I was sorting though old papers recently when I came across the original instructions my physical therapist Paula wrote out for me on the Muscle Energy Technique, back in 2014.
A lot of people have asked me about her original instructions, as I’ve been running this blog. I think people want to know how she taught me, and in what way, and what the process was like for me to learn it.
And of course, I remember all this. But the funny thing is, the one thing I could never remember was which side it was that was actually bothering me at the time I learned it.
The bad side vs. the good
Throughout my five-year battle with SI joint dysfunction, I’d always have one side that would be the bad side. In other words, the side that locked up— where the ilium would rotate backwards and get wedged about the sacrum.
It would always be the same side, for months on end. Mainly because the ligaments on that side would be more stretched out, and my muscles also more used to shifting in that direction. It would be a pattern in the body that would become somewhat ingrained, until something might happen to make it switch. I’d turn funny; twist too fast. I’d go over a bump in the car, and hit it just right.
Then it would switch– all of a sudden, it would be the “good” side that became the side that was locking up for months.
At the time, this was an impossible detail to forget. Every second of my day would seem to revolve around it– walking carefully, planning my movements, attempting to do my pool exercises. All I wanted was for my joints to stay unlocked, so I could do things. So I lived my life based around trying to avoid setting off the “bad side.”
The Muscle Energy Technique
Using the Muscle Energy Technique, the way I was taught, requires knowing which way the ilium (or hip bone) has rotated. If it’s rotated forward, you want to bring it backward. If it’s rotated backwards, you want to bring it forward. These are two totally separate actions, so a big part of knowing how to use MET is actually knowing how to tell which way your hip bones have rotated.
So when people would ask me about my original instructions, I knew they would have had to be specific to which way my SI joints were going.
But for the life of me, I just couldn’t remember.
Not that it really made a difference, in terms of explaining things to readers. It’s just that, for me, it would have been such a significant detail at the time– something that really dominated my daily life.
So after everything I’d been through on this journey (as you can see, learning to use MET was #7 of my eight major steps to recovery)…. the fact that I’d forgotten this key detail was proof, to me, of how far I had come.
Something that dominated every waking second of my day had officially become a thing of the past.
I’d found this before, with previous injuries (especially back when I was running in high school). The memories of once-traumatic pain and injury really can fade over time. I’ve been amazed by some of the details that can become blurry (and it’s probably best that they do!).
But this doesn’t bother me to remember, at all. Finding this sheet paper was really just a wake-up call, of how far I’ve come.
It is possible to heal, so much that you forget which side even was your bad side.
I know some of you out there feel hopeless at times, but I promise you, so I did I. It can get better. If I can heal, so can you.
As always, if you have any questions, you can leave a comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.