Sunday, November 16, 2008

Training - Back Dimples and Spasms

The other day I was brushing my teeth, just about to get into the shower, and realized that, well, I'm not fit.

I turned around to check out my back. If that doesn't have some definition then things are grim. I saw some definition, but I noticed something else. And this reminded me of just how skinny those pros are in the Tour and such.

You see, there's a spot (two of them) in your lower back where your pelvic bones sit just below the skin. There is no fat, no muscle, nothing between the two spots and the outer layer of skin. When I'm fit I can barely tell where they are - my skin dimples just a bit, but if I move at all the dimples disappear.

When I looked at my back with my toothbrush in hand, I had two big dimples.


This meant I was carrying around a lot of extra fat. My body had outgrown my pelvic cradle.

You ever watch those pro races where they're climbing some big climb and the camera is behind them? Pick a stage in the Tour, maybe one where there's a long break and the camera is following the guy 5k from the line, about to win.

Check out their lower backs.

You'll see the two pelvic bone spots. But instead of dimples, you'll see them jutting out of their jersey. They're so skinny their pelvic bones are sticking out of their body.

They're so skinny they've shrunk to the point that their pelvic cradle is too big for their body.

I don't ever remember being like that, but I didn't know to look for it when I weighed 100 or so pounds. I figure at 100 pounds my pelvic bones probably stuck out, but at my current 180+ (gasp!) they make for big dimples.

So this is something I gotta work on, one of the problems I have right now.

The other problem is that my current job, working in a hardware store that sells feed, has me constantly lifting heavy things. It's rewarding work, true - I feel like I've done actual work when I leave in the evening. I've always said I wanted to work a job like this, and it's still true. After work I'm inevitably exhausted, tired, and want to relax. But with neglecting my abdominals for a bit, lifting with my back, and the cooler weather, my back has been under considerable stress. This came to a head while I was blowing leaves off the small deck behind the house a couple hours ago.

One second I was figuring out the best tactics for getting leaves off of a square deck which has walls on three sides.

Then a crackle and a pop (no snap, so no Rice Krispies jokes) and suddenly my legs bent and I sank to the deck. My legs had given out because my back suddenly refused to support my upper body.

My back really didn't hurt until I tried to do something like, oh, say, sit. Or roll onto my side. Or stand. Or even reach to the handrail to stand.

Then it hurt.

But on my hands and knees, on the deck, I was totally comfortable.

The water off the wet leaves soaked into my gloves, but my back was comfortable. So it wasn't a bad thing, the wet gloves. I could feel my knees get cold as the moisture seeped through my jeans. But my back felt fine, so my wet jeans were fine. Plus, after a minute or two of wet knees, I didn't feel cold, not as long as I stayed still. Moving exposed a different part of me to wet, damp clothing, and, yes, that was cold.

I decided to shut off the leaf blower and the sudden quiet disoriented me even more.

Finally, after a few minutes of experimental movements, I could stand. I couldn't bend over though, and I must have looked kind of funny trying to pick up the leaf blower while keeping everything above those pelvic bone dimples (yeah those deep ones) nice and vertical.

I kept testing limits, learning that I could move this way but not that. I gave up, for now, on the hand held leaf blower (since my back has to hold it up) and decided to push the wheeled one around. After a bit of that my back seemed even better.

I did discover that the wheeled leafblower doesn't like being upside down. It rolled completely over - i.e. onto its back and then onto its wheels again - because my back limited my ability to keep it grounded on a sideways slope. Surprisingly it only started to hesitate while upside down, and when it righted itself (I let the blower complete its roll over thought), it roared back to normal.

I surprised myself by being able to use the handheld leaf blower (I'd figured out a way to do the deck and wanted to try it), and then I surprised myself even more by crawling under the deck (!!!). Those of you who know me know that I will not crawl into low dirt areas with bugs and spiders and icky things, and our deck is about 2 feet above a rocky bed of concrete, dirt, and leaves. Nevertheless I crawled under the deck to try and hook up a hose. It didn't work.

But I think of my sniper crawl under the cobweb-ridden, dirt-floored, wet and gross leaves/dirt covered sub-deck to be my 2009 HTFU boot camp. Saxo Bank, eat your heart out.

I have to admit that crawling didn't hurt my back at all, so that sort of encouraged me to do it.

I reported my progress (as well as non-progress) to the missus who found me trying in vain to hook up a hose to the spigot (an angled spigot which is located about 1/2 inch above the deck - so not very conducive towards screwing on a hose which is 5/8 inch in diamter). She'd whipped up a batch of shrimp scampi, placed the brownies next to them, and had Tiger come to the window and see who was making all the noise on the deck.

I decided to come in to try and relax my back a bit. Gathered food, sat at the table. Pulled out a bottle of hard cider and a bottle of lager and poured equal portions into a glass.


A nice soothing drink. To, you know, relax my back.


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