Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Pairs Intu-Flow

My lady woke up with me this morning and we worked through the Intu-Flow Beginner Program together. Except for a few new movements, I am finding this relatively easy to maneuver through given my practice of Z-Health. This doesn't count the fact that my range of motion is affected in some areas because of my current back injury. But for now, I'll just have to take my time and shave it off.

I also think part of my continued back discomfort is stemming from how I sleep. While I am most comfortable sleeping on my stomach, I think it is creating additional stress where I am trying to alleviate things. I need to re-train myself here. At least for the short-term.

On another note, did you see the Ice Chamber video? Those Kettlebell Girls are hard core! Check them out... http://www.icechamber.com/videos/ickbgirls.html

Monday, September 29, 2008

Shave It Away

I am happy to say that on Saturday the FedEx man delivered to me the deluxe package of Intuflow, Born to Move and Xtension with mini clubbells!

I have cracked the binding on Born to Move, sampled the Intuflo and Xtension DVDs and am amazed at how heavy a 5lb clubbell feels in one's hands.

Yesterday I was able to get my wife and myself to start working Intuflow together.  We began with the Beginner program and worked down to our thorax.  I'm hoping she'll start getting up early with me to continue working the program. (I'll have to ease her into it.)

This morning I continue to work my physical therapy exercises and Intuflow, now with the new focus of "shaving away the discomfort".  Scott mentions this in Intuflow.  It means you don't stretch or move into a painful area (which I was just a bit guilty of), but work right up to it and gradually, over sessions, shave off that discomfort little by little, until you are able to move into the area once again pain free.

The biggest problem with my back I am finding is that I don't always feel specific pain or discomfort when working my therapy movements.  It usually isn't until later that day or the following day when I realize that I over did things.  So now I must become much more intuitive about my therapy work.  I think that I have now gotten the majority of the benefit from actually going to my therapy sessions and that the remainder of my recovery is now in my hands and the constant day to day rehab and recovery work that I do each morning.  (Although I do enjoy the stim and massages.)

So that's it.  We shall continue to plug away!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Frustratingly Slow

Good morning!  Here we are at just about the end of September.  This month went fast.  It's been a solid month of nothing but physical therapy for me and I'm still in some discomfort and pain.  I can now visually see the difference in my pelvis, the pain has diminished and at times even disappears, but I am nowhere out of the woods yet.

So each morning I continue to wake up early and work through my 'therapy routine'.  Work on the foam rollers has improved greatly.  Today I even threw in a set of pushups

I can understand how people who are sick or injured can suffer from depression.  It is very difficult to stay positive when you are in a constant state of pain and discomfort.  Let alone when you put a lot of time and effort into trying to heal with no immediate or noticeable results.  I had a followup visit with my doctor on Monday and we prescribed another 4-6 weeks of therapy.  So hopefully this time next month, I'll be writing something different.  If I'm lucky I'll be able to restart my training on Halloween.

On an exciting note, I am expecting a FedEx delivery today containing Scott Sonnon's new Free to Move book with Intuflow & Xtnesion DVDs and mini clubbells!  It was just about a year ago that I first started working with Z-Health R-Phase and it has done me well.  Messing around with Infuflow, given Scott's online freebies, I think it is a good progression for me.  From what I can tell it is more integrative than what I've been exposed to in Z-Health and feels more natural to me given my martial arts background.  Therefore I hope to crack the protective tape from it this weekend and should have some feedback very soon.

In the meantime, stay happy and healthy everyone!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Brain Rule #4

We Don't Pay Attention To Boring Things

Our brains are wired to pay the most attention to the most basic survival conditions:
Will it eat me?  Can I eat it?
Will it mate with me?  Can I mate with it?
Have I seen this before?  (your brain is looking to associate it with a pattern it might be familiar with)

We also pay better attention to things when we first know the big picture.  When teaching a class, you are best to start off explaining what is to come and why.  Then the brain will have an easier time paying attention to and understanding the details.

The brain's attention span is also about 10 minutes long.  At the 10 minute mark your best bet is to segue into another related topic.  It is also a good idea to throw in something humorous to break the monotony of the previous 10 minutes.

