Baby got back!

22 Feb

I like big butts and I can not lie…  Oh, Sir Mixalot, how I love thee… You did more for big-bottomed girls than Queen.

Now, I’ve always liked my ass.  It’s huge, yes, but it has a nice shape to it, and for years I’ve gone around thinking that it was, well, in good shape and I didn’t need to do any specific exercises for it because the occasional squat covered everything.  Apparently Not.  It turns out that ‘out of sight’ really is out of mind.

Recently, my doctor referred me for physiotherapy as I have what can be kindly described as a ‘dodgy back’ and would really like to avoid spinal surgery, ever.  I had an MRI in September—OMG, I love MRIs.  Am I weird?  So bizarrely relaxing—after about five years of on and off again back pain, ranging from oh, my back’s a bit sore today to I would be screaming if I could actually figure out how to open my mouth.  It turns out that I have three prolased discs in my lumbar region (L4, L5, SC1), one of which has fallen backwards and is intermittently compressing my sciatic nerve, which has left me with (aside from the back pain), a weird patch of altered sensation on the top of my right foot.  Did you know the sciatic nerve is the longest in the body, running down both legs?  That goes some way toward explaining why sciatica hurts so bloody much.

We don’t know how I prolapsed all these discs (but I’m pretty convinced that it happened during Lucas’s birth which was fast and unmanaged), and we certainly aren’t going to have a surgical intervention unless I start spending a lot of time flopping around on the floor in spasm (I have no plans for this), so the best thing seemed to be some intensive physiotherapy.  Hence the referral.

Enter Janet, my tiny physiotherapist.  I’d imagine that you’ll hear a lot about Janet in the next few months…

I went into the appointment expecting lots of poking and prodding and to them be given loads and loads of ab exercises.  It didn’t quite turn out that way… After ‘gently examining my back’ which felt more like The Mighty Thor was smacking his hammer down my spine, Janet  asked me to do a bridge.  So I dutifully did one and thought that I’d done quite well, until she said, “Now, do it again, but this time don’t brace your arms and really clench your buttocks.  Stop cheating.”  So I tried… and tried… and eventually managed to get my ass about an inch off the bed.  Clenching one’s buttocks shouldn’t be the hardest thing ever, should it?  It would appear that my glutes have gone into hibernation (which is a nicer thought than my muscles atrophying.  They’re just asleep.)  We won’t talk about my pitiful attempt at a one-legged bridge.

I then discovered that my sciatic pain has two sources.  The prolapsed discs and apparently, my sciatic nerve runs through my piriformis muscle instead of alongside it, which has irritated the nerve!  Wonderful.  Wikipedia tells me that 17% of people have thie lovely mutation.  My husband is beginning to wonder if I am still under warranty for returns…

In good news, I am really flexible.  She couldn’t stop talking about it, in tones of absolute astonishment.  I couldn’t quite figure out if I was astonishingly flexible or astonishingly flexible for a fat person.  Either way, Janet the Physio is Astonished.  She also tells me that I have really strong abs which is nice.  I look forward to revealing six-pack abs when I hit goal.  There’s a lot to be said for contracting your abs every so often and isometrically squeezing them.  I do it whenever I remember (guess what I’m doing right now?), while I’m standing in a queue at the supermarket, when I’m waiting at the traffic lights.  Like I said, whenever.  Mark Sisson wrote a post about this a few years ago, here.  I am now trying to do the same for my ass which is really hard as I seem to be clenching the hamstring and outer thigh muscles instead.

The upshot of this appointment is that I need to do lots and lots of bridges, pelvic tilts and clams to start strengthening the glutes and also work on my overall core strength by spending time sitting on a Swiss ball.  (Apparently I get to work up to doing bridges and crunches on the ball.  Yay!)  I dutifully trotted out and bought one last night and after the hilarity of blowing it up (Dave drew some very expressive squeaks and wheezes from the pump) spent a very wobbly ten minutes on it before bedtime, trying to lift one foot off the ground and well, not fall over.  My living room is now accessorised by a large shiny silver ball that makes me simultaneously think of Barbarella and a Sontaran spaceship.  I suspect I resemble a potato-headed alien more than I do Jane Fonda…

Oh!  Oh!  And in a few months, when I’ve got some strength in my glutes, I can join the hospital gym for their “Back to Fitness” group!  Geddit?  Geddit?   Janet told me about this while I was sitting on a Swiss ball.  Nearly broke my neck laughing.  I do love a good pun…

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