Saturday, May 26, 2018

First Steps and Thoughts on Form

  Yesterday was the first day I was allowed to start weaning off the crutches.  I was supposed to start putting more weight on the leg while using the crutches and to spread about 20 minutes of unassisted walking over the course of the day.  I have been religiously following the guidelines for my return and as such I have definitely been chomping on the bit the last few weeks to take some steps.

  My first unassisted steps came when I was carrying my morning tea and oatmeal to the table.  I am at best uncomfortable being waited on and not being able to carry liquid unless it was in a container has been very annoying.  As I have been  doing exercises and getting around and feeling very little if any pain it was shocking to put my weight on the leg and feel how stupendously weak it was.  I could only walk with a shaky slow limp and my upper body tilting heavily on the bad leg stride.  The best thing I can relate the feeling to is when you are lifting weights and you get to the last few reps of a max set and suddenly you can't seem to make the muscles do the task.  I was right on the the edge of that.   After only a few steps when I sat I could feel noticeable fatigue.   It cleared quickly though and I was able to keep mixing in bits of walking through the day.  I had no real pain just the occasional burning feeling around the scar.  As an aside I really should take a picture of that thing and post it, not really safe for work, given that it would basically be a pic of my ass, but it is about 8 inches long and not too pretty.  Melissa gagged the first time she saw it, which was a great reaction to get from a beautiful woman!

  The limp had me really thinking about my muscular cross training plan for re-balancing my muscles, and myself neurologically.  Imbalance and running are not good.  Honestly I'm of the believe you can generally get away with doing a lot of stuff wrong with your form if you can do it in a balanced way but if you are out of balance it is very hard to stay healthy.  To say I'm out of balance now is an understatement and a half.  I am entirely unaware on a conscious level that I am standing with all or nearly all my weight on my left leg and I can barely step on the right without some pretty funky upper body movements to get through the process.  This is all expected but experiencing it really has been hyper aware of the job ahead.

  My plan for neuromuscular work is two fold.  First more for the neuro side is feldenkrais.  I have been doing this for a year or so and am a huge fan.  These strange "exercise" sets are basically a rewiring of the connection from your brain to your muscles and cause you to run very differently, and much more naturally, without really thinking about it.  Teaching yourself to make even a small change in form is generally a long hard nearly impossible process and often the outcome is unnatural and not at all what the goal was.  This is the complete opposite, it is fast, it immediately feels natural and it looks natural and un-strained.   The one draw back is that it teaches you to move a certain way but then basically expects you to just do it and be better.  My experience, and in all fairness this could be largely caused by the volume and speed of the running I generally do, is that this doesn't work too well.  My muscles fatigue out and I end up falling back into bad habits and this really slows the change.  So part two is muscular work.  I will be slowly adding back in my functional muscular exercises.  These range from Olympic lifts to drills and jumping exercises.  These along with a ton of massage to undo the knots in my back and hips from crutch-ing around for two months will be key to avoiding setbacks once I can get running again.

  In terms of timing I will start the feldenkrais long before I can run as that is movement stuff, not even body weight lifting.  However I do need to be able to do a resistance-less clam before I can start and that is still a while coming. I follow an 8 exercise series of feldenkrais exercises from .  I'll do the main longer lessons, 50 to 80 minutes each,  only once or twice each.  I'll do the follow up lessons, 15 to 40 minutes, 1 to 10 times each depending on where I'm needing to make improvements.  Then I'll do the very short 3 to 4 minute lessons pretty much daily.   These shorter ones are more about maintaining good form and slowly touching up your form but they are super easy to mix in and they do a great job of preventing me from slipping back into old habits while ever so slowly actually helping my form improve.

  The muscular side will be largely under the control of the PT and then Anna.  This is not my area of expertise and I am a believer in finding good people and doing what they tell you when you don't know too much about something.  I have some basic things I'd like to do.  I would like to be back to dead lifting around 300lbs.  I want to be doing around 60 front squats, broken into sets, with around 100lbs and I want to be squatting my body weight for sets of 6 to 10.  Additionally I would like to get to doing sets of 10 to 20 pull ups, as I feel these really help my weakest point, my lats.  Which I think impacts my form and may be putting undue stress on some of my trouble areas. 

  I have started back at the pull ups already but the rest of the stuff is a while off.  Currently I'm just doing some super easy weightless motions or exercises with 1 to 2 lb wights or light rubber bands.  I am improving but I would rate my current fitness/ability with these as active grandma.  I'm hoping to get them to exceptional grandma but the middle of next week but we'll just have to see.

  The two things I see as most critical in this comeback are first the start.  I need to get out in front on some of this before I take a running stride to build the proper environment in my body for running.  Second will be the early stretch when I'm building up from zero running to about 4 miles.  If I can do good work in that stretch so that the running I'm doing is an extension of the good body work I'm doing I think I'll really be able to hit the ground running come October and I think I'll improve much quicker as I'll be firing on all cylinders and not be in a situation where my body is fighting itself.

  So that is where I am and where I'm going in terms of mechanical motion and standing on my own two feet.  I hope your ahead of me in both categories at the moment.

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