Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween

It's been a few days since my last post.  Not much happening these days.  I'm trying to continue moving forward although at times it seems like I've moved backward.

Wednesday morning was only Intu-Flow Beginner Program.  Saw chiro Wed afternoon.  Wed evening had some soreness in my back, probably from the adjustment.

Yesterday woke up with back still sore, so I opted to run through a few of the Kettlebell Foundation Compensatory Movements.  

Woke up this morning, back was still a bit sore, but said screw it, I'm going to work through my bodyweight routine regardless.  So this is what this morning looked like...

Pushup:  15,  15,  15
Ab Wheel Rollout:  6,  6,  6
Dip:  6,  6,  6
Pullup:  5,  5,  5
Bodyweight Squat:  10,  10,  10

(These were done as three circuits.  And yes, today I added in the Squats.  Hopefully it won't come back to bite me.)

Cooldown with Intu-Flow Beginner routine.

Today, some of us will be dressing up for the office.  Since I still haven't seen The Dark Knight, I won't be dressing up like the Joker as they did in The Office.  I wasn't inspired by anything this year.  But I do have a last minute consolation costume.  More to come later.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Some Bells

Woke up during the night, about 2:00am, with a cough that wouldn't quit.  The only option for me at the time was Nyquil.  Knowing that I intended to wake up at 5:00, I took a 1 teaspoon dose.  An adult dose is actually 3 tablespoons.  Lucky for me, after a short time, it quelled my cough and still allowed my to jump out of bed at 5:20.

Finally got back to the bells today.  Not a lot, but something.

Swing:  8kg - 10/10

Windmill:  8kg - 5/5

Jerk:  2x8kg - 4 min @ 6 rpm - 24 total

That was it.  Cooled down with Kettlebell Foundation Compensatory Movements (about 12 min).  Now we wait to see how I feel tomorrow morning...

Monday, October 27, 2008

Day by Day

The best laid plans of mice and men, often go awry.  That's sort of how I'm feeling right now.  Although I would have liked to have jumped right into the 4x7 program, I am taking it a bit slower than planned.  But that's ok, because I am still moving forward and have not re-injured and aggravated the back in any way.

I had a good soreness in my body following my bodyweight day on Friday.  But because I was sore I didn't want to hit the bells just yet, as I wanted to give myself enough time to properly recuperate first.  The last thing I want to do is tear myself down at this point.  So Saturday was strictly an IntuFlow day.

Yesterday started out as a busy day and by mid afternoon I had a bit of time to sit down with the Kettlebell Foundation Compensatory Movement DVD and was able to finish reviewing and practicing all of the movements.  So for the time being, I should be able to work through the entire Compensatory program without having to refer back to the DVD.  I also video taped myself while performing a few of the movements just so I could get some visual feedback on my form versus Scott.  And I must say I was rather pleased.  

This morning I had a really difficult time getting out of bed, so I blew it for the bells and ran through IntuFlow Beginner program.  But so far, the back is still on the mend and hasn't gotten any worse.  Today is a chiro appointment and tomorrow morning I must get my butt out of bed to swing the bells.  Until then, swing 'em high!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Bodyweight Day

Today's session looked like this...

A1) Pushup:  15, 15, 15
A2) Ab Wheel Rollout:  5, 5, 5
A3) Dip:  5, 5, 5
A4) Pullup:  5, 5, 5

These were performed in a circuit, each exercise once through for three circuits.
Cooldown consisted of IntuFlow Beginner and a few of the Kettlebell Foundation Compensatory Movements.

So if you've been following along, I added the third circuit today to this routine.  As always now I watch and wait to see how my back handles it.  Hopefully all continues well and tomorrow will be the bells.

Friday, October 24, 2008

First Frost

Leaving the house this morning, to head into the office, I was forced to backtrack and hunt out the ice scraper for my car windshield. This was the first morning that required some elbow grease to clean off the windshield . The thermostat read 31 degrees (F) and there was a nice, thin layer of ice hugging each of my windows.

Luckily, I can say that I am feeling better today than yesterday. A bit of Claritin and a heavy dose of the Neti pot seems to have had a positive effect on this cold that started to hit me Wed evening. Nonetheless, I found it difficult to get out of bed this morning. Sleeping in would have been sooooooo nice.

