Core Values

My brother David has been trying to convince me to read the book “Foundation:  Redefine Your Core, Conquer Back Pain, and Move with Confidence” every time I mention lower back issues. Like avoiding dental cleaning (though that’s on my to-do list as well), I’ve never gone out of my way to strengthen my abdominal or back muscles because it has always seemed a bit tedious and uncomfortable. Plus, I clearly enjoy exercise with a view, and investigating the pattern of my living room rug or the blank slate of the ceiling overhead while working on abs and glutes is somehow even less appealing.  I suppose it’s also possible I’ve avoided core training because I’m hopelessly inept.  I’ll happily run for an hour or bike for two, but I could probably mark the number of sit-ups I can properly execute on one hand.  Maybe two.

At any rate, with major abdominal surgery looming on the horizon, I can’t put off my core work any longer.  Along with a generous amount of skin and most of the subcutaneous fat in my lower abdomen, the plastic surgeon will also be removing a postage stamp sized piece of abdominal muscle attached to a length of blood vessel.  That might not sound like much muscle tissue, but some patients going through the same Muscle-Sparing Free TRAM (transverse rectus abdominus myocutaneous) procedure never quite regain their full abdominal strength, with a fair fraction unable to perform a sit-up.  In addition, ever since I started spending copious amounts of time lounging in the not-so-easy chair in my study after my first surgery, I’ve noticed discomfort every time I bend down to put on my shoes or pick up the laundry.  I finally made the connection between the chair’s poor ergonomics and my back pain after a few weeks, but by then the damage was done, unmitigated by stretching or massages.

Fortunately, David had my back and aptly recommended “Foundation.”  It starts off with a forward by Lance Armstrong (him again!), progresses through a brief anatomy lesson, and then launches into a terse pictorial description of 5 basic exercises (at least, that’s as far as I’ve gotten).  Although I’ve half-heartedly sampled the exercises for the past couple of weeks, I tried them in earnest today after barely being able to put on my bike shoes.  The routines seem similar to yoga and don’t require any special equipment, aside from gravity and a floor. After a half hour of deciphering the pictures and finding the correct positions, presto, something clicked (and it wasn’t just my back)!  One little session and all of a sudden the pain was gone.  With success like that, count me in:  I’ll be back for more.

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