Friday, September 19, 2008

A Little Bit of... Nothing

Meaning, a little bit of pain-free existence.  I have had to stop myself a few times over the past few days just to recognize that for a little while I was actually in a state without feeling that constant, throbbing ache in my hip.  It was a pretty nice feeling.

This morning I worked through my core exercises on the foam roller and amazingly, was VERY steady!  It's so great to see things finally coming together.  But no bells yet.  I do have a class to teach tomorrow morning, but I will be demonstrating with the 8kg bell.  I might as well get used to it for now because I don't see myself starting back up (when the time comes) with anything heavier.  Maybe I should paint it something other than pink...

This coming Thursday evening, I might be lugging my bells over to a local gym to introduce the bells to their members.  There's a good chance I'll  be moving my classes into their facility.  We still have a lot to discuss but this might be pretty cool.  

That's it for now.  Stay tuned for Brain Rule #4 coming soon!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Continuing Progress

I am happy to say that slowly but surely, I am now starting to see progress being made in getting my back back to normal.  I take that back...  Normal for me was not good.  The plan is to get my back healthy and strong and fully functional.

During last night's physical therapy session, I found that my range of motion has increased without pain.  Yippee!!

Performing a standing back extension has gotten much easier.  My therapist noted that while performing these it was apparent that most of the movement was being handled by a single vertebrae, making it hinge-like.  The tightness in the rest of my back could very well be limiting the full number of vertebrae that should be recruited to extend my back.  In plain English, more ROUND, less HINGE.

I have one more session tomorrow evening and this coming Monday revisit my MD for a follow-up evaluation.  I'm sure we will continue with the physical therapy for just a bit longer.  I still can't swing the bells!  

In the meantime, I continue to work all of the therapy exercises and stretches.  It's taken a month to get to this point.  Amazing how there seemed to be no improvement for the longest time, then all of a sudden, viola!  Glad I was diligent with my practice.

In an exciting note, I ordered Scott Sonnon's Official Kettlebell Foundation DVD set this morning.  Nice!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Noticeable Improvement

Wow, it's been a long 4 weeks since I started physical therapy and only today can I say that I notice some improvement to my condition.

Wednesday night's therapy session left me feeling a bit beaten up yesterday. The feeling in my back was one almost of bruising mixed with the sharper pain I've been feeling. I knew something was different but couldn't tell if that was a good thing or not.

I decided to skip the Aleve last night and woke up this morning feeling a bit better than I have been. Even noticed a bit less discomfort while performing my pelvic circles which was a real confidence boost. I then added a new exercise - the lumbar side bend - which I was introduced to Wed night, which now left me a bit uncomfortable, but that's ok as long as I see that it is helping (I'll know more tomorrow).

So this could be the sign of things starting to move into the right direction. I'm going to keep my fingers crossed!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Harry Potter Spell of the Day???

"Quadratus Lumborum!!"

OK, it's not really a Harry Potter spell. It's actually one of our "deep flank" muscles that run along our spine, from our iliac crest to our 12th rib.

And after much experimenting and stretching last night in physical therapy, we had a "Viola!" moment as we worked with this muscle as it runs along my right side.

While lying, one can stretch this muscle by turning the legs and hips to one side while twisting the trunk and arms in the opposite direction. We attempted this stretch and very quickly I went into "Ouch" mode. With only a small movement, I immediately felt pain. Easing back a bit, to a point that did not hurt, my therapist had me hold the position while she manually applied pressure to the top of my right hip, pushing it down and away from my rib cage. With nice steady pressure, I could feel my range of motion opening up. Staying relaxed, I allowed myself to slip further into the stretch - - - no pain. I worked hard to stay relaxed, but at the first instant I wanted to laugh. Wow, could this be working!?!?!?! We continued. I imagined my therapist prying open an oyster, hoping to find a pearl inside. Pry open that hip. I continued to ease deeper and deeper into the stretch, far beyond my earlier, first attempt. It was amazing.

Following the stretch, we performed another leg-length measurement and wouldn't you know it, my leg grew! So it's looking like this quadratus lumborum muscle is in a deep spasm which might be pulling my right hip up, higher than my left, which in turn has caused me to strain the ligaments in my back. I think. Regardless, last night was the first time I received a glimmer of hope that maybe this thing would get figured out and relief would be attainable.