But I made today my low intensity day. Very low. Warmed up with Intu-Flow Beginner program. I then went through and practiced the first 13 movements (of 22 in total) of Scott Sonnon's Kettlebell Foundation Compensatory Movements.

I am really digging these! They are something of a prelude to his Prasara Yoga program and for someone who practices kettlebells but does not have a lot of yoga experience, these movements will set you on the path. Scott does a fantastic job explaining and demonstrating each movement. Some are easier performed than others, but all feel good to the body. I was amazed at how far I was able to move into the Forward Fold posture given the fact that I haven't been stretching regularly. But by following Scott's directions I got into it deep! And felt great from it.

Tomorrow I have my bodyweight work lined up. Swing 'em high y'all!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Another No Intensity Day

Gosh darn it! My little guy got me sick! This time it took 3 days for the germs to break through my defenses. So I'm kinda achy and congested and wish I could stay in bed all day. But no, unfortunately there's this thing called work, that ceases to pause for any one of us.

So rather than call it a total wash, I worked through Intu-Flow Beginner program. Hopefully I'll be feeling better tomorrow morning and can pick up where I left off.

(Of course, last night was my last physical therapy session (for the time being) and my back is a bit more sore than usual. I also think I have a bit of DOS from my kettlebell work on Tuesday morning. Hey, I'll take it!)

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

No Intensity Day

This morning I worked alongside Scott Sonnon and made my way through the Intermediate program of Intu-Flow.  Well, Scott was on the DVD, but it was just like having him in the room with me.

The Intermediate program is going to require some work to get comfortable with.  Wrists and knees will require more practice.  I am very glad that the arm work has not changed!  I see how this is starting to progress and I like.

As for the state of my back.  Woke up this morning feeling no new aches or pains!  Awesome.  Don't get me wrong, there's still some pain back there, but my working back into a physical routine does not seem to be making it worse.  Tonight is my last physical therapy session.  Lunchtime chiropractor appointment is scheduled as well.  Tomorrow is "low intensity" day so I will be working through some of the Kettlebell Foundation Compensatory movements.  Swing 'em high y'all!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Nice and Easy

There's nothing like the tender soreness that arises late in the day following a good workout.

Before going to bed last night, I could feel the effects of the morning's workout in my shoulders and abs.  And a good sign that my back felt fine.  Woke up this morning a little stiff all over.  I could feel that my lower back was a bit tight, but this was in the muscles.  It wasn't the usual ache of the ligaments that I have been feeling.

So today I had the bells on schedule.  With things feeling good, this is what it looked like...

Swing:  8kg - 10R/10L

Windmill:  8kg - 10R/10L

Snatch:  8kg - 4 minutes - 24L/24R

Seated Press:  2x8kg - 4 minutes - 40

IntuFlow as a cooldown

That's it.  Now we wait until tomorrow morning to see how things are holding up.  Tomorrow is now my scheduled "no intensity" day, therefore only IntuFlow is on the card.

Monday, October 20, 2008

And... Action!

Howz Training, Take 2.

OK, so this week starts the new program.  We'll be starting off easy and we'll be starting off light.  We still have back pain, but it's bearable.  Wednesday night is the last session of physical therapy (unless we decide going back will provide any more relief).  We'll continue to see the chiropractor in the meantime.  We are now incorporating the heal lift gradually into the left shoe.  We will be mixing up some body weight exercises with kettlebell exercises along with anything else we feel like along the way.  We will also be experimenting with the 4x7 program (to the best of our ability, early on that might be difficult, but that's the goal).  For the low intensity day, we will be practicing the Compensatory Movements from Scott Sonnon's Kettlebell FoundationDVD set.  Eventually moving into Prasara yoga "A" flows.  Low intensity days will consist of IntuFlow.

Today's moderate intensity day looked like this...

IntuFlow Beginner

A1) Pushup:  15, 15
A2) Ab Wheel Rollout:  5, 5
A3) Dip:  5, 5
A4) Pullup:  5, 5

These were performed in a circuit.

