneven surfaces I encounter created by dirt, rocks and streams. Instead of moving against gravity, I do my best to move with it, without compromising my safety. Anything can happen, as when heads collide in contact sports or when we fall and hit our heads hiking on a familiar trail. To avoid discomfort, think about following these simple rules:
1) Retract your head gently, aligning ears above shoulders;
2) Check the position of your chin - keep it neutral;
3) Use your eyes to see as much as possible, without changing head positions;
4) Keep your spine long, aligning ribs above hips;
5) Move your legs from your core, rather than shuffling your feet.
As the weather gets warmer, there are other things to watch for: Rattle snakes hidden in the dry brush and coyotes looking for food and water. But, if movement is relaxed and mindful, you can be ready for anything.