I definitely feel worked over this morning so I will be taking it easy this morning. Probably sneak off on my lunch hour to practice a little Intu Flow.

For some more information on the quadratus lumborum muscle check out this webpage, http://www.downeastschoolofmassage.net/forum/king03.htm. I also found a cool video that visually shows what the muscle looks like, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2cjfepXJaXk.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Brain Rule #3

Every brain is wired differently.

Each individual's brain is wired specifically as a result of one's experiences and education. Brains are like snowflakes, no two are alike. Even identical twins, sitting together watching a movie will rewire their brains differently as a result of the movie. Each is sitting at a slightly different angle from the movie. One may have read a news article about one of the actors in the movie and may be referring to it while watching. Every nuance creates its own individual customization to the brain. Keep this in mind the next time you are demonstrating kettlebell techniques to a large class.

There are specific neurons in your brain that fire each and every time, and only, when you see a kettlebell. That's how specific our brains develop. People's brains develop at different rates. Our age-based, grade-level instruction in schools completely ignore this fact.

Therefore, when you are teaching, remember that our words or demonstration will register differently for different people. It is impossible to believe that they will all "get it" at the same time and in the same way. Be patient and do your best to figure out how each of these peoples' brains are working.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Slow to No Progress

Things are moving slow around here. It's been about 3 weeks now that I've laid off the bells and have been performing my physical therapy exercises. I still have pain in my hip which only seems to feel better when I pop Aleve.

What has become apparent is the large strength imbalance between my right and left hip. According to my therapist, now that it's obvious we can focus on strengthening the imbalance and that should help alleviate the pain. Let's see how another week at this goes, shall we?

It now also appears quite obvious that I carry my right hip higher than my left. Is it a compensation for the weaker left? Is it from a prior injury? Is one leg just a bit longer than the left??? We haven't answered any of this yet. Hopefully something will kick in soon because I'm getting frustrated.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Foam Roller & Beginner Intuflow

Working through my morning ritual of therapy exercises, I was able to introduce a few new things into the series, including use of my foam roller and the Beginner Intuflow series that Scott Sonnon has so kindly made available for free as of late.

Contained within the series of exercises that my physical therapist has prescribed for me are two movements that are meant to improve trunk stability. They work some of the hip muscles as well as the transverse abdominis.

The first is the Bent Leg Lift, where you lie on your back with both legs bent and feet flat on the floor. While keeping your core firm, you proceed to alternate lifting one foot at a time. While one foot is raised, press the opposite foot into the ground (just like you would do with your hands during Renegade Rows).

The second exercise is the Straight Leg Raise. Again while lying flat on the floor, bend one leg and plant its foot flat on the floor. The opposite leg is held out straight and raised to the point where your two knees are next two one another (not an overly large movement) and then return it down.

Today I progressed both of these 'easy' exercises to a more difficult version using my foam roller. Each movement is performed exactly the same except that instead of lying flat on the floor, I now place my foam roller vertically under me so that it runs parallel to my spine. Therefore my spine is actually supported and rests on the length of the roller. Well, let me tell you how something so simple can make an easy exercise very difficult! Give it a try. Perform 30 repetitions on each leg. Oh, and try not to fall over...

Once I completed all of my rehab exercises, I then for the first time worked through Scott Sonnon's Beginner Intuflow series which he has been posting on the web as of late. I worked through the Thorax, Pelvic Lumbar, Spine, Hips, Knees and 4 Corner Balance Drill (4CBD).

This was a good workout for me today. I wasn't surprised to find during the 4CBD my left hip didn't nearly have the same range of motion of my right hip. It's amazing how things become clear once you become aware of what to look for.