I received Scott Sonnon's Kettlebell Foundation DVD in the mail on Saturday.  There are 3 DVDs included in the set - Kettlebell Movements, Joint Mobility Warmup, and Compensatory Cooldown.  I briefly scanned all three disks.  There is a lot of material included in these DVDs.  I was able to view the entire Compensatory DVD.  There are 22 different movements taught, the majority appear to be yoga based and some appear to be a prelude to the more advanced Prasara poses.  From what I have seen so far, I am very pleased with this product.  It's going to take a bit of time to digest it all, but that's where the fun is.  Baby steps for me with everything these days.

Tomorrow I play with the bells.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Cross Training

I am definitely seeing some improvement to my back with the introduction of my new chiropractor.  My pain-free range of motion has already increased and I am not waking up with the ache in my back.

I had a chiro adjustment yesterday afternoon and a physical therapy session in the evening.  I brought my kettlebells into the PT session so my therapist could view and critique my form as I practiced a few swings and cleans.

Due to the mild scoliosis of my spine (did I mention that earlier?  I also have a very mild form of spinal bifida) it is going to be a while before I can cleanly rack the bell on my left hip.  This is now causing a lot of spinal twist (what got me here in the first place) and until I get myself fully aligned, stretched and strengthened the position will probably continue to aggravate my back.  

My left shoulder which was my recent to separate (a few years back) appears to still be weaker than my right and it appears I compensate for it during my swings by turning the shoulder inward on my downswing.  

So specific recommendations by my physical therapist... integrate some cross training into my workout schedule.  Slowly integrate the bells back in.  Yoga is ok as long as I don't move into any postures that cause pain.  And closely monitor the effects of each of these like I have been doing so far.

This morning's session... I performed 10 minutes on the elliptical machine this morning to start moving my muscles a bit differently.  This was followed by 5 pullups, 5 dips, 5 hanging leg raises and 10 pushups with a forward arm extension at the end of each rep.  Cool down with some stretches.

My thoughts... Maybe incorporate the elliptical trainer back into my routine a bit.  At most 20 minutes of intervals, maybe once or twice a week.  For the bells, focus solely on double jerks, double long cycle, snatches and swings (double rack position will keep me from torquing my spine at this point).  Incorporate some of the body weight movements such as the pushups and pullups, etc.  Re-start working on some Prasara Yoga.  And lastly, something I was going to hold off on, but may introduce sooner, Scott Sonnon's Xtension program using the 5lb clubbells.

So I have a lot to think about in terms of how to structure something that includes all of these activities while at the same time rolling things in slowly so that I can monitor their effects on my back.  At the same time, I need to make sure I have enough downtime to recuperate and recover from my workouts.  This is not how I would have imagined things a few months back, but it is what it is today.  And except for the current back pain, it isn't all that bad.  Not at all!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

A Smidgen of Improvement

The last two nights of sleep have given me hope that maybe things are moving forward again (or perhaps backward to the point before pain, life really is a circle you know) as I woke up several times during the night to find myself on my stomach but without any aching in my back. (Maybe that first chiro visit helped??)

I warmed up this morning with IntuFlow Beginner. As soon as I hit the Hips portion I start to become aware of the pain in my back. I try not to go past a "3" on a pain scale of 1 to 10. But even so, by the end of the program I've got some unwelcome warmth pulsing in my back.

Without worrying about numbers of reps, but trying to make sure my form was perfect here is what today's workout looked like...

Swing: 8kg - 10R/10L

1-Arm Clean: 8kg - 2 min Left/2 min Right

Jerk: 2x8kg - 2 min

My back definitely felt tight and I could now sense the tremendous difference between racking the bell on my left side versus my right. Left side feels like I'm waaaaay reaching for my hip, while my right rack is nice, comfortable and close. Amazing how I never noticed this before.

Now the big test will be to see how I feel in the morning. Keep swing y'all!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Monday Training & 1st Chiro Treatment

Woke up at 5:20am this morning still with the ache in my lower back, but intent on doing something close to "real" training.

Warmed up with Intu-Flow Beginner program.

Proceeded to perform the following with the bells...

Seated Press: 2x8kg - 4 minutes (36 reps)

Swing: 8kg - 20R/20L

Cooled down with some of my therapy-specific stretches and other core/low back exercises.

