I don’t really have any conclusions yet, here, but thought I should write out some of my thinking as I pursue answers. (I also don’t have any photos for this post, sorry!)
I’ve read with interest and fascination a few bloggers recently diagnosing and starting to work with lingering body issues that were impacting their riding. In particular, Austen at Guinness on Tap (part 1 and part 2) and Megan at A Enter Spooking (here) both talked thoroughly and thoughtfully about specific injuries. Jen at Cob Jockey also talked about her own body weaknesses and how they affected Connor.
Like any other thirtysomething equestrian, I also have some longterm physical stuff. I have gout, which is chronic and inherited and occasionally flares up. I also have a lower back / SI injury from a fall off of Tristan about 12 years ago. Neither had been all that present for me until recently.
In September, I signed up for some intro classes at our local CrossFit affiliate. I knew I needed some additional form of exercise beyond riding, I knew that it needed to be class-based, and I knew that a lot of equestrians I really respected really liked CrossFit. So I gave it a try, and like many before me, I got really hooked. I’m now going three days a week, on my riding days off.
I’ve made huge strides in a lot of the areas I was hoping for: overall body awareness, strength, core strength, general fitness, and an enjoyment of exercise that I haven’t really had before.
But about three weeks ago we did an absolute killer WOD and somewhere at about burpee #75 my form started to fail. By burpee #95 I had flexed my lower back & SI one too many times, and it was well and truly re-aggravated.
I’ve also been grappling a bit with exercise-induced gout too: my right foot now clicks with every step, and is stiff and sore some days, in the mornings especially.
Both of those things obviously are impacting my riding – both the action itself as well as the motivation, some days.
I’ve scheduled a few things to try and help, and am making further plans as I go, so we’ll see what actually works out.
First: I have about 6 weeks of physical therapy appointments scheduled specifically to address my janky SI joint. The initial injury was a compression at speed, from hitting the ground headfirst on a fall from Tristan, so we need to unlock it and then re-teach my body how to move smoothly without pain. I have a series of exercises to do that, and to strengthen and stabilize the joint itself.
Second: I have talked through the strain with all my regular CrossFit coaches and am carefully limiting myself in exercises that are triggering it. Burpees in particular; I am taking them slowly and really engaging my core and bearing down to move correctly and with as much stabilization as possible. That means my WOD numbers suck right now on burpee days. Oh well.
Third: I have called around to both chiropractors and massage therapists and will hopefully be doing both in the next few weeks to also relax & loosen around the joint.
I don’t yet know whether this will be a longterm challenge, or a shorter-term flareup. I hope that by attacking it aggressively right now, I’ll both fight back any acute problems and lay a better foundation to prevent them in the future.