Monday, January 17, 2005

My Aching Back

An almost imperceptible decline in strength, muscle mass, metabolism, and aerobic activity begins after you enter your fourth decade.
- Ultimate Flexibility, Page 71

After the common cold, back pain is the most common medical complaint in the United is the number one cause of limited activity for adults under age forty-five.

- Ultimate Flexibility, Page 54

What doesn't kill us makes us stronger.

- Nietzsche

I have been really impressed with my physical improvement since I started taking Tae Kwon Do two months ago, although it hasn't been easy. The first two weeks, my legs were so sore I could hardly do more than walk. I worked through that, but then the joints in my legs started aching. That worried me a little, but it went away after another week as my body adapted. As I have been working deeper into my stretches and higher on my kicks, I have had pretty constant "good soreness" throughout my legs, and in only two months I have gone from hardly being able to touch my toes to being able to put my forehead just about a fist's width away from my knee. In another six months I figure I'll be resting my head on my knee while I stretch.

Starting about a month ago I started feeling a very minor pulling sensation in my lower back. Like the stiffness and soreness in my legs, I thought my body would adapt and work through it - just a part of the conditioning - so I just made sure to always stretch my back.

I wasn't even using my back when it felt like someone stuck two knitting needles into both sides of my lower spine. I was doing a warm-up exercise called a slalom jump where you hop back and forth over a small object to get the heart rate up: back-forth-back-forth-MY BACK! You should have seen me hopping then.

Essentially I have been putting too much stress on the lower back without giving it enough time to recover, as I have been working out four times a week. Jumping isn't particularly stressful on the lower back, but it was the proverbial straw that created a pull in my lower back.

It wasn't all that bad after it happened - I walked it off and took it easy the rest of class, but I knew that after I cooled down that I would be in big trouble. My back never went into a full lock-up, but it hurt enough the next day that I was hobbling around like a much older man than I really am.

This morning - two days later - I was still having trouble walking without pain in the morning, but am probably 90% this evening. I figure I won't have any problems tomorrow, then will take a few more days off before - yes - I get right back out there and keep doing what I was doing. I will also take it a little more easy for a few more weeks to give muscles more time to adapt, but I will say that this would never had happened to me just ten years ago.

Getting old sucks.

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