April 23, 2020

Fix Yo Self - 'I Have No Core' Edition

While it's definitely, definitely difficult being away from Connor this long, there are some silver linings, and one of which has been slowing down and taking the time to figure out and fix some fascinating long standing body issues. Also, in the process of that, I injured myself, so that's cool.

I am just now understanding how weak my core is compared to my back.  It started a few months ago when I asked my CrossFit coach to watch me do abmat situps and help me figure out why I have ALWAYS been so much slower than everyone else at them, even people brand new to CrossFit.

He told me I actually wasn't using my abs at all to do them, but I was instead using my hip flexors to sort of kip them.  He put a pair of 30lb dumbbells over my feet, which I thought would make them easier but actually made them harder, because it forced me to use my abs.  This was step 1, and for the first time after this I actually started to see some ab definition!

Step 2 in this journey was Pilates.  I cannot, at all, do a roll-up (photo below) unless I use momentum.  Part of this is how weak my abs are, and part of it, she pointed out, is how inflexible my lower back is.  We worked on strengthening my abs and loosening my lower back, and I wondered if my inflexible lower back is what Nancy K meant when she said "Something about the way you sit on the horse shuts his movement down."  If I'm not absorbing the motion in my lower back because it's so inflexible I actually can't, that movement is probably being transmitted harshly back to the horse - I think.

Step 3 was that I strained my "strong side" SI.  I've never done that before, heck, I've never been injured before in any way!  With the (remote) help of a PT friend, I figured out it's because I've been dramatically over-using my back for everything, and because my right side glute/leg is so much stronger than the left. It's an overuse injury waiting to happen, and it finally did.

Me pointing to where it hurts for my PT friend (after texting his wife to let her know I was sending her husband a picture of my butt, and she said "Girl you don't need to ask my permission but thanks for letting me know cause I'm gonna check your butt out too!" hahaha)
He gave me a set of exercises to heal my SI and a second set to help me reset my pelvis and strengthen my abs - and they are HARD.  The takeaway here is that even as strong as I am, my strength is built entirely around overcompensating for weaknesses in my body.  And that has no doubt been affecting the way I ride.  I don't have the core strength or brain-muscle connection to maintain my bear down for long.

Trying to continue working out body parts that don't hurt

Normally I'm not sure I'd have the time or attention span to do 90 minutes of PT and Pilates every day on top of working out for an hour, but like, what else am I going to do with my time right now?  And it's nice to still feel like I'm working on riding even if I'm out of the saddle.

Anyone else exercising or mobilizing in captivity?


  1. This is super interest and.. now that you mention it... I probably compensate similarly. Ugh. I guess it's time to add in those pilates reps.

  2. That spot you are pointing to on your lower back/SI is exactly where I keep straining myself, and in fact have aggravated it rather badly right now. Sigh. PT has been a huge help but I have fallen off the wagon of my exercises with this whole crisis stuff, so I need to work on that again.

    1. DO NOT fall off that wagon! Back pain is something you want to nip in the bud with PT, almost more than any other body part. I'll give you a pass on other kinds of pain but keeping up with PT for an SI injury is super important. Since I'm also doing PT for it myself I'll be your accountability buddy if you need one!

  3. When I first started crossfit I had horrible SI pain, and my coach gave me a bunch of stretches to help relieve the spasms that I'd be wracked with on an almost daily basis. But ever since I started working out, as long as I'm consistent about working out, I haven't had any recurrences. Focusing on my core strength has made a big difference in my riding AND in my lower back pain.

    I'm jealous of your pilates instruction but ugh - they are so hard!!!

  4. I never got a PT referral after I broke my back and I've never been the same. I think I need to see if finding one would help even now, two years later, because my back suuuucks.