By Nelleke Dean
This winter, my husband Adriaan and I went on our skiing holiday in Austria. We love to ski but sometimes if the sight is poor or the ski slope is too crowded we prefer to go on a tour with our snowshoes. It is good exercise and usually a wonderful experience of “being with nature”.
This day it was snowing quite a bit and we decided to climb to a cabin we knew from a mountain tour we had been on years ago. We expected that the seven hundred meters altitude difference together with this deep snow could be beaten within three hours. It was beautiful to make a trail in the snow where nobody had been this day. There was so much snow that we couldn’t even see any trail-markers.
Adriaan has a lot of alpine-experience and we had a GPS with us that kept us on track with great accuracy. He went in front. It was a great experience of physical work to beat nature's beautiful challenges in the middle of nowhere -- just the two of us.
Halfway up I began finding that I could hardly bring my right leg forward. My old ischiadic nerve was tight and holding my leg. It was a bit frightening, there in the loneliness.
Then there was a little voice in my head, “Why don't you move around your pain? Can you improve the distribution of this movement?"
"Yes, why not; but how?” I asked myself in response to my own question, “Focus on the experience of movement and not on the pain. Change your pattern!" I thought.
So I started to analyze how I walked. I began exploring the possibilities.
“Where is my head in relation to the rest of me?”
“Where are my eyes looking?”
“Do I see the mountain or just the track?”
“Is my head more up or is it down?”
“What happens if I walk with more or less arm swing?”
“Should I increase the trunk rotation or lessen it?”
“What happens in my back?”
“Is it straight, is it hollow or is it curved?”
“And if it is one of those, can I change it into the other?”
“What is my pelvis doing?”
“Can I increase or decrease the tilting from side to side?”
“What is getting longer?
“What is getting closer to the white floor and in what order?”
“Are my hips sinking or is it just because of the deep snow?”
“And what about my knees? Is the movement the same on the one and on the other side?"
“What are the ankles doing? Where does the movement start in the ankles and how is it going through the foot to the toes?
Suddenly I realized my leg was responding in its normal way!
Adriaan, who was making the trail in front of me, had noticed that I was very quiet and a bit slower than normal. He had to wait for me a few times and asked if everything was going well. He told me later he was a bit worried. Since he was walking ahead of me he hadn’t noticed what I was doing. I didn’t want to bother him with my back and leg problems and I didn’t have the time to explain what I was doing! I was very busy finding out my pattern of moving and exploring what I could do in a different way while walking.
Later, when we got to the top and were enjoying our hot chocolate and the beautiful view, I told him what had kept me occupied on the way up and how, by being aware, asking questions and changing my movements, I was able to move with more freedom and ease. Of course, he was very happy and impressed with this fact!
I am so happy that I can apply what I am learning in real life. I have been working with Adriaan and he is beginning to notice more comfort in his movements as well.