At noon, I made my first visit to the new chiropractor for my first treatment. Spent 45 min in her office and was the recipient of some trigger point massage, adjustments, cracks, pops, stretches and electrical stimulation. When all was said and done, I felt woozy, dizzy, sleepy and totally out of it. After returning to the office, I felt beat up. I'm still recovering as I write this.

I have a feeling I'll be going to sleep early tonight and am interested to see how I'll feel in the morning. Next visit is scheduled for Wed at noon.

Saturday, October 11, 2008


I finally decided to get myself to see a chiropractor as it has become more and more apparent that the back and hip issues I am having are very much a result of the condition of my spine.

So yesterday afternoon I met with a chiropractor who performed an initial exam on my back and identified a few areas that are in need of improvement. At least two spots in the cervical spine, one or two in the thoracic spine and at least one in the lumbar spine. Coupled with those and possibly a result of them are a few areas of spasm in the back which have been the same areas we have been working on releasing in physical therapy to date.

Before we start treatment, she also sent me to have x-rays taken of my pelvis. I left her office, walked into the radiology office and within 20 minutes, was walking out with x-rays in hand. Once I got home I held them up to the light to see if my untrained eye could spot anything that looked out of the ordinary.

Well, both my wife and I looked a bit confused as I was forced to tilt the x-ray in order for my pelvis to look level. "That can't be good", was my first reaction.

Wow, not only is it tremendously obvious that my pelvis is tilted in a major way, but you can also see how the lumbar spine then curves off to meet the pelvis. "That should probably be straight", I thought.

The second x-ray was from the side, and although I am nowhere near being an expert, there's a LOT of curvature in that lumbar spine, a LOT.

So I have to be optimistic for the time being that this route will be helpful in getting me back to full strength and health. I'll be having my first treatment on Monday at noon (on my lunch hour) and we will be viewing and discussing these x-rays together. I hope I'm not already too far gone...

Friday, October 10, 2008

Frustrations Continue

Ugh.  It now seems that I'm caught in this endless loop of "no pain-pain".  As my back starts to feel better, I find myself sleeping more on my stomach which leads me to be in pain again.  Only when I am in pain, am I able to sleep on my side consistently.  Once I start feeling better, rolling onto my stomach doesn't wake me immediately, until I wake up aching.

I have decided to see a DC, doctor of chiropractic.  It is obvious to me that I need some specific spine work.  The little bit of spine mobilization that we did on Monday evening in therapy, has been something of an awakening for my back.  All of a sudden I am aware of the movement of that portion of my spine.  It's actually kind of weird since I am not used to feeling it mobile like that.  Don't get me wrong, I like it!  Just little things, for example if I reach for something in front of me but slightly off to the side, wow, I can feel my spine moving!  Then I wonder if that's how most people feel.

Anyway, this morning was all therapy-specific exercises and Intu-Flow Beginner.  I found a DC's office right near work, so I'm hoping to land a quick appointment and get myself in there soon.  Only about 3 physical therapy sessions left before I would have to return to my MD for a continuation of that treatment.  What to do?

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Not a "Great" Morning

Back was a bit sore this morning.  Not sure of the exact cause.  I performed the light Snatches yesterday morning but did not feel any discomfort at all during the day or into the evening.  I did not sleep very well.  There was a lot of tossing and turning.  And I lost my body pillow more than once and awoke to find myself sleeping on my stomach.  Therefore, I'll have to rule this as an unknown.  

I did wake up to practice Intu-Flow Beginner along with a few therapy-specific exercises and stretches.  I also performed 5 pullups, 5 dips and 5 ab wheel rollouts.  If I'm still sore tomorrow morning, then it will be an all-therapy-specific morning.  That's it for now!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The Scientific Method

When performing an experiment one needs to keep all variables constant except one in order to fully understand the effect that single variable has on the outcome.  If you change more than one variable at a time, it becomes much more difficult to determine the cause to your effect.

And that is why this morning I performed the same set of Swings that I did on Saturday but substituted Snatches in place of the Jerks that were also performed on Saturday.

