Thursday, March 24, 2011

Posing as Superman

We are at grave risk of floating away here in northern California; storm after storm sweeping in from the Pacific has raised the river levels by 20 feet or more, and the flood control boffins have opened the Yolo Bypass, which spills water into a huge flood basin between Davis and Sacramento. Much of Discovery Park, which you may recall as the site of the Golden State Triathlon last October, and a key part of of my bike commute, is under 2-6 feet of water. This is also on purpose, part of the whole flood control thing. And so I am not yet commuting by bike, though my back is well enough to do so. I've hit the gym a couple times for exercise bike action, which is dull and uncomfortable, and managed a few brief walks between storms.

I'm continuing my physical therapy, mostly. I have a sunny yellow exercise ball, upon which I'm supposed to do bridging, abdominal bracing exercises - a fancy name for crunches, really - and my favorite, the Superman. Poised on the yellow sun (not Krypton's red one), I balance my belly on the ball and my toes on the ground and stretch my arms out in front of me like, you know. That guy. The exercise part is staying stable while I bend my arms and bring my hands back down to my shoulders, kind of like a lat pull in a Superman position. I can do this for a long time. I'm supposed to squinch my buttocks together as hard as I can while I do this, but sometimes I forget because I'm having so much fun just balancing on the ball.

I'm not nearly as good at the abdominal bracing, which, as I noted, bears a suspicious resemblance to crunches. Bridging is pretty easy, but I have to keep my tail tucked way under as I do it, in spite of what Eight Steps to a Pain-Free Back says.

Oh, hey, the rain has stopped and the sky is brightening a bit. I'm going out for a walk.

[a bit later]

Oh my goodness, that air was fresh. Very, very fresh.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Un-weighting, Not Obsessing

Just a quick update. My back is pretty much back to where it was before the big episode of pain. That is, it hurts a bit and is stiff much of the time. I went to a pretty cool physical therapist at Kaiser who tested the strength and flexibility of my quads, hamstrings, butt, etc and showed me some good exercises. And I now have one of those giant exercise balls for the first time ever. I've used them at gyms and PT appointments, but now I have my very own. I'm supposed to do "Superman" exercises, which actually don't make me feel very super at all. These are to strengthen the butt, especially the left butt, which is an estimated 20% weaker than the right butt. Who knew? And I stretch my quads, especially the rectus femoris on the left side, and I take load off my lower back several times a day by leaning on a counter or table, or using the arms of a chair to un-weight the spine.

I had not one but two dear friends send me books on healing my back; so far it looks as though they directly contradict each other, but I'll see how it goes.

I notice that as I become more active again, my left knee is getting sore again. So far I've just been up to a couple of walks to and from the train station. Yesterday I push-mowed the lawn and that seemed to be enough for one day. Tuesday I have another PT appointment, so I'm going to check on what I can do to strengthen the knee too.

It's definitely a bumpy patch on the road to a Big Fat Fitness Comeback, but it has spurred me to start modifying my diet, my first serious attempt at this in a few years. I need to lighten the load on the spine and all the joints, since I don't ever want to go through 10 days like that again. I've logged back on to Weight Watchers, which has changed since I was last on it; I think for the better.

I am not going to make this a weight loss blog, except as it relates directly to the BFFC. I have had, in the past, a tendency to get very obsessive about food and weight loss when I've been working to drop pounds. I am very, very, serious about not obsessing this time. I'm not keeping a scale in the house, for example.

I will keep you posted more or less regularly on my transition from rehab back to training. I don't know how much I will be able to work the yoga into that, but obviously I will need to be diligent in some way about strengthening and stretching to keep all my bits in working order.

More soon, comrades!