Sunday, September 18, 2011

I enjoy long walks

I live about a mile a way from BYU, so I have two long walks a day going to and from school.  I've come to really love those walks, because they give me a chance to mull over whatever is going on in my life.  It's so easy to have every second of the day be new information coming into your mind, but I really need time to process what has already happened to come to any meaningful conclusions.

Sometimes those realizations are big, like what I've accomplished in my life and where I need to be going next.  But other times they are small, like a solution to a simple fitness problem that's been plaguing me.  Recently the problem was how to find a way to stretch my hamstrings.  Since my back started hurting again I haven't been able to bend forward at the waist (apparently that aggravates my bad disk).  My physical therapy is all back extensions rather than contractions, so for the most part this hasn't been a big deal.  But I've also been doing a lot of weight lifting with my legs, and as those muscles are building up my hamstrings are getting wicked tight.  And all of the ways I know to stretch my hamstrings involve some forward bend.

My legs were really sore on Friday, so I tried a couple of stretches with my heels propped up on a chair.  And even though I was only bending my back the tiniest bit, it hurt big-time the next day.  So clearly forward bends are still out of the equation.  So here is where my walks come in; on my way home from school on Saturday (yes, I'm a huge nerd) I remembered the one stretch that I can do!  The way it works is you lie on your back and prop your leg up vertically against a wall, like this:

You're back stays totally straight but you still stretch those hammies!  I've never actually done it before, but I must have seen it in a magazine or on a blog, and it was buried deep in my subconscious-it just took some time to dig it out.  This is great news, because if I kept lifting the way I've been doing without stretching, I would start to develop muscle imbalances which can lead to injuries of their own.  I think I have enough injuries for now, so I'm gonna pass on that.

Six months ago I was really into yoga, and I was doing mad forward bends.  The fact that I can't do even the slightest like stretch now really bummed me out at first, because it shows how far I've regressed.  But the more I thought about it, it was amazing that I was doing as much as I was in the spring, given the surgery the previous year.  I was doing serious yoga, lifting, and running, which is everything that I want to be doing.  For all intents and purposes, I was healed.  That's good news, because it means I'm not broken forever.  I came back from it once, and I can do it again if I just follow my physical therapy, learn from my mistakes, and be patient.

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