About two years ago I had a hard fall which I described here. At the time I thought I had come out of that fall pretty well, because it could have ended so much worse. I took it easy for a while and I thought that time would put things right again. Unfortunately, some injuries don’t improve with time. One of those things was tinnitus in my left ear; I had some Cranial Sacral therapy and it did help, but it wasn’t a cure, and the tinnitus kept coming and going. There were other things. Aches and pains. Stiffness. It wasn’t too bad as long as I kept moving, but first thing in the morning or after driving I felt like an old woman. The last couple of months I got this weird feeling that my right leg was shorter than my left leg, and I began to feel a bit unbalanced.
When I was a child I wondered why the ticking of my clock was louder at night than during the day. My dad explained that it was because it was quiet at night, with no distractions from other noises, but also that the tiny muscles inside your ear relax at night, so your hearing is actually sharper. Tinnitus is like that ticking clock; what is bearable during the day becomes a high-pitched shrieking siren at night. Last week I had the worst tinnitus ever. It was keeping me awake. I felt wrecked. Then I had a visitor, the mother of one of my son’s friends came to collect her son. She remarked that I looked tired, so I told her it was lack of sleep due to an overdose of noise in my head. She looked at me and said: “You know, when you sat down there just now I noticed that you moved your head in a way that actually cuts off the flow of energy. Did you ever damage your spine?” She gave me the number of an acupuncturist who is also a Qigong teacher.
After I fell off that horse my GP sent me to the hospital for X-rays. They were clear. Basically that means no broken bones, because that is the only thing they look for; if anything has shifted it will go unnoticed. However, I always felt there was something wrong at the base of my skull. I can literally put my fingers on it. Anyway, I went to see the therapist and she observed how I moved as she asked me to stand, walk and sit down. Then I had to lie down. The therapist checked a couple of things and then she put her fingers right on the base of my skull and on a spot on the left side of my pelvis. She told me I had been knocked out of alignment and that my body had tried to cope with that by contracting on one side. Consequently, my right leg was now marginally shorter than my left leg.
Well, it is always nice to know that you’re not imagining things. Better even when there are exercises you can do that will improve the situation. A lot of physical injuries are compounded by bad or incorrect posture and exercises that improve posture will help the body to heal the effects of old trauma. Everybody who rides horses is aware of the importance of a good riding position. From our first lesson we are told to sit up straight, keep our heels down, our hands low and to keep your head up and look ahead instead of down at the horse’s shoulder. If your position on the horse is correct, than in theory you should land on your feet and be totally balanced if the horse suddenly vanished from underneath you. Interestingly, this a position called the Horse Stance in Qigong. The Horse Stance helps to realign the spine and is a basic Qigong position. Apparently, many riders find it extremely difficult to stand correctly in this position. I stood with my weight on my heels and my chin slightly lifted and stuck out. Both are very common when riders assume the Horse Stance for the first time and they originate in “heels down and head up”. And it is totally wrong.
Here is the correct way to assume the Horse Stance:
- Stand with your feet shoulder-length apart, measuring from your inside heels. Your toes should be pointed slightly inwards or parallel to each other.
- Knees should always be slightly bent and leaning out slightly.
- There is part of a groin area where your hip and thighs form a crease. This place must always be indented.
- The chin should be slightly tucked in, eyes softly looking ahead.
- The spine should be straight, the tailbone tucked in. Visualize hanging from a piece of thread from the top of your head, the rest of your trunk sinking down, just as if you were about to sit down on an imaginary chair.
- If you are standing properly, the back of your thighs and buttocks should be totally relaxed. They should be soft and shake when you pat them.
Sounds easy, but to stand without tension in your legs or back can take a bit of practise.