Tuesday, April 13, 2010

A Body in Motion...(Don't Stop! Don't STOP!!)

I have just experienced a week from Hell.  I spent 5 days flat on my back, alternating ice and heat, downing Advil or Excedrin, depending on the day, hoping and praying that the debilitating back spasms I was experiencing would STOP! so that I could get on with my BUILD CYCLE...

Imagine my surprise when, last Monday, 10 minutes before my athletes arrived for their yoga class, I bent down to about knee-level in order to put a bag of candy on a shelf and POW!  I could not straighten up again...

Tears rolling down my face, I greeted the 'stiff' athletes who look to me to help them get limber and flexible...and thought... how I wish I were inflexible like you!!

It's interesting to note that when one is a yoga teacher and very flexible, others think that this means no such experiences as noted above... Unfortunately, my experience is just the opposite.  I am what is known as a 'hypermobile' individual.  All those years of practicing gymnastics and yoga from childhood onwards... yes, I'm limber... and yes, it's true, I don't really have to stretch out much the way other runners and athletes are encouraged to do by coaches and instructors (including myself!!)... it doesn't benefit me anyway...I'm already loose and limber... perpetually... problem is, when your ligaments are loose, there is really nothing holding you together. 

I call it 'Broken Dolly Syndrome'.  You remember Dolly, don't you?  She was made of paper or cardboard, and her limbs and head were held to her torso by those grommet things that allowed you to move them around... and if they were too tight, she didn't move very well and if they were too loose, they spun around?  Well, that's how I function around my core area... my stabilizing muscles don't fire when and how they are supposed to and I end up falling apart. (Note:  this does not preclude me from doing deep yoga poses... or evoking envious glances from others who wish they could bend as easily as I... just don't ask me to try to run, bike or swim without screaming).

Last year I did not race and barely trained at all.  I spent all of last summer with my physiotherapist, who taught me techniques and exercises for stabilizing my mid-section so that I don't look like I'm doing the Hula every time I walk, run, swim, etc... I thought all of my troubles were gone for good... sigh... wishful thinking... I had forgotten my main trigger...

I seem to be fairly typical in that my experience is very similar to that of other hypermobile individuals (my heart goes out to them)... but the (typical) athletes that I encounter have a much different view, as do my co-workers at the office.  'You're doing too much!'.  'You need to rest!!'.  'Maybe you are overtraining...?' 'You need to take some time OFF'.  It all sounds sensible but the sad truth is that my biggest downfall and precursor to being immobilized by these flare ups is:  INactivity!  Yes, you heard me... what did I do to bring on this horrendous period of disability?  Simple... I spent extra time in bed, resting, for about 3-4 days, in order to cure a respiratory bug... how frustrating is that?!! 

The only way for me to stay mobile is... well... to keep MOVING.  No marathon movie sessions on the couch, or lounging around in bed with the papers or curled up with a good book... if I expect this body to function optimally, I have to keep it in forward motion... (I think I feel tired just thinking about that...)

Well, I do have an interest in endurance sports... and they do tend to keep you moving for an extended amount of time... (especially when you are slow like me...).  I guess should plan to be involved in endurance activities for a long time to come...  (as I begin to ponder all of the wonderful adventures upon which I can embark in my future...half-marathons, marathons, cycling trips, IM... wow... the options are many...). 

Here I am a week later and almost as good as new... ready to begin building upon my fitness again... my body seems happiest when running... I'd better give it what it wants...

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