Tag Archives: Stretching

Stretching and strength

Some of you might remember that I had a terrible time late last year with my sacroiliac joint (the joint where the lower back meets the hips). Well, it’s playing up again. It’s threatened a few times over the past twelve months but somehow I’ve managed to stave it off. But not this time.

My sacroiliac joint ligaments are loose. I’ve had all sorts of tests and seen specialists. The results are always the same: a loose sacroiliac joint. The bad news is that it can’t be fixed. The good news is that I can’t make it any worse. I like the good news part.

I aggravated the joint last week when I stepped off a log awkwardly and jarred my back. I have been to the physio and that helped a bit but I know from experience that only two things will make the pain go away: time and core strength.

So today, instead of going out riding, I have spent an hour doing crunches, plank, leg raises, push ups, squats, lunges, stretches and have rolled my calves. It’s been a few months since I did any strength exercises so I’m sure my performance will improve too.

Total: 1 hour strength and flexibility.

Becoming a Scout Leader

Two months ago, I embarked on a new element of my outdoor adventure journey. I entered a world that was totally foreign to me. A world I had often heard about but which had remained a mystery. I decided to see whether I would like to be a Scout Leader.

It started quite innocently. I was searching the internet to see whether there was any meaningful, fun and ongoing volunteer work available in my community. It’s not that I don’t have enough on my plate, what with work, uni, my monthly Justice of the Peace obligations and endurance racing. But I just felt called to look for something.

I didn’t know what I was looking for until I stumbled across my local Scout Group’s website. There it was in black and white: “Assistant Leaders needed for immediate start. No experience. Self-paced training.” It didn’t take me long to fire off an email. And, seemingly instantly, I received a response from the Group Leader inviting me to come meet with herself and the leader of the Scout section.

I did some research. I watched YouTube clips, and read a range of websites and blogs. From what I found, Scouting looked like a lot of fun, not just for Youth Members but also for Leaders.

I started with minimal commitment. I just attended a couple of Scout meetings and a Group Council to see whether the format appealed to me. The Scout meetings were great fun. Tents were pitched, canoes were set up on dry land so the Scouts could practice their paddling strokes, plans were made for camps and discussions were held about hikes. Before I knew it, I was choosing a Scout name and signing an application for membership.

Last week, my application for membership was approved and I was given my Scout membership number. I’ve ordered my uniform and started the eLearning component of my leader training. On Saturday, I’m going to my first Scout camp. I won’t be staying overnight because I have a race on Sunday. But I’m looking forward to taking this next step into what was previously a mysterious world: Scouts. And I’m quite proud of my personal decision to share my outdoor skills and experiences with tomorrow’s outdoors men and women.

(I didn’t train today. I decided to do some stretching and get back into the exercise tomorrow. I didn’t want to risk returning to training too quickly after the weekend because I am very aware of how I pushed things last year and ended up injured.)

A morning of stretching

Calf stretch by Andrew Gills
Calf stretch, a photo by Andrew Gills on Flickr.

I have a confession to make: I have been neglecting my stretching sessions. It’s not that I haven’t been stretching, because I have been lunging, rotating my ankles and holding my heel to my buttocks at every available opportunity (including when I’m speaking with people). But I haven’t set aside time for a decent stretching session in over a week.

My right leg is feeling tight today, particularly the outside of my shin and ankle. So this morning, instead of cycling to work, I spent an hour stretching, rolling and triggering my legs and glutes, particularly the right one.

I am enjoying my stretching and my goal for 2013 is to be able to touch my toes (nope, I honestly can’t touch my toes). I stretch more now than ever before (I never used to stretch at all) but hopefully I can find more time to do proper stretching sessions or a way to stretch while I study.

Stretching and ankle strengthening

Ankle strength exercise by Andrew Gills
Ankle strength exercise, a photo by Andrew Gills on Flickr.

I’ve not been as consistent with stretching as I would like. I am stretching my calves and circling my ankles 3-4 times a day but I’m not putting time aside specifically for stretching because I have so much on.

This morning I decided to switch my road cycle for a stretching session.

I spent an hour stretching my calves, hamstrings, quadriceps, gluteals and ankles.

I was recently shown an ankle strengthening exercise by Vixx from Kinetic Lifestyle. The first exercise is to pick up a pen or pencil using my feet. Then I hold the pencil between my toes and write my name. The exercise is challenging but I’m sure it will help improve my ankle strength and flexibility.

I did a couple of pilates exercises too because my sacroiliac joint has been playing up a little bit this week (I think it’s stress related).

I’m trying to find a balance between my desire to just go out hard and do lots of miles, my body’s need to work up to hard training after the four months off last year, and my other commitments (university and TAFE studies, work, and family). It’s just all about patience right now but at least I’m not injured and am feeling fit.

Total: 1 hour stretching and pilates

Pilates and stretching

My partner finished late shifts last night so after burning the candle at both ends for a week, I treated myself to a bit of a lie in this morning and a day off training. All I’m doing today are my pilates and stretching exercise. What bliss. Well, pilates is tough for me but still, I can do it in the relative cool of my house in front of the television with my partner for company.

I’m looking forward to trail running tomorrow night.

First session of the new year

Sun salutations

Sun salutations

Today is the first day of my journey to running a 100 miler. At this stage, that’s my ultimate running goal. The distance is calling me the way The Landy is called by Everest. I’ve spent the full southern hemisphere spring in rehabilitation mode but since this morning my physio and I have switched to ‘moving forward’ mode.

I have to give Paul Trevethan at Body Leadership Australia a big shout out because he’s been wonderful. From the moment I walked into his clinic he listened to my needs, fears and frustrations. He’s responded to my text messages asking for help and he’s squeezed me in when I’ve urgently needed his healing hands. He’s never told me I couldn’t do anything but has been honest about the areas of my body I need to look after (and he’s never said “I told you so” when I failed to listen).

Tonight I did my stretching routine for the first time since October. I also did two rounds through the Hatha Yoga Sun Salutations. I only did them gently and tentatively but it’s a start. I start yoga classes on Tuesday 18 December and have already told my instructor about my SIJ so she’s going to help me avoid exercises that might flare it up.

I have also done three sets of five exercises each of my pilates exercises: setting my stomach, clams, knee raises, rocking my knees side-to-side and hip raises. My core strength is terrible. But I am practicing these basic moves until I start pilates classes on Monday 17th December with my physio’s wife (also through Body Leadership Australia). The great thing about taking pilates classes with my physio’s wife is that she will know my limitations and core strength needs.

My physio is looking at ordering me a sacroiliac joint brace and has taped me up in the interim. It’s all systems slowly shifting into “go”. I’m being careful not to overdo it and will continue to be guided by both my body and my physio. But it feels good to be making the first step towards my 100 miler goal. A goal that might take a while to reach but one that promises an interesting journey.