OK so that is a big statement, let me explain. For your body to function effectively and efficiently without causing itself stress or injury it needs to be fully aligned. Now this of course is difficult as through life many things can happen to pull the body to come out of alignment – poor posture habits, sitting with our legs crossed at a desk, looking down at a computer, peering over glasses. All these things we do habitually teach our bodies to stretch out of alignment to accommodate those postures. Repetitive one sided sports – like golf, racquet sports etc and finally injuries, where healing leaves you out of balance. Having poor postural alignment must not be confused with not being fit – some of the best sportsmen and women can develop poor posture – think of a golfer who always swings his clubs one way, or a javelin thrower always using the same arm, a long jumper always taking off on the same leg. All these things are repetitive and make us uneven. If you are an avid yogi or love Pilates, you will know that sometimes you can do a particular posture or exercise easily on one side but find it impossible on the other.
When you are younger the body compensates for the crookedness without you really noticing, but by the time we are in our 50s we have had many, many years of ‘training’ our bodies to go crooked, you may also have had previous injuries that will have also contributed to misalignment and the compensating side of the body goes ‘OUCH!’. This is when pain starts, becomes chronic and can cause injuries to happen.
As women our bodies also go through significant events starting with pregnancy and eventually the menopause. In our 50s muscle mass and bone density reduce, you feel stiffer and less flexible. We can lose confidence in our bodies – feel they are letting us down, but all these things can be addressed by looking at your alignment and helping your body to function better. Our fifties should be the most amazing time of our lives, our time to reduce any discomfort or pain in the body as we move into the next phase of our lives.
Back, neck, shoulder, hip and knee pain are the most common ailments I see at this time of life. Sometimes this is also exacerbated by lack of overall fitness – so it is important to tackle that as well, however, if you are experiencing pain it can be difficult to undertake fitness programmes without making the pain worse or causing you greater injury. So always start with your alignment, see if you can fix that first and then any exercise you decide to do, you will be able to do with less likelihood of pain or injury.
In a nutshell, my job is to identify what is causing the problem and then give you the exercises that will help to remove the pain you are experiencing. The first thing I need to know is what pain you have – sometimes this is more than one site of pain. Then I can look at you and assess your straightness, your flexibility, your range of movement, then I create a series of exercises that will help you to correct the misalignment that is causing your pain. I offer one-to-one assessments (either in person or over zoom) and can create bespoke plans for you to work on at home. I also have classes, via zoom, for those who prefer to have the feedback and the class environment. I also have a YouTube channel covering the most common complaints that I see, so you can find the exercises targeted on specific areas. I am also creating a reference book, for people who prefer to be able to create their own programmes without having to jump on the computer.
Caroline Clarke lives in Tavistock, Devon with her husband Richard. Previously a competitive horse rider, Caroline re-trained in her 50s as a Postural Alignment Specialist after discovering The Egoscue Method, when her husband was suffering from debilitating knee and hip pain. Her aptly named company ‘Heal your Pain’ offering one-to-one assessments, group classes, online videos and a new book helping people of all ages and levels of fitness to straighten up and get themselves pain free.
I recently met Caroline through a Zoom class. It was quickly evident that Caroline has a unique way of assessing where your body needs realignment. She can identify where your pain is located and instructs you in simple manoeuvres to correct your alignment. After just one class with Caroline, I could feel where the discomfort in my shoulders and upper back had been released by some specific floor exercises. Unlike any class I have attended before, Caroline instinctively knows when you are working the correct areas of your body and when you are cheating! The day after I felt at least an inch taller and could no longer feel the tension in my shoulders from sitting for hours in front of a computer.
Sign-up to Caroline’s mailing list for details of her classes.