Saturday, 5 January 2008


"The drugs dont work ,they just make you worse....."*


Bad back's been playing up again.Nothing to do with jumping the doubles at Llandegla.It's almost exactly 12 months since it was last proper bad.
My Sacro-illiac( S I ) joint was tweaked,at work, and the end result was I ended up at the osteopath for some manipulation,and following that ,a strong course of anti inflammatories .Over the last year it's been mostly OK ,on and off,but a few weeks ago it started up again.I've been putting up with it ,as you do,it's not been TOO bad.

Early this week it was a bit sore so I got down on the kitchen floor to do some stretches. I dont know if I've unintentionally self manipulated my SI on the hard floor,but ,the day after i got up early with just a small bit of back pain,the usual 1st thing,but this is the mad bit,numbness in my lower left leg,extending from in my buttock down through my calf and onto the bottom of my foot.I didnt really notice it 'til we got to the Trafford Centre and I started to walk any distance.Every 100yds or so I had to stop and sit down to let it calm down.Unfortunately I had to cut short a most enjoyable trip to the Trafford with 90% of the population of the northwest,and we went home . I spent the rest of the day in bed , zonked out on pain killers.The following day I got up with no pain in my back,at all, in fact sat here now it feels completely normal,however I still have the numbness in my leg.My leg is as weak as a kitten.My thigh muscle feels OK ,a bit tight, but my calf is so weak I cant stand on my tiptoes in a 'calf raise' even once.

So ,obviously , I havent been to the doctor yet. Last year all i was given was anti inflammatories etc and after a week or so it was alright.Bit of time ,bit of rest kind of thing.Dr Google though reckons the SI joint can lead to problems with the piriformis. A muscle deep in the buttock that runs directly alongside ,and sometimes around,the sciatic nerve. It can swell and trap the nerve ,effectively pinching off the motor messages to the muscles in the leg/foot.So I reckon I've aggravated that.I reckon it feels a little bit better today than yesterday so I'm gonna take it easy and see how it goes.

So ,any message in this post?

When we're younger we take our fitness for granted.If we work on any particular area it tends to be our cardio stamina or we try to build our strength. I for one didnt ever work on flexibility.Into my mid 20s i suppose i was fairly flexible without even trying.Today is my 39th birthday.How about that?I'm sure we'd all like to turn back the clock for a number of reasons .In a few weeks hopefully I'll be better and I'll be wishing i'd bought shares in microsoft as a teenager but right now I wish I'd worked on being more supple throughout the years.
Try 'youtubing' shaolin monks stretching . Those guys are mad flexible. They get that way by starting at 3 yrs of age and maintain it.It's like the old adage,"It's easier to keep fit than get fit".

So, is it 36 yrs too late for me?I dont think so.It's never too late is it?It's not that I'm totally rigid either ,it's just that I dont spend as much time stretching,warming up/down as I probably should and definitely not as much time as I do working out.Both at real work and on the bike.It's a time thing .If I have a 'window ' of a few hours to get out ,I want to spend it riding not tying myself in knots or warming up for ever more.

Depending on which books you read ,the importance of stretching varies. Hemingway hardly mentions it,Steven King even less.Maybe it's not as important as people make out,but common sense tells me it has to be a good thing.For me stretching must play a vital role in keeping muscles and joints strong and pliable so they are less susceptible to injury.I've seen ,and done, some fairly extreme stretches though and in the past,a long time ago ,there have been times I've been very supple.I did a bit of yoga years back.Once you get to a point of flexibility you think you still have it years later and just pull that bit too far.
So maybe I over did it the other day,probably.I suppose we're all trying to find balance and maybe thats just too far the other way.Build up slow.Like anything.
A fairly easy 'static' stretch ,- just holding a position with mild discomfort -,is better than shaolin stuff for most of us.It's like anything though ,we dont always have the time to keep on top of it ,'little and often'. And who wants to live like a monk anyway?

So what's the answer? I dunno.


I suppose the definition of cross training isnt mountainbiking+roadbiking+cycle commuting+BMXing.
This is going to be my new year/birthday resolution.A slightly more holistic approach.Rather than going mad and stretching when my back's sore,do it throughout the year so it wont be.And varied exercise too.Try and get to the pool once a week.Brisk walk.
And plenty water,a pinch of salt,no alcohol,work less,cut back on caffeine,lean meat,early to bed,ditch the chocolate,go to live in a cave..............

OK ,I'll give it a week or so and if it's no better I'll see a proper doctor


* verve.

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