Friday, May 21, 2010

Want to come back to My gym bouncy bouncy?

No, My hovercraft is not full of eels. (opens second browser window; types in ''; gets '404 Cheap Hovercraft Not Found'; sighs heavily)

Last Tuesday, while I was on holidays, I acquired a rather sore back for no particularly good reason. In other words, I was *not* moving hundreds of pounds of gravel, purchasing mass quantities of cat litter, or digging up the back yard.

In fact, I first noticed the aching immediately after getting up from a chair in a donut shop, which followed a five-hour Sudoku session at the dining room table while the new furnace in Astrejurhof was being installed, which followed two straight days of sleeping in till noon.

This unfortunate physical condition (or lack of conditioning, as it may be) persisted right through My week off -- Somewhat hindering My ability to mix concrete, do landscaping and move the aforementioned gravel and cat litter.

But when I found Myself back at work on Monday and the sore back was still there, I got serious. I tried analgesics and muscle relaxants; a heating pad; and finally I just broke down and looked up 'back pain' on the Internet.

A couple of pages later, I found it: Something called PNF stretching. PNF is short for 'proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation,' and it involves varying combinations of static and dynamic stretching.

In My case -- And how befitting a Springy Goddess! -- it was the hold-relax-bounce variety that did the trick. It wasn't enough to just bend over and do some holding and relaxing; I had to add in a very, very careful* slow-motion bounce to take Me deeper into the stretch.

At this point, the real culprits were flushed out: My tight calf muscles and hamstrings were the actual cause of the backache.

So I did some more cautiously bouncing stretches. My back got even better.

Now, on Friday night at the end of a full work week, I'm pretty much back to normal. The leg tension is down about 80%, and when I bend forward with My legs straight I can get the top of My head within 7" of the floor.

Cancel that order for the hovercraft... I think I'll invest in a rebounder.

Or that thing that Van Halen used in the video for "Panama"...

* Oh, and did I mention 'careful'?

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Springy Boot Camp 2010

Awright, you grunts, suck in them divine guts! Hup! Hup!

Ah, fitness. *grumble grumble* All those years of lifting weights and practicing martial arts and swimming and yoga and walking several miles to and from work and jogging past the occasional Rolling Stones concert because I couldn't get tickets... You'd think that my body would stay fit.

Well, it didn't. And that's why I'm trying to do something about it.

Currently, due to ongoing leg problems (including but not limited to patellofemoral syndrome, lymphedema, osteoarthritis, various remote fractures and sprains and pulled ligaments, and generalized crankiness) I'm waiting to get into physiotherapy and won't be heading back to karate any time soon. If I want to flex my knees more than 45 degrees, there had better be a wall or railing nearby, or there's going to be a lot of cursing and swearing going on.

Ironic: I can touch the floor with the palms of both hands with both my legs ramrod straight; kneel on the ground for prolonged periods while gardening; even do a respectable front split with little or no warm-up.

But step up off the sidewalk to get onto a bus? Ow.

So now I'm looking for alternate ways to shape myself up a bit and take off some of the load. To this end, I've decided that I need low-impact aerobics and core stabilization (translation: killer abs and back muscles.)

I'm already walking home from work at least a couple of days a week, which is good for an hour of rather laid-back cardio; but it's not enough. After an inspired Internet search for "dance aerobics" I found something called "Bollyrobics," essentially Bollywood-style dance moves with a rather pleasing beat. Learning dance steps has never come easily to me, but I managed to follow along for a good 10 minutes without my brain exploding.

As for the core stabilization, I went upstairs and fetched Rover, a terrifyingly mauve exercise ball that was last seen trying to fetch Patrick McGoohan back to some weird little island Village. Rover is now my official Clarinet Practice Chair. Try sitting on that for an hour while playing G# minor melodic scales, the a piacere sections in Nocturne by Luigi Bassi, or *ack!* Page 22 by Gustave Langenus.

That which does not kill me makes me stronger...