Sunday, September 23, 2012

What a Pain in the...

Lower back!  What did you think I was going to type?  Well, the pain is so low on the back it might as well be the upper arse…  Over 2 months ago I threw out my back picking up a small bag with my swimsuit, goggles, and shampoo.  It happened once before but it lasted a LOT longer this time!  2 weeks in I still hurt and couldn’t walk completely upright.  My lab-mates/co-workers encouraged me to rest, shared their lessons-learned and talked me into getting an MRI.  It took a while – lots and lots of waiting, a few appointments later and voila!  Diagnosis = narrowing spondylosis at L3-L5.  WTH I say?  It’s a fancy term for compressing discs.  See some pretty pictures of my back… 
Initially, I was scared that I would never do triathlon again.  Over a month later and I could barely run L  I went for some very mild hiking in Phoenix while at the National Neurotrauma meeting and didn’t anger my back so I tried getting on an elliptical trainer… maybe too soon.  Later that same day I ceased feeling the back side of my right leg.  Very weird feeling.  I joked about it – at least it didn’t hurt any more… maybe I can go harder because I won’t feel the pain… not so much.  When the numbness finally went away, I started gently swimming and biking, but I couldn’t stop thinking about my plans to ride 6-Gap and Rev3 South Carolina in a few months.  All I’ve read online encourages me that this will not put an end to my running/triathlon.  It’s hard to be patient when I was so excited about training again.  So far, biking and swimming don’t piss it off and running a little here and there feels okay…  We all have our own threshold.  Hopefully we all can recognize the difference between sore muscles and blisters from our training versus irreversible damaging pain.  At what point do you stop from the pain?  I’ll let you know as 6-Gap and Rev3 South Carolina approach.  Until then, here are some GREAT exercises Josh at Therapy 1 showed me – they’ve helped find my weaknesses and fix them so I can ride and run without lower back pain!!!  YOU should start these BEFORE you have a back problem!!!  Plus, I got a cool shirt when I graduated from physical therapy!!!
Don’t forget to warm up!
 Cobra/Up-Dog (For resistance I ask my hubby to hold my hips down) 

Plank with Rear Leg Lift (Not my favorite as I desperately try to keep a straight face… the neck beins give it away… this is a tough one!)

My favorite: Lumbar Quadriped (“Fire Hydrant”) Place something on your lower back.  It should NOT fall off!  You want to keep your hips level which means you may not be able to lift your leg high. 

Knee Step-Ups (20”+)

Kneeling Twist

Push ups (Keep your back straight!  Have someone watch you so you don’t have to twist your head looking in a mirror to check.)

Squat row (For balance, I put a riser under my heels)

Lumbar Stretch

Superman!  (Do NOT bend all the way over!  Only about 20o up and down.  After the first set try a set staying at the top and rotating your upper body slightly 15x similar to swimming freestyle.  You should feel your obliques SCREAMING!)  If you’re wondering what 20o looks like, check out the protractor – it’s almost ¼ NOT ½!!!
Superman with a Twist!

Some other good exercises not pictured:
Lumbar Bridge (both legs, then one leg only – keeping hips level)
Quadruped Diagonals or Same side (without then with bands)

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