Work in progress…micro movements?

So first things first, after my last blog post, I have to report that so far I have still not seen any evidence of unusual mouse activity!

chamonix-landscape-1
In between posts we have however had some more snow up high, the snowline now seems stabilised at around 2300m, maybe a bit lower on the Northern shaded slopes but so far no real depth below the Glacier levels. Things change quickly as we know and maybe the mice are working nights. The moles are however very busy building extensions in the garden. The dogs think this is great as they have holes already started and can dig really deep very quickly and spread the soil everywhere so that there’s absolutely no chance of me ever filling the hole back in…fantastic!

Hopefully this will all be covered in snow very soon so I can leave it as a next summer job.

The fitness routine is going well. I’m running about 10km a day at the moment and trying to work on my micro movement patterns as I go.

Micro movement is something I’ve been focusing on a lot recently, it’s all about form, the way we move and the movement patterns we use.

I’ve basically physically abused my body for the past 30 years or so and continue to do so everyday and so in recent years my body has started to tell me about things I shouldn’t do or try anymore. Being a bit stubborn, and I hear those that know me say, ‘Neil, stubborn…no way!’ I kind of see these bodily restrictions as a challenge to overcome.

Most recently (for the past year) I’ve been suffering with tendonosis in my Quad tendon in right knee.

patellar+tendon

It became a chronic injury about 9 months ago and obviously the professional opinion is that it requires the kind of rest that its not going to get…ie…3 months rest?????

With another big winter approaching I have therefore taken the ‘whole’ month of November to try to sort out the problem and by this I don’t mean that I am resting, but that I am working on rehabilitating my knee without dropping activity…I heard somewhere that ‘change is as good as a rest anyway?’

Now this might have nothing to do with Snowboarding at the moment, but I know that most of my regular snowboarding clients are as obsessed about their fitness as I am…or nearly anyway, so here’s my findings so far on my month of re-habilitation by simply doing more not less…if it works, maybe we can all gain from it.

Ok, so to start with I focused on form and function. I focused on how I move and how I use my limbs and core in everyday life. It’s pretty interesting to explore the movement patterns that we use everyday. It’s amazing the shortcuts we come up with in simple everyday movements such as getting out of bed, getting dressed, sitting down and even walking about.

Every experience changes how we move and injuries have the biggest affect and can be long lasting unless we strip our movements right back to basics. I guess it’s like with most things, if there’s a problem at the foundation level then everything will crumble at some point in the future no matter how much we under pin it with makeshift solutions.

So I started exploring how I use my knee and when it hurts etc and this led quickly to me having to explore everything else.

Within the last 9 months or so I have changed my movement patterns very slightly due to the pain in my tendon and this month is all about rebalance and re focus.

What started with knee pain has, I am finding out now, become a very subtle whole body imbalance as I favour movements that minimise the pain.

Unfortunately this also causes the problem to grow as the unused muscles become weaker and the body re-balances everyday to favour the new movement pattern.

So, this has all been sneaking into my everyday life without me being totally aware of it. Of course, being someone that loves exploring body movement and bio mechanics I knew something was a foot, but just not how deep it would go in terms of my everyday movements.

Having taken this month to explore the problem it is the first time that I have taken a step back and concentrated on my body’s muscle memory patterns for quite a while and I am amazed at how many conscious subtle movements are required to re-align and re balance my body.

I’m also still dealing with pain from my knee which is trying to make me move in the my new unbalanced way, but as I change my muscle memory the pain is also changing, my knee is becoming stronger again and the inflammation is receding.

I feel like I am making progress…

So, with not wanting to reduce my level of activity I stopped cycling and started running, something that is know to be supremely bad for your knees!

Great…good thinking I hear you say…

But I chip in, the movement patterns in the knee in running are more reduced than in cycling and so the movement within the tendon is reduced. The impact is increased but I am building the muscles surrounding my knee to cope with this by doing body weight plyometric work and single leg squats. I am also massaging and using ultra sound on my knee every evening.

It’s an interesting theory…this overload of activity rather than rest, the focus on micro movements and form and against all the odds, it is starting to work!

Once you start looking at micro movements there is no end to it. It’s like you just opened the doors to a whole new world of awareness. What started out as how I use my knees has moved into how I use my feet and then up to how I flex at the hip. This causes a rebalance in my back which again causes pain and tension as I’ve been cheating and so I have to strengthen my core.

What started out as a knee problem has now become a whole body work out!

Still, now that everything hurts more the pain in my knee seems reduced!

Well, all of this sounds pretty shit, I hear you say…but then I’m focusing on the long term goal which is increased body performance and better body maintenance which as I get older is increasingly more important.

Of course as I get closer to my goals the posts will shift and this month of re habilitation has simply become the start of a never ending journey into the bio mechanics of my everyday existence.

Hmmm…what have I started?

So yesterday on my run I focused on the way I use my right hip as I’ve been compensating with my left. This obviously led to a different use of the surrounding muscles in my lower back, glutes and thighs and a rebalance in my calves and feet…so everything really! I might even need to shift my upper body a few millimetres to the right aswell, so I played around with this during my morning stretch and dog walk.

It’s amazing how interesting walking can become if you focus on the movements and getting them perfect!

It’s work in progress, but I think its working. I’ve also become so much more aware of how I use the rest of my body and the imbalances that the knee has caused.

Neil-Splits

From just working on my knee this month, I’ve started running, I’m able to perform the splits again, I’ve re-kindled my interest in bouldering, I’ve upped my upper body and core work and started doing some Tae Kwon Do again.

Change is as good as a rest?

I seem to have just increased my activity load…

I’ll let you know…its all simply work in progress