Sunday, December 13, 2015

San Bernardino and Your Core

Obviously, this is NOT me
Last year, I borrowed my daughters $99 Walmart bike and sported a pair of children's Halloween gloves inscribed with with the word, "Boo" to start training for a cycling event. My Olympic worthy cyclist friends stifled their laughs and allowed me to ride along. These gals deserve a medal for defying gravity and not tipping over at 3.5 mph! (that's about the speed I was going- for real!) Eventually, I invested in a proper road bike. I now own two jerseys and a  pair of those padded biker pants. (My kids call them baboon pants.) Soon after collecting my new riding swag, I went for a ride. I was feeling pretty smug in my fashionable riding gear, traveling along the vineyard lined Tesla road, giving the unifying nod to fellow cycling friends. Towards the end of my ride, I became aware of a creak, creak, creak and seconds later a grandpa in full-on fleece sweat pants on a 1980's 3 speed bike passed me. Whaaat?!
I've now learned two lessons from cycling 1. Do not disrespect grandpas in sweats 2. cycling kills my elbow! It's true, I have developed medial epicondylitis--tendonitis of the inside elbow--"pitchers elbow". Weird, right? One would think I would be struggling with knee pain or any other lower body pain. But nooooo- elbow pain it is. And I've learned why:
Medial elbow pain is due to lack of core strength and lack of scapular muscle strength, called the scapular stabilizers. Many of those who do CrossFit or who cycle are very strong and can perform many movements and very heavy lifts without being strong in these areas. Your body will find ways around the weak muscles and you will lift the weight and cycle the distance. The body is very good at coming up with other muscles to use in the presence of weak ones.

I continued to read... If there is a lack of core strength, then the scapula is unable to stabilize correctly—meaning that the hands and wrists are forced to work harder. The abdominals need to be solid before any extremity moves and if they are not, the body starts going down the chain looking for the stability. It will recruit the scapula stabilizers and if they are deficient, then the elbow and wrist muscles will start to have to work harder. This overuse will cause a tendinitis to develop. click to learn more

I know you are thinking, "this NorCal gal is reaching... what does her hurt elbow have to do with the recent San Bernardino shootings?!" Let me 'splain:

When I heard of the horrific events in San Bernardino and the related commentary, I reflected on what could be an answer to this continuing terror? Is it stricter gun laws, intensified vetting for immigrants, rigorous mental