Thursday, January 5, 2012

feet first, part two

[This is long for the sake of anyone Googling seemingly inexplicable knee problems. I feel ya.]

My processing limitations are such that I could not simultaneously follow what Curtis was doing and what he was saying. I know there was some poking and prodding; then I got on the trainer and watched my knee wobble around a laser sight indicating a straight line. The slick video setup also allowed me the novel view of my own ass on the bike, a perspective which in retrospect my ego might have been better spared. With some effort, I forced my mind off these mildly unsettling images and on to the Cramblett verdict: "The tail is wagging the dog."

The tail(s)

February 2009. Wa-waaaa.

It's been nearly three years since I broke my collarbone (small bone, big club) and scapula (the opposite). So I was surprised to learn that this stupidass crash is still quietly sabotaging me, the tightness over the point of impact twisting my entire body sideways. I was skeptical of this analysis until Curtis physically pulled me straight—or at least, the mirror said "straight"; my muscles said "turning, hard". It was a little surreal, like being in a really un-fun funhouse. Who knew?

That's one end. The other is my wretchedly pronated, draft-dodger feet. I wear orthotics, but Curtis's take is that those don't retrain the muscles that do the work every time I hit the ground or try to put power to a pedal. So how do you do that? Well, here's a funny video:

It's funny because it looks like nothing. But it's incredibly hard, both in terms of the precision involved and the force—somewhere in between trying to wiggle your ears and crack your back. ETA for the right position being "natural"? Eh, couple years.

The dog

The part I did know is that my core is kind of pathetic. Having been previously told I could get my kneecaps to track correctly by strengthening my legs, I'd focused on that—hundreds of wobbly one-legged squats. No good. Pro roadie Kristin Sanders covers Curtis's "canon on a canoe" analogy, so I'll skip that—but the point is that my disproportionate muscle is affecting more than my ability to find jeans that fit.

The part I didn't know is that I'm "hypermobile". Curtis posed a spectrum, with a creaky old man at one, the average at five, and a Cirque de Soleil contortionist at ten. Here, I made a diagram. Look at the swagger on "average"!

"You're maybe an eight," Curtis said, bending my thumb back on my wrist (painless) to illustrate his point. "Not a circus freak, but ... ." I sat cross-legged with my elbows on the floor, writing notes into a binder. "How many people do you think can sit like that?" he asked. "Can't everyone?" He laughed. Ah.

The most awesome part about this is that it means I won't be assigned a bunch of goddamn yoga, which I hate. The least awesome part, basically, is that if something can go wrong it will. When the tails wag, my overly pliable muscles follow them without resistance into arrangements that hurt.

The rest

I ... don't know yet, actually, what to do with this information. For now I'm trying to stop ricocheting between giddy fantasies of how much faster I might be if I could get this right and despair for how unlikely it seems that I ever will. Check back.



alex said...

oye clavicle.

Anonymous said...

This is really similar to some of the problems that I've had, as in it all tracks back to compensation due to breaking that damn collarbone. Good luck with the exercises, as encouragement I will say that I've found stretches/exercises that have made my particular symptoms go away. Hope that you finally are able to solve this bugger!

Tom R

Alia Salim said...

Thanks, Tom! While sulking and whining I tend to get the impression that no one in the history of time has ever had -- much less fixed -- a similar problem, and that the bike gods hate me uniquely. I really benefit from evidence to the contrary. :)