Oct. 10, 2017

Them young’uns don’t know how good they got it, she grumbled. I remember when I, too, stood up out of bed in the morning and felt FINE.

Now when I stand up, it’s time to take a little inventory.

How’s the back? Good? Excellent. Take a few steps – knees complaining? Ankles feel like they’re carved from a solid, inflexible block of wood? Do I hobble just for a few feet or for more than a few? Does going down the stairs involve both arms braced to either side to ensure the joints don’t have to reach TOO far all at once?

The warm-up phase of the day can be MOST informational!

Since I’ve been working out with Barbara, my most chronic problem (knee pain on the stairs) has vanished, and now I hobble for a step or two but it fades quickly each morning.

But THIS morning I inventoried a wicked pull in my back on the right side. Of course my first thought was – KIDNEY INFECTION. I’M DYING. You know; like you do.

But I went to see Barbara and she had me run through my “HEP.” (Home Exercise Program. I’ve done it for five evenings in a row! So if I was doing something wrong, I was REALLY doing something wrong.)

It was the bridging part that caused me to wince. “Youp! Not doing THAT again!”

Do you know bridging? It’s one of these ridiculously simple movements that’s taken me months to be able to do to Barbara’s satisfaction. Lie on your back, knees up and feet flat on the floor. Tilt your pelvis up. (This, by the way, was where I was failing. Took FOREVER to figure out how to do that and build the muscles that made it possible.) Now lift your hips up – don’t let your pelvis tip down again. Use your butt muscles to push up, not your thighs. Hold for a bit… then SLOWLY lower your hips. Rinse and repeat until Barbara is satisfied.

But not today. Even before I lifted, the pelvic tilt caused me to yip.

I looked to Barbara, trustingly.

“Your ribs are way up. Tuck them down. No, more. More. They’re still up.”

Finally Barbara had me pressing my spine into the mat like I was a hydraulic press, trying to crush vertebrae. MAN, I had that mat imprinted! My obliques, over my ribs, were glowing like coals on a chilly evening; I had the SWEET gym burn going on in my core.

Sure enough, my back hurt less. So we did quasi-bridges (no pelvic tilt) until my back loosened up enough to do them right; then we did the real ones for a while more. By the end, no wincing. No pain. Barbara is a genius.

Then I went to stretch class with Chad where I realized what I’d done to cause the back problem in the first place. I’ve been doing my HEP and then straddling the foam roller while I watched Rachel Maddow each evening, trying to stretch out my adductor magnus (which goes right up the inside of your thigh from knee to deep in the groin; it looks a little ugly-pornography to be rolling it out, but I’m determined to loosen the muscle in my left leg, which is taut enough for a tightrope act).

And as soon as we started that stretch in Chad’s class, my back got angry all over again.

Oh. Duh. I was doing it to myself; all that time almost on my belly with a foam roller hiking my leg and hip to the left was crushing the will to survive in the muscles on the right side of my back.

Maybe take a few days off the adductor magnus stretch. (Although I DO love that name – adductor magnus. Definitely a Danish soldier in a high-collar uniform; very upright and starchy and brass-buttony, with a tremendous blond mustache and a belligerent attitude. He could USE a little stretching… but not for a few days!)

There’s no larger point here. I’m just thinking about how all these things are connected.

Grumpy Grandpa Simpson picture provided (without permission; thank you, Google images) as an illustration of how old I am for a few seconds when first getting out of bed in the morning.

Screen Shot 2017-10-10 at 8.59.40 PM

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