Weekend Warrior

Between yesterday and today, I am completely exhausted and wiped out. And sore. It’s been a busy week for me, although my current state means an appointment or outing every day of the week is busy. My energy comes in little bursts and evaporates just as quickly. I can actually accomplish a fair bit in the course of a day, but I require frequent periods of rest. These last two days of the week have pushed my body and endurance further than they’ve been pushed since my injury.

My youngest son moved out yesterday. Whether this is a short-term or long-term thing remains to be seen, but he is excited to be out on his own for a while. Since everyone else was working, I was asked to help him move most of his stuff after I was finished at the gym. So, I worked out at the gym, bench pressing the heaviest weight I’ve pressed in 7 months and worked my arms and upper back. Then I came home to help load a night stand, a fan, and numerous boxes into my car and my son’s. Most of the boxes were a manageable size and light enough being filled with clothing and such. My son was mindful of my back and handled anything too big, heavy or awkward. Still, there was an awful lot of squatting down, safely lifting, carrying, walking down stairs, loading, and walking upstairs again. Of course, the entire process was repeated once we arrived at his apartment. My “work” day wasn’t done yet! Then I had to take him to Superstore to buy some groceries.

My back held up pretty well until we got to the grocery store, and then it began to hurt and ache. The good news, at least in my opinion, is that the back soreness was broader than normal. It wasn’t just in my low back, which leads me to believe that part of the pain was simply from the excessive physical activity and being on my feet for roughly 6 hours straight. Once I was finally finished all of the necessary activity and was able to do some rehab exercises and lie down, the back pain settled down significantly. The low back felt cranky, but I think that was to be expected. The pains in my legs were still present and accounted for, but they were no worse than usual. And I was physically wiped out. I was so exhausted, mentally and physically, that I have barely even given thought to the fact that my baby boy has left the nest.

Today’s busyness revolved around my daughter, as she graduated from college with an Associate Degree in Arts. She needed to be at the college by 9:30 this morning, and we were not able to leave until about 12:45. I was happy to watch my daughter’s convocation, but my body was in pain from all of the sitting. Even standing or walking was bothersome. I could feel tightness in my left foot and calf, as I tried to alleviate the tingling and numbness in my legs. The ceremony was outside. In the sun. It was quite warm. I’m sure the sun and heat only exacerbated the fatigue I feel throughout the day, and I am still too wiped out to dwell on the fact my daughter will be moving out in September to attend Columbia Bible College.

By the time we got home this afternoon, I was desperate to lie down and rest. Due to the length of the ceremonies, we ate a very late lunch and I was feeling bloated and gross, hot and tired, limping and hurting.  I wish I could nap, but I can’t. I reclined in my zero-gravity chair, impersonating a slug. The nice thing about lying down is that it takes away the strain and stress in the back; it’s hard work holding everything upright and together! The not so nice thing about lying down is the leg symptoms: burning, tingling, numbness, electric currents of pain from buttocks to calves. Late this afternoon as I laid down, the extra back aches disappeared, leaving only the low back aches and discomfort from all of the activity and sitting. Once I no longer felt quite so gross, I got onto the floor to go through my rehab exercise routine, and I was pleasantly surprised by how good it felt to do them.

I am still wiped out. I will miss my boy. I am proud of my girl, and I don’t need to think about September yet, even if she’s been thinking of it for a year! Tomorrow, I think, will be a quieter, slower-paced day, and that is just fine by me.

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One Step Closer

It feels like I’ve hardly done anything these past few days, yet somehow I feel exhausted. A good portion of my time has been spent at the hospital, which isn’t exactly the most energizing place to be. I sat far too much Monday and Tuesday, which may be why my back feels slightly achy today, but the achiness is within reasonable limits. I think. My husband was released from the hospital this afternoon, so hopefully my extended sitting periods are over.