On a somewhat related thought... these days I am performing my exercises on the rug in my living room. Attached to my living room is my dining room and on the wall in the dining room hands a clock. The past few mornings I would hold my stretches for 30 seconds, keeping count with the ticking of the clock. This morning as I first lay on the floor, no ticking. I could hear the whirr of the laptop fan. I could hear the coffee pot going. Maybe the batteries in the clock are dead? OK, I'll have to count these out at my own pace. As I settle in and start to relax into my stretch, low and behold, there's the ticking. So loud and clear! Where was it hiding?? Even though I thought I was listening for it, it wasn't there. Amazing how your mind can tune things out, even if you 'think' you're alert. Now I just hope I can get that ticking out of my head!! =)

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Forensic Physical Therapy

Had my third physical therapy session last night. We are still trying to figure out the root cause of my pain. I think we are getting close.

It is becoming more obvious that there's something going on in my pelvis. And I'm not talking about Elvis the Pelvis. But the fact that my body seems to be acting as if my right leg were longer than my left. Although we did measure both of my legs and that is not the case.

For years when I used to work out at the gym, a favorite exercise of mine was stiff-legged deadlifts. I loved these because I was strong in this movement and also from years of practicing martial arts I had great hamstring flexibility and I could lock my knees and and go through a really great range of motion. It would tear up my hamstrings instantly!

But when I'd perform these, if I were in front of a mirror I would notice that it appeared that my right hip was higher than my left. I thought it looked odd, but since it never bothered me or caused me pain or affected my performance, I just assumed it was normal for me and kept going.

I've heard some say that kettlebells will find your weaknesses. Well, it has found one of mine. We still need to determine why my body acts this way and try to correct it.

What's funny is that after this 'discovery' last night, it now seems obvious that racking a kettlebell on my left illiac crest feels much farther away then racking on the right. I'm therefore twisting and compensating for this on my left side, thereby putting strain on my lumbar ligaments. Funny how I never picked up on this when I felt strong.

So the journey of education and discovery continues. I am going to slowly try to introduce some other movements back into the scheme of things making sure that I don't aggravate those ligaments more than they already are. Baby steps.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Brain Rule #2

The Human Brain Evolved, Too.

Brain Rules, which I am now reading, by John Medina, is cleverly written, entertaining and at the same time very informative. I guess he took his own advise in terms of how we learn and understand while writing this book.

The second brain rule describes how our brains evolved, in a unstable, outdoor environment. It was our brains that allowed us to survive the harsh, changing climate of the day, not our bodies. Our brains' greatest strength was its ability to understand other humans and ability to try to understand what they were thinking and feeling. This allowed us to come together and act collectively in our own self-interests as well as the groups.

Along these same lines, when it comes to learning, a person needs to feel safe and secure as well as understood. Therefore a good teacher will try to understand his or her student's desires and motivations and use those as a means of conveying information to promote learning in a secure, emotionally stable and enjoyable environment.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Goodbye Summer, Hello Fall

With only hours left to go on this beautiful Labor Day, we unofficially say goodbye to the summer and hello to the Fall. School is back in session this week and Anthony, my two year old, will be starting a daytime program consisting of 2-1/2 hours, 3 days per week - they grow up so fast!! =)

Anyway, it's been a busy, busy weekend here at the Brewer Estate.

On Saturday morning I taught my group class which lasted just over an hour. I used the 12kg to demonstrate. The rest of the afternoon was spent standing over saw horses painting 5 interior door slabs.

Sunday consisted of wrestling with one of those doors as I attempted to hang it in an existing door frame. There was a lot of 'up on the hinges, down off the hinges' as I tried my best to get the dang thing squared. After much maneuvering, 'we' decided that the old hinges were just too old and dirty looking so we would postpone hanging that door until new hinges were purchased. I also then went and finished painting the backs of the last two doors. And then it was off to visit friends and eat! =)

Today, Monday, started off in the park once more. I taught 2 back-to-back private classes. Again used the 12kg for demonstration purposes. After getting home, it was off to the Home Depot for those new hinges! Got home new hinges on, a little more chiseling and up it went!! =) Then is was onto a ladder to replace a ceiling light fixture in another room. And finally the hanging of a child's swinging hammock bar in a doorway (this will used as part of Anthony's physical/occupational therapy).

I am now happy to say I will be eating dinner shortly and enjoying a glass of wine. The rest of the evening will consist of some rest, relaxation and a few of my back rehab exercises and stretches.

It was a nice and very productive weekend. Now just wish me luck hanging the remaining 4 doors....