Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Back Issues 3

This explains that cool little Elvis hip thing I can do but also why I have so much difficulty with certain posture exercises with my back—especially rowing. This hypermobile region is susceptible to major forces but also sheering. Sheering is when the bones slide (like dislocation only not nearly as drastic). This is the feeling I had that if I could “just crack it back” I would be fine. The sheering literally pops my vertebrae out. When the bones slide the muscles in my back contract suddenly causing the bouts of pain I experience. The sheering increases my risk of herniated disks and worn disks. And it's not 'preventable' because it is set-off by regular daily use until my back decides that is a no go. In the long-term my back should become tighter and this will start to actually fade as an issue. Right now though, it will continue to be a problem unless I stay vigilant about a few things.

First, stretch. Stretching all of the muscles that could get tight is very important. The hamstrings connect to the 4th and 5th lumbars—so think of that. Stretch auxiliary muscles as well. The muscle groups in the core that are used for balancing and locomotion are many; it takes a lot to keep those muscles limber and reduce their strain. Particularly the butt, my PT said, “you have weak gluteals” which is her saying my butt needs to be a little bit tighter.

Second, exercise auxiliary groups. Many people think the core are the abs but the legs, back, and any stabilizing groups are involved in the core. By keeping those minor groups strengthened it greatly enhances the ability of the major groups to function. I seriously believe that this is a major cause of much of my pain as my ability to lift fairly heavy weights is good for major muscle groups but I haven't spent much time honing the minor groups to support that extra ability. When talking about this in a rowing context, I think it is important to add an emphasis on the groups that aren't associated with the main motion of rowing. My guess is that this will also help significantly with balance and setting the boat.

Third, be consistent. The exercises I have been doing feel minimal to say the least but I am always surprised at how tired and stretched I feel at the end of them. In order to improve it is imperative that I maintain a regimen that fixes my back.

The pay-off is enormous. I know that if I am good at this and consistent I can wrangle my pain back in to how it felt in the summer. And I know that someday I will be able to row and lift again. I'm very excited about the prospect of making it through this storm not just ok but better than I was. Walking home after this last session my back was super loose and I felt like I was walking on clouds, it had been so long since I had experienced no pain in my back I was kind of astonished. There was a certain clarity of thought I missed. I hope that I can feel that more.