Swing:  8kg - 10/10

Snatch:  8kg - 2 minutes (12L/12R)

And because I am trying to be scientific about this (and not overdo it at the same time) that is all I did today.  

There is a little voice in my head telling me, "throw in a set of ab wheels too", "how about a few dips", "come on maybe just one set of pullups"... but no I will be strong and not give in (just yet).  
My back was pretty stiff this morning, as we did a lot of spinal mobilization work last night in therapy.  Amazingly, we started working the area near my T5 vertebrae which has been very tight and it immediately increased my pain-free twisting range of motion.  Now you always hear how things are connected, and conceptually one can understand that, but to actually feel it is simply amazing.   Here we are working on an area in my upper back and it opens open the motion in my hip.  Very cool indeed!!

So this morning, being tight from all this work, I warmed up with Intu-Flow Beginner program and then moved on to my kettlebell "experiment".  If all goes well, meaning I feel no worse for wear tomorrow, then I think I just might throw in one set of ab wheels.  It is so good to be able to start moving again.  Even if they are baby steps.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

The Grand Experiment

Yesterday was the day. After 7 weeks of physical therapy, I decided to take the pink bells out for a short ride. (The pink bells are my AKC pro-grade 8kg kettlebells, in case you're wondering.)

I had hoped to keep my current activity variables constant so that I could clearly see what kind of effect the bells had on my back, but fate had other ideas for me. The family ended up going to a local holiday craft fair in the morning which included a lot of picking up, carrying, putting down, picking back up, carrying some more, etc, etc, etc of my little guy who is now pretty close to the equivalent of a 12kg (blue) bell.

With that in the morning, we got home early afternoon which then gave me the opportunity to perform the following:

Swing: 8kg - 10/10

Jerk: 2x8kg - 3 min (18 reps or 6 rpm)

I performed the double jerks today intentionally so that I would be forced to keep my back in neutral without any twisting. I also did not want to overdo any swings so kept those brief.

I then finished off with Intu-Flow Beginner Routine.

I am VERY happy to say that waking up this morning, I was no worse for wear! Don't get me wrong, I still have the ache in my back, but nothing acute and not any worse than the previous day. Good news!!!

Today was filled with my therapy-specific exercises and another round of Intu-Flow Beginner.

My plan for the next few days...

Tomorrow morning: Therapy-specific exercises and Intu-Flow Beginner - this will allow me to go to therapy that evening and wake up Tuesday (hopefully) feeling what I'll call neutral (or better)

Tuesday morning: Swing and (dare I say) Snatch with the 8kg - very light and easy - this will let me then wake up on Wednesday morning and objectively sense the effect of the Snatches

Wednesday morning: Play it by ear, definitely Intu-Flow, maybe therapy-specific exercises as well depending on how I feel.

That's it for now. My mood is starting to lift! Now I just have to be sure not to overdo it. =)

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Reinforcing Intuition

Had a good session at physical therapy last night. I was expressing my frustration at the rate of healing that I am experiencing, so my therapist and I went through a lot of things to try to see where we can improve and get my recovery back on progress.

One of the first things identified was a need to shorten my range of motion. Given my very good level of flexibility, I may be over-extending in a lot of my movements thereby inadvertently putting strain on my ligaments, particularly at the end of my ranges of motion. (As Sonnon describes in Intu-Flow, "shave off the tightness, move to the tightness, not through it".)

We also added a outside hip wall stretch to my routine which proved to make an immediate impact the range of twisting I could perform without pain. (Ironically, this was almost the identical movement I just began practicing in Intu-Flow! Sonnon includes in in the Lumbar section where you go from side to side, pushing out the hip in the opposite direction from your movement.)

I will also be purchasing a full-body pillow to use when sleeping. The past two nights included the experiment of holding a pillow between my knees. This definitely helped my stay on my side while sleeping. As soon as the pillow slipped and I ended up on my stomach, I was awoken with back discomfort. But the last two mornings were a definite improvement. Amazing the things you take for granted.

My therapist also did not rule out seeing a chiropractor. But suggested I not go that route at the same time as PT. I now have about another 3 weeks left of PT. When that time is up, I'll have to decide the best path forward. In the meantime, it's killing me that I still cannot restart training. I miss the bells!!