Tuesday, 14 January 2014

I'm so lazy I almost stop....

When my alarm went off this morning at a little after 6am, I wasn’t keen on moving in the slightest. This wasn’t especially surprising in the sense that I wouldn’t normally spring out of bed with great excitement on any day, but today just seemed especially uninviting: cold, dark and damp. Still, as I like to flog myself and because I was getting up so early to go out on a run, I dragged my sorry arse out of bed and got changed into my running gear. After all, I can’t punish myself much if I stay in bed for a lie-in, can I? As always, getting out of bed was the hardest part, and the run itself was pretty good. With fourteen other likeminded souls, I was treated to an up-close view of a cold, clear night turning into a beautifully clear dawn, finishing just as the sun was rising. I even ran pretty hard, I think, pushing myself on the way home when I imagined that the guy behind me was trying to draft in my slipstream, and put on a spurt of pace to try and shake him off over the last mile. It worked and I came home in first place in a race that nobody but me cared about.

It’s a good way to start the day – I just wouldn’t want to do it every day. In spite of my determination to exercise, I’m actually pretty lazy.

Normally I would cycle to the gym for the run and then cycle from the gym to work, but today was different. Today, I was in the car because my first appointment of the day – after the run – was for an hour’s physiotherapy at the hospital. I’d been referred by the specialist to see if anything could be done to mobilise the stiffening ankle joint that is giving me problems and causing the knock-on injuries when I run that plagued me through 2013. The stiffness and loss of dorsiflexion are probably caused by underlying neurological issues – i.e. my MS – but both are mechanical symptoms that I might be able to work on to prolong my overall mobility.

the sweet science of physiotherapy

I assumed that this would mean sixty minutes of fairly painful manipulation by the physio, but actually this turned out to be a prolonged investigation to try to understand where I’m breaking down. It seems that, as well as the stiff ankle and a decline in my ability to flex my left foot at the ankle upwards, I have got some stiffness and loss of mobility in my right hip too. The physio thought that this might be in part due to the loss of muscle strength in the left side of my body, but before she gave me a whole load of strength exercises to do, she gave me some simpler ones to see if simply working to mobilise these joints might help.

The last physio I saw a few months ago gave me a pile of exercises to strengthen the leg around my troublesome ITB… but like everyone else in the history of physiotherapy, I stopped doing them as soon as my ITB stopped hurting. As I mentioned above, in spite of all appearances to the contrary (obsessive exercising, blah blah blah), I am a fundamentally lazy man and reluctant to commit to anything as bothersome as regular stretching exercises – I almost never warm up before I go running, for starters…. But this time it feels a bit different: if I want to keep running, I need to make sure my body doesn’t seize up any more than it already has. To do that, I should probably concede that I may need to actually do these exercises.

Besides, I’ve got another appointment in a few weeks time and, although she seemed nice enough, I think my physiotherapist could be quite a force of nature if disappointed with my progress. I’ve had a physio stick a big needle into the sole of my foot before, and he didn’t even seem angry. These people are not to be treated lightly.

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