In Walk Tall, Sara Meeks describes in laymen's language an exercise program for postural correction and for the treatment and prevention of osteoporosis, scoliosis, low back pain and other musculoskeletal disorders. It also is wonderfully effective for persons, like me, afflicted with arthritis.
Applying the program that Sara Meeks has put forward in Walk Tall has produced results that have changed my life and stunned my doctors. It has corrected joint instability, reduced pain, and improved my strength, mobility and flexibility. In less than five months, it has added 1.7 inches to my height.
I thought it might interest readers if I were to elaborate my personal experience using this exercise program. Then I will comment on certain particulars of the book.
In the early winter of 2000, at the age of 64, after having had a systemic arthritic condition akin to rheumatoid arthritis for 42 years, I planned, at the recommendation of physicians, to undergo total knee-replacement surgeries on both legs and I anticipated, according to my orthopaedic surgeon's medical report, the need, later, for surgical fusing of my ankles. Several times each day, my right knee had become so unstable that it would not straighten enough to support my weight. On those occasions, I sometimes had to struggle through pain for as long as a half hour to straighten and stabilize my knee again. Even when my knees were at their best, my overall posture was crouched and bent forward. I more crept than walked, and frequently had to rely on crutches. Nevertheless, determined to complete my upcoming Spring-semester obligations as a university professor, I postponed my operations until the summer months.
It was then, in December of 2000, that I heard Sara Meeks being interviewed on National Public Radio about her book, Walk Tall, and about her physical therapy clinic in Gainesville, Florida where she treats patients with osteoporosis, scoliosis, back pain, postural dysfunction and allied conditions. I bought a copy of her book, observed that it was written in direct and clear language, and then did what I frequently do-I procrastinated.
After hobbling through the Spring semester of 2001, I started reading Walk Tall, and tried some site-specific exercises for strengthening and increasing flexibility. After a few days, I noticed improvement. I phoned Sara Meeks and had my first appointment scheduled at her clinic May 29, 2001. My plan was to see if she could help me get in better physical condition to undergo surgery and the lengthy, physical-therapy rehabilitation that would be needed after bilateral total knee replacements.
Four and a half months later, after fifteen clinic visits and diligent adherence to the home exercise program in Walk Tall, both my knees are stable, my other afflicted joints are much better, and my overall strength, flexibility, mobility and posture are much improved. My primary physician and my rheumatologist are pleased and astounded. I haven't seen my orthopaedic surgeon again because I'm no longer contemplating the need for surgery.
THE BOOK, WALK TALL
The title, Walk Tall, perfectly fits the book's purpose, which is to enable a person not only to overcome flawed posture, but also to walk smoothly while maintaining an erect and aligned bearing. The methods by which this goal is to be achieved are explained in eight chapters. Many instructive illustrations accompany the clear and gracefully written explanations.
Chapter 1 (Mental Imagery) introduces four visualizations designed to improve posture. In my experience, focusing on these visualizations during everyday activities has indeed benefitted my posture. Additionally, to assure a correct execution of each exercise described in later chapters, I've found it essential to visualize (or imagine) every detail of an exercise just before doing it. Chapters 2 through 5 (Site-Specific Exercises; Balance; Walking; Scapular Stabilization) describe exercises performed while seated, supine (on the back), prone (on the stomach), standing and walking. These exercises are designed to improve strength, flexibility, and mobility. In my experience, adherence to this exercise program not only has yielded such improvements but, surprisingly, also has reduced joint pain and swelling while correcting the problems with joint stability that I've described earlier. Chapters 7 and 8 describe how to maintain good body mechanics during the activities of daily life. A useful Glossary defines technical terms. I've found it and the Index to be helpful.
The author, Sara Meeks, has both graduate and undergraduate degrees in physical therapy and has nearly 40 years of clinical experience. In 1994, she became an APTA Certified Geriatric Clinical Specialist. Besides her work in her clinic, Sara Meeks is an educator. A look at her informative website reveals that this year, at nearly 20 cities nationwide, she will offer courses to physical therapists and professionals in allied fields. These courses deal with the comprehensive physical-therapy treatment of patients afflicted with osteoporosis and related ailments.