Monday, April 29, 2013

I Don't Always Swim with Dolphins, but When I do, They Fix my IT Band

I know that title sounds crazy, but bear with me.

This weekend, I was at Island Dolphin Care (if you read regularly, you know that this is a very special place to me). I'm working on promoting their marine science program as part of my final project for graduate school (I just finished my first year of grad school, one more to go!) and I went down there to teach a program to 36 third graders. It was so awesome and so much fun! They were such a great group and so funny. I asked the students to tell me some characteristics of mammals, and one student said "Well, they're all born with mustaches." It took everything I had to not laugh at that; it was so darn cute! He explained what he meant and it made more sense, but it really warmed my heart.

After the program left, Deena, the founder of Island Dolphin Care and author of "Breaths that Count" invited me to join her and the therapists for a "natural swim." A natural swim is a swim in the lagoon with the dolphins where there are no trainers giving behavioral commands and we're swimming around and listening and interacting with the dolphins in their own environment. We are not allowed to touch the dolphins, but they are allowed to touch us if they please. When I was an intern, I had the opportunity to do a structured swim, but I had never done a natural swim before so this was a new experience. As soon as I jumped into the lagoon, the dolphins were surrounding me and echolocating off of me. I swam next to Squirt and Tashi for a while when I started to play a game with Deena and Bob (the dolphin). I could feel the dolphins (and hear them) echolocating off of me when I was bumped (kind of hard) in my hip. As some of you know, I have been having some issues (off and on) with my IT band, particularly in my hip. Well, Lotus bumped me right where my hip was/has been tight and really giving me issues lately. I thought she just wanted me to swim, but I kept on playing. I started swimming around again, enjoying the whistles and clicks of my aquatic friends, when I stopped to talk to one of the trainers who was observing. Lotus bumped me again, right in the exact same spot of my hip. I grabbed a noodle and started playing with her, spinning in circles and swimming with it because that's what I thought she wanted to do. We did that for 10 minutes and had a blast (I know I did, I'm assuming Lo did too), before it was time to get out. When I got out, I mentioned to the trainer that I had been having hip issues and that Lotus had bumped me twice in the spot where I was hurting. She suggested that maybe Lotus had seen the difference in tissue density between my non-inflamed tissue and my inflamed tissues and was curious about it. My hip honestly feels amazing; it's almost as if Lotus broke up the scar tissue. It could be just that swimming helped my hips feel better (in which case I need to incorporate more swimming into my exercise regiment), but I'm going to say that it was the dolphins that fixed my IT band and made me feel better.

Moral of the story: Come visit me in Florida if you're having IT issues, and we will play with some dolphins to hopefully fix the issue. Who needs deep tissue massages when you're friends with dolphins?