Flippy Floppy

Posted: January 23, 2014 in 2014
Tags: , , , , ,

If I was asked to describe myself with only a few words “stiff” might be an adjective I’d use. That obviously depends on a number of factors, for example, I’m not going to walk up to random strangers or schoolkids and whisper “ooh, I’m so stiff”, but given the right conditions and company it is a word I’d use. I’m not particularly fluid or flexible, I don’t flow well. I think about things a lot and can be overly analytical. Swimming has been a particular struggle for me as I actually stop moving and think about what I’m doing (wrong) as I’m doing it which invariably leads to me sinking. If I don’t manage to avoid the glare of cameras on nights out or social occasions a common accusation levelled against me when the pictures see the light of day, populated with people gambolling, laughing, dancing or falling around while I remain a pillar of austerity, is that I think I’m “too cool for school”. It’s not that, it’s just that I’m a bit, well, stiff.

This inherent stiffness has been exacerbated by me pounding the roads in recent years and when I was silly enough to not give myself sufficient recovery time I ended up picking up a lot of injuries, seeing a lot of physios and missing a lot of running.

During that time one of the best physios I saw was Reiltin Treacy, who’s based in Newbridge. When I saw her she pinpointed my lower back and glutes as the source of my problem, and  although my problems generally manifested themselves in my calf muscles, specifically my left, this didn’t come as a huge surprise as I was spending over three hours a day driving to and from work. Combine that with a desk based job and thats a lot of time compacting your lower spine. I eased back on the mileage, spent a lot of money on physio and eventually my problems went away.

This year I expect my mileage to ramp up significantly, and I really don’t want to spend too much (any) time injured so in order to mitigate that risk I’m looking at injury prevention, rather than treatment. One of the ways I intend to do that is pilates. I’ve actually been meaning to start pilates for at least two years now, but for whatever reason (cough laziness cough procrastination) haven’t. As well as the injury prevention and increase in flexibility what I’m really hoping to get out of pilates is an incease in core strength. An area where I fall down massively, especially in longer races, is a weak core. I know I’m not alone in that regard, at the end of every marathon you see people shuffling along, bent over double, and that’s in large part down to having a weak core. This also of course leads to muscle tightening, cramping and injuries. Likewise, when I’ve hauled myself up, or staggered down, Croagh Patrick or similar obstacles I’ve resembled one of the lesser hobbits making an attempt on Mount Doom. Again, not helped by a weak core.

To try and improve this undesirable state of affairs I’ve finally bitten the bullet and started pilates in Newbridge, classes led by none other than the aforementioned Reiltin Treacy, and do you know what? It’s only bloody brilliant. Admittedly I spent the first class struggling mightily with my breathing, invariably inhaling when I should have been exhaling, or even worse not breathing at all, but this week it was much better. Despite the fact that it’s only two weeks in, and therefore the positive effects I’m feeling are possibly psychosomatic, but I feel fitter and trimmer afterwards too, though it’s debatable whether I’m any more flexible just yet. What I do know for sure though is that I’m really enjoying the class. We’ll hopefully see later in the year the tangible benefits of pilates, but I know I drove home from my class on Tuesday with a smile on my face, and that’s enough for now.

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