I have taken, taken more, and taken yet again….way more than my proverbial fill. Consider me a glutton who continually would take from my body’s resources…and never gave back.
And to think the only thing I want out of all of this bike stuff is to pop wheelies and shred with my friends. To be the 50+ year old dad some day railing with my sons in Fruita or God knows where.
The past month I had a wake up call. Extremely scary and all demonstrable of the fact that living in fast forward for almost 20 straight years of riding, training and racing yet never giving back to my body what it needs to continue doing it. What happened? Well, let me explain…and I’m sure many of you will immediately know what I am talking about…
Race. Train. Ride. Race. Rest a bit. Train. Train. Ride. Eat Well. Race. Race. Train. Ride more.
Notice anything here? Lots and lots of on the bike volume. Some rest and thankfully due to my unbelievable wife, supreme nutrition.
But all this time: NO BODY CARE. No stretching, massage, yoga…NOTHING. And all the while my muscles getting stronger…but only in their repetitive planes of motion. Yanking, pulling, melding with one another into singular masses of muscle doing the same repetitions over and over. My regular routine was this…
- Train my butt off during the week…typically before work hours.
- Immediately shower and get back into work, slumped over my computer, or trapped in a tortuous seat on some airplane.
- Race on weekends
- Rinse and repeat for, oh ~20 years.
About a year ago, I’d finish a cross and my back would essentially be seized. As in ‘Robotic back.’ No real pain per se, just effectively rigor mortis of the back. Stiff as a board. It’d ‘fade away’ eventually so I never got concerned. I’d had no serious bike fit changes so attributed it to a case of the O.L.D. ™ Michael Robson.
Fast forward. About a month ago, the pain settled in. Truly (like I’ve heard it said before) like a stabbing pain. Right in the “Q-L” (quadratus lumborum) above my hip bone (the iliac crest). It was immobilizing. No sleep, difficulty walking, sitting, lying, bending over. A cripple.
And yes, like a child I was scared and freaked out that “this is it! I think my racing is done!” (Ha…).
And yes, this is exactly why I married my wife. She did the equivalent of the bitch slap of my small brain saying: “Dude…you need to give back for everything you take. Duh.”
And thus began my story of “The Obvious” and all the things I’ve done this past month to get back on track with the help of my wife and good friends here in town.
Here is a list of the things I am incorporating and integrating into my life which I would implore you all to do if you feel cycling is going to be one of those lifer things:
- Stretching – I do not know about you, but I was brittle. As in could not touch my toes. I began to slowly and steadily begin a DAILY stretching routine.
- 20min in the AM (first thing, before breakfast). Hamstrings, IT, QL, Glutes, Psoas and back. In addition getting my thoracic area to open (e.g. to work on preventing back rounding and better breathing)
- 40min in the evening (same pattern but integrated in strectch bands...e.g. HUGE rubber bands to help pull my legs farther)
- Massage - OK, I admit it's a blessing having my wife be a massage therapist...but even I have to beg to get time on her table!
- Trigger release therapy...to essentially fire the most problematic muscles literally 'releasing' them when they get into their defensive postures to protect the body when it's reacting to muscle issues.
- Back Stregthening via Foundation Roots - I am on my 2nd full week of this but it is rather mind blowing. See here for info. Get yourself to a class. DO NOT fool yourself that you can watch the YouTube videos and just do it. You really need to be assisted before you go on your own so you do not wreak havoc on your back muscles. CRITICAL for lower back strength. Especially for 'cross when your back is going UP DOWN UP DOWN UP DOWN for 60 minutes violently.
- Core Stregnthening – I am not a fat guy, but not a ripped 6 pack-core guy either. It all comes down to what’s under the surface not only of your stomach, but also of the back (see Foundation Roots above). But for core, I am doing a ton of strengthening to breath better and to generally support my body for longer periods under duress (think: a cross race).
- Physical Therapy - This was SO instrumental for my recovery. I visited my good friend, amazing PT and fellow 'crosser Charlie Merrill as he is the 'guru'. I was crippled and his treatment of physical therapy was amazing. I am working on plans with Charlie for 'maintenence' as well. The core of his work was:
- PT via deep manipulation of my muscles via slow and methodic pulling and stretching.
- Dry Needle Therapy- 6cm acupuncture needles deep within the muscles to literally/directly trigger and release them. It was the spark to get them to release deeply along with my wife's trigger release massage (deep...but not as deep as the needles can go).
So what does all this mean: More work. I need to put back in the till what I take out. It means that I need to tack on and carve out times of day where I need to focus on this. More balance needed so I can ensure my family and work needs are met, but allowing time for these critical things I need to do to keep rolling. And that means what you see above is now a forever part of my life. Many of you will read this and undoubtedly say: No shit, dumbass. But what can I say? I'm a full-gas guy and thus am paying for my sins blazing in fast forward all these years. But alas, I see the magic to this type of body maintenance and the benefits are already surfacing.
Hope it helps you in "planning for prevention!"