Monday, May 31, 2010

Slow and Steady

Well, I'm happy to report that I'm on the road to recovery (again). Got confirmation that the pain in my right leg was due to a rather nastily inflamed nerve caused by the good old sacrum in my lower back. Also found out that I have early stage plantar fascitis in my right foot, but that's really a minor issue overall -- we'll address that next. But for now, the focus is getting the pain in my leg to settle down, and to get my lower back stabilized so that I don't continually reactivate this stupid injury.

So, I did a nice round of methylprednisolone tablets for a week. On the upside, it dropped the pain by a solid 50%. On the downside, I spent the first 4-5 days feeling like I was going to jump out of my skin at any moment. Man, I hate that stuff. Now, we're onto physical therapy and manual therapy once per week -- adjusting my spine, massaging the tissue around the nerve, stretching, etc. Progress is slower than I'd prefer, but steady. I'm also continuing to modify my workouts to focus more on technique, less on power and speed.

Frankly, the focus on technique comes at a good time, as in yet another example of how everything is connnected, physically, I've developed some bad habits in my kicking as a result of my injuries that need to be addressed. About 2 weeks ago, my instructor noticed that lately I'd begun pointing my toes when I did front kicks. Now, the proper way to execute a front kick is with the toes pulled back, striking the target with the ball of the foot. And that's the way I've done that kicks for years. But lately, I'd begun pointing my toes: I caught myself on occasion, and he spotted it while we were doing some line drills too.

Inititally I had no idea why I'd begun doing this: I know it's incorrect, and I tend to be a stickler for technique, focusing on fine points and tormenting myself to get them right. But this one had slipped in, and I really hadn't noticed at first. But then, after I began physical therapy and started focusing more on how I move, where I put my leg when I kick, how I tend to arch my lower back (bad) instead of activating my abs and keeping my lower back stable (good), I put it together.

One of the things I pride myself on is the height of my kicks. Not that they're like insanely astronomicaly high, exactly, but when compared with the vast majority of men at my age, with my level of experience, I think I'm comfortable top 10%. However, when I realized I was pointing my toes when I kicked, I pulled them back and kicked to my normal height and ... whammo! Pain in my leg. However, if I point my toes, it prevents the inflamed nerve from being strectched, and I can kick higher. It's a shitty kick, sure, but it's high.


So yeah, now I'm forcing myself to kick a little lower, but correctly. I'm also constantly reminding myself to not arch my lower back as I setle into a front stance. All in all it's odd: I'm having to be much more "present" mentally when training than I'm used to. I can usually detach and let go, relax more, when I train, but until I can get my body retrained and straightened out, it's more important that I maintain focus and monitor my body mechanics so that I can put this latest round of physical nonsense behind me.

One year until my Ee Dan test. Gotta focus on the real goal, here.

Mood: A bit punchy
Now Playing: Nothing

Monday, May 17, 2010

Knee Bone's Connected to the Leg Bone, Etc.

Goddamn I'm frustrated.

About 7 months back I started having a lot of pain in my left knee. So, since I'm not a total idiot, I eased up on the intensity of my training and stopped sparring to give myself some time to recuperate. Annoying, because I was starting to feel really good about my sparring -- I felt like my instincts were finally starting to help offset my big 42-year-old body's limitations. I was enjoying sparring more than I ever had. But well, what's the big deal, right? Short term time-out to recover, then I'm back on the mat. Right?

Six weeks later, still no sparring, still no improvement in the pain in my knee. Plus my leg started giving out, feeling weak and fatigued all the time.

So, I start physical therapy. Get a big-ass cortisone injection in my knee. The pain starts to let up, and PT helps me regain the strength and retrain the muscles in my leg. But then, thanks to the wonderful yin/yang relationship of the right side to the left side of the body, I manage to injure my right ankle while I compensate for the weakness in my leg and adjust to the new mobility in my left knee. More pain. More time away from sparring.

Next up, my left foot gets all screwed up. Probably from adjusting my gait and technique to accommodate the injured right knee. More pain. More time away from sparring.

Then, just as it's getting better and I'm starting to feel ready-to-go, I do a trade show in Nashville and spend 16 hours a day on my feet in dress shoes. Totally screws my lower back up, activating my old sacrum injury. Big, hot pain in the back of my hammies on my right leg, numbness and tingling in my toes, stabbing pain in the bottom of my foot. I begin doing some ad hoc PT on my own to try to mobilize the nerve trunk and get the pain to ease off. It ... kinda works.

Next, I continue training through the pain. I've got Nationals coming up in less than two months, and my physical therapist told me that while I may be in pain the training isn't going to make things worse. I just need to dial it down a bit. Kick a little lower.

And, of course, continue to not spar.

But the pain doesn't let up, and now after 5 weeks of waiting (and, truth be told, avoiding dealing with this) I've got yet another appointment with my PT to try to get these chronic pain issues squared away. Hopefully tomorrow I'll get a better idea of what I need to do to get this under control.

I'm really, really frustrated. It's not so much the pain, per se. I'm used to pain, and since I know I'm not actually making things worse right now by training a big part of what I've been focusing on in training through these injuries is getting myself to just accept pain and work through it, to not anticipate it and mess up my technique as a result.

This has been successful, to an extent -- my forms are looking pretty solid when I'm having a good day and I'm not too shot. At this rate my Chil Sung will be looking pretty good for competition come July, assuming I can hit the ring fresh and rested. Stamina and performance-wise I'm good for three or four times through before the pain makes it hard to execute some of the tougher techniques in the form well. So I'll just need to save my energy for go-time come July.

But it's hard to enjoy training when you spend half of your time biting your lip, or getting pissed off for the way you whiffed what just a few months ago was a fairly easy technique. It's hard to devote so much energy to ... not letting pain stop you from proceeding, or at least finishing, what you set out to do, even when all you're trying to do is get through 75 minutes of class.

And here I am, 7 or more months without sparring. I watch the guys sparring at the end of class, and all I can think is ... man, when I finally manage to get back in there I am going to SUCK.

Sigh. Grrr.

Wish me luck on my appointment tomorrow. Hopefully I can get ahead of these injuries and get back to where I need to be. Only have a year until my Ee Dan test, which I also hope to be a Kyo Sa test as well. I have a lot of shit to do. I need to get it done.

Mood: Less than pleased
Now Playing: Nothing.