One thing that I did do today was my Wednesday morning training session. It was an interesting session, mostly good. Internally, the session was good enough for me to let loose a sigh of pent-up hope. Thanks to the disc/SI joint issues, many aspects of my training have been put on hold, because I couldn’t do certain things. With Provincials less than 5 weeks away, I am acutely aware of how long it has been since I’ve deadlifted or even been able to hinge my hip with any kind of load. We tested a little this morning, and I was able to do kettlebell swings, a set of super light deadlifts, and some barbell rows. The back was achy before I even started at the gym, so I think I’m safe in saying that my back is no worse for having done these things.

warm-up with 3 sets of:

16kg kettlebell swings x 10

5 medicine ball passes

5 medicine ball slams

Tested my ability to deadlift with 65 pounds for roughly 6-8 reps. There was a slight sensation of tightness/pulling similar to what I have felt at the bottom of the squat, but this was minor. Of greater concern to me was whether I’d have any pain when I’d create tension throughout my body before lifting, but there was only slight discomfort. Now normally I would begin deadlifting with significantly more weight than 65 pounds, but I was happy with how it felt to go through the motions once again.

1a. barbell rows

65 lbs x 8?, 85 x 10, 95 x 10, 95 x 10, 95 x 10, 95 x 10

I generally don’t get too excited about rows, but being able to do these put a huge smile on my face.

1b. close grip bench press with feet on bench

45 lbs x 6, 65 x 8, 85 x 6, 105 x 6, 105 x 6

1c. banded monster walks with blue band

2a. seated side laterals, front raises, and clean & presses, 10 lb dumbbells

-2 sets of 10 for the side laterals

-2 sets of front raises with varying reps that I cannot remember

-2 sets of clean & presses, averaging 5 reps, because I could barely press by this point

2b. double kettlebell curls

8kg x 4 + 6kg x 8; 6kg x 7?

2c. kettlebell triceps extension

12kg x 12 x 2 sets

Feeling Progress

Last night I went to a theatre production of Anne of Green Gables with my daughter. The show was amazing, and we were thrilled to be there. A couple of weeks ago I suddenly realized that I might have a painful problem with taking in the performance, namely the pain in my back and my inability to sit. Since the back pain issues began late in January, I have severely restricted the time that I sit to what has been absolutely necessary, like in the car, if we were out to eat somewhere without tall tables, or for the few minutes required to do some computer stuff at work. The longest I could sit with minimal pain was 10-15 minutes. How was I going to survive nearly 3 hours of sitting? But then last week was drastically improved from the previous several weeks, giving me hope that I might make it, at least without tears of pain. I think I managed to sit comfortably until about midway through the first act and then the squirming began. Intermission was an opportunity to stand up and walk before squirming uncomfortably through the final act. While I did manage to stay seated for the performance, I was definitely in a hurry to stand up and walk outside as soon as the show was over. I take last night as a small victory in this battle with my back! Sitting is still something that I should and will keep to the bare minimum as much as I am able, but it feels good to discover all of the things that reveal healing and progress. It makes me feel even more hopeful that this disc issue with resolve itself, that I will be able to compete at Provincials in June, and maybe even that I will be able to do more at Provincials than I have allowed myself to hope for considering the past few months.

1a. squats-low bar, with sleeves

45 lbs x 8, 95 x 6, 115 x 5, 135 x 5

with belt: 155 x 5, 170 x 5, 170 x 5, 175 x 5, 175 x 5

Last Friday’s squats were a hot mess. The bar felt heavy, and my bar path was all over the place. Today’s squats were sweet and steady. The bar felt light. My bar path was consistently over my mid-foot. No forward pitching. Good speed from the first rep to the last. The only thing not ideal with my squats is the depth, but since the back is resistant to hitting proper depth I’m not trying to fight it. Yet. When it is time to compete, I will need to be deeper. Right now, we just need to peak my strength without hurting my back.

1b. bench press-competition grip, last rep paused

feet on bench: 43 lbs x 10, 63 x 6, 85 x 6, 105 x 5

Because of the back, I’ve been doing most of my benching these past couple of months with my feet on the bench. This has allowed me to bench without too much arch in my back in an attempt to prevent too much aggravation to the original SI joint problem and the current disc problem. I am capable of benching without a full arch and leg drive, but it is certainly more difficult. Difficult isn’t necessarily bad; it’s kind of like deadlifting from a deficit. It’s harder but will benefit you down the road. With all this benching without leg drive, Michael has noticed that my lockout has suddenly become a bit slower, as if my triceps are weaker. I’m sure my triceps are somewhat weak, but it also stands to reason that part of the problem is the lack of leg drive and the lack of arch which helps keep my shoulders in position. So, Michael suggested trying to bench with my feet on plates on the floor. The plates would reduce the distance slightly and hopefully allow me to arch without causing more pain in the back.

with feet on 45 lb plates: 105 lbs x 5, 110 x 5, 115 x 5, 115 x 5

The back felt okay. There was some mild discomfort in getting into position, but everything felt fine once the bar was unracked and I went about pressing. There’s really no reason why I shouldn’t be able to arch. Flexion is where my back really feels restricted. The sets done without leg drive weren’t bad, but these sets with leg drive were so much better! The final set was probably the fastest and smoothest of them all.

2a. pause squats-slow, controlled eccentric, with belt, roughly 2-3 second pauses

115 lbs x 5, 135 x 5

Michael wanted these slow and controlled so that I could find where my comfortable depth was. The bar was super light, but we decided to stay at the same weight for the second set. Right before I was ready for the final set, I decided to add more weight to the bar. The first set was like nothing on my back, and I know I am capable of pause squatting more weight. Even 135 pounds was still super easy. Depth was close to parallel, but not where I need it to be.

2b. TRX supine rows-with legs straight + with knees bent

x 5 + 5, x 5 + 5

Supine rows suck, but I do the sucky things when I am told, knowing they are for a purpose and will make me better. Honestly, these still sucked but didn’t feel as bad as I expected. I’m pretty sure that doing these bothered my back the last time I had to do them! Just another little step forward!

The Sitting Dilemma

With the exception of using the toilet and being in the car, I did not sit down once yesterday! I am quite proud of myself for pulling off that feat, and if there was a way that I could use the toilet and drive my car without sitting down then I would be all over that, too! My hip felt the least amount of pain yesterday than it has felt in some time, and even that little bit of pain was only the result of sitting in the car for roughly a half-hour straight. There was also very little numbness in my toe yesterday, which meant that it was much easier to fall asleep last night.

My chiropractor is not wholly convinced that this is a disc issue. It still could be, but it isn’t behaving quite the way a disc problem really would. I guess that is good news, although that begs the question as to what is actually going on. Regardless, we’re going to treat it like a disc issue. My chiropractor used the analogy of an overflowing sink. First, we need to stop the flow of water. That’s my job…stop sitting! Then we clean up the mess, and that’s my chiropractor’s job. I’m not sure who has the easier task.

I made the mistake today of offering to take my daughter out for lunch. It wasn’t until after we had placed our order that I realized that I was sitting, and my hip was hurting within minutes. That is the only time I have sat down today, but it made me realize how much of life revolves around sitting. It’s been relatively easy to avoid sitting since I have been at home on my days off, but something as simple as going out for a meal instantly threw a wrench in my no-sitting challenge. As such, I have also been thinking about the next several days and how that will look as far as avoiding sitting.

Tomorrow, at work, it won’t be too difficult. I’ve never been so glad to NOT have a desk job! However, when you are on your feet all day, it really is nice to enjoy your breaks sitting down. I might have to take my breaks standing up. My Saturday work day will be more challenging, because I will need to spend some time in the office doing paperwork and counting money. Saturday is also my wedding anniversary, which means I expect to be taken out for dinner, which involves more sitting. Sunday is church…and sitting or, more appropriately, squirming on the pew or kneeling to avoid squirming. Monday is another work day with minimal sitting, except for a managers’ meeting. Tuesday is another work day with office time. Then I am back to days off and the ability to remove sitting from my vocabulary, I think.

I guess I cannot avoid sitting completely, at least not every day. Perhaps the best that I can do is to focus on all the ways and times that I can avoid sitting and not stress out over those times when I cannot avoid it.

To Sit or Not to Sit

They say that sitting is the new smoking. I’ve never been a smoker, but I have been known to sit from time to time. You don’t realize just how much you actually do sit until the act of sitting brings pain and discomfort. Even though I have been trying to sit less, I need to avoid sitting as much as I possibly can.

Since I seldom iron clothes, I used my ironing board as a dinner table tonight, so that I could eat standing up. I’m currently laying on the floor as I type this blog post. It’s not the most comfortable or practical way to use my laptop, but it beats sitting and inflicting torture upon myself.

My chiropractor did some interesting things with my back today, so we’ll see how that works for me. He’s not wholly convinced I have a disc issue, because it doesn’t seem to always behave the way a disc problem would. However, he’s going to treat it like a disc issue. It’s all Greek to me. My job is to avoid sitting, so that’s what I am going to try to do.