The accumulated stress of first reintroducing box squats and deadlifts and then proceeding with the normal program, including weighted hypers and Bradford presses, ended up being too much after all. I’m now twisted again as in drooping right shoulder as in lumbago.
The Reaper came on Saturday. I had just had a refreshing swim in the dark n’ chilly August water and was standing outside watching the fireworks that, paradoxically enough, celebrated the end of the Finnish summer cottage season. Stiffness gradually turned into pain and I had to make a limping retreat inside to lay down. Next morning, the cramp was still with me. A liberal amount of pain killers made the six hour car ride back to Helsinki quite tolerable sorry mood notwithstanding.
Monday morning was much the same, but felt obliged to go to work to wrap some things up including returning the big pile of math books that I had corrected over the weekend (23 books + 1 crooked back = a lot of trouble). I ended up teaching all classes and planned the rest of the week for a possible stand-in before finally heading for the doctor. By this time, the adductors on the inside of my left thigh had also started to tighten up, possibly from all the running around.
At the doctor’s I knew the drill. Tell story, have knees and ankles hammered, bend over and confirm that you can feel your feet. On the bending over part I surprised both myself and the doctor with almost being able to touch the floor despite the cramp. I also knew what I would get, i.e. a prescription for tizanidine and diclofenac to deal with the cramp and some sick leave (rest of the week) to prevent me from doing any more potentially hazardous math equations. I asked the doctor’s opinion on taking a MRI scan of my back. She said that since everything, luckily, points to a muscle condition and not a disc condition this would amount to a waste of my money. She also expressed high regard for the expertise at the back clinic and continued that relapses are quite common when dealing with something as complex as a back injury. After the appointment I went to the bookstore to pick up another Vonnegut, this time Palm Sunday, and then headed for the pharmacy. The adductors were starting to make life difficult for me and I was thankful the bus had been invented. Home.
This morning I was straight again, but as I prepared my breakfast the back cramp kicked back in. The adductors also keep defying the muscle relaxants by going into a painful cramp whenever I stand or walk for more than a minute. Can’t even do the banana, but interestingly enough I don’t really feel that I need it. The back is no longer painful, but the adductors are.
Adductors, adductors. Why would they cramp? Somewhat grudgingly I have to admit that for some time I haven’t been able to sit down on the floor and open my legs more than 90 degrees. I remember the days when I could spread them out a full 180 and then put my chest on the floor. Tightness is definitively a prime suspect. And what am I going to do about that? Stretch, stretch.
I found an interesting article by Chris Mallac that discusses how overuse of the adductor magnus may lead to trigger point development within the muscle. His first case study deals with a powerlifter with a six-month history of left-sided lower back pain. The patient had, like me, also done exercises for the core stabilizers and had also had cortisone injections to no avail. A month after trigger point massage of the adductors began this lifter was back on track on both the deadlift and the squat. It is interesting to read that the author has found the large majority of adductor magnus problems to be left-sided, which would also be true in my case if it turns out I have trigger points there.
All in all, I don’t think this relapse really necessitates a fundamental rethinking of my rehab approach. The increased mobility and lower amount of stiffness is a sign that progress has taken place, but I definitively need to reconsider my squat and deadlift schedule. I also need to take stretching more seriously and liberate my legs. Two steps forward, one step back, I suppose. Good thing I can bench.