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THERAPIST TRIES TO TURN `CROOKED’ MAN DOWN STRAIGHT PATH

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I forgot how to walk, and I sleep in a weird position.

Sounds silly, I know, but such discoveries are helping me.I've been having this long-term trouble with my left leg. Since I was in the habit of walking three miles a day for years, it was a blow.

I went to a string of doctors and had numerous tests, some of which suggested a bulging disc in my back.

Finally, I ended up as a patient of Stacey Osborne, a knowledgeable physical therapist at LDS Hospital. Stacey is also personable - you would love her.

She puts me through a series of aerobic, weight-lifting and stretching exercises and applies heat through electrical currents.

That last part feels so good that I actually go to sleep - only for 15 minutes. Maybe it's because she puts me through hoops first, you know, conditioning.

I start with biking, then move to strengthening exercises for arms and legs.

I end with my legs overlapping a large ball so I can lift my lower back off the floor ("bridging").

When Stacey was "giving me a good stretch," she asked me to show her my most common sleeping position. I promptly turned over on my stomach and demonstrated how I sleep.

She collapsed in laughter. It was the funniest sleeping position she had ever seen.

She feared it would put too much pressure on the lower part of my back - and she suggested sleeping in the fetal position, on my side.

"Actually, any position would be better than yours."

Gee, thanks.

Then she videotaped my walk up and down the room and on the treadmill.

When I was finished, she said, "You don't swing your right arm as much as you do your left arm. Why not?"

"Uhhh. I really hadn't thought about it."

"You also don't rotate your trunk enough as you walk. Usually, when someone walks with a limp, I can tell immediately which leg it is, but I wasn't sure with you. I think you need more rotation. This week, try swinging both arms equally."

I told Marti about it, and she said I also needed to lengthen my stride. She thought my steps were too small.

So for several days, I practiced walking differently - and my pain dramatically lessened.

After Stacey had watched the videotape several times, she engaged me in additional "gait analysis."

She said I lean forward as I walk, as if my head is trying to get there first. I need to stand erect, meaning there should be a straight line from my ear to my shoulder to my leg.

She said I need to take a longer stride, to swing my legs farther, both front and back.

When I said Marti had already suggested that, she said, "We've got to hire her." She said the long muscle that runs from my pelvic area to my knee - the "I.T. band" is tight.

Then she discovered that when I walk, the medial bones in the midtarsal region of my left foot rotates inward. (That's the way physical therapists actually talk.)

In other words, the foot comes down on its inner margin - it's called pronation.

So she gave me insoles to put in my shoes. She also said my posture sort of wilts to the right, like a golfer waiting to tee off.

Another therapist said, "You need to stand plum - like Stacey."

I'll keep working at it.

Only thing is it's easier to try to correct my walking and my posture than it is my sleeping. When I walk, I can concentrate on each step - but when I wake up in the morning, I can't remember whether I was sleeping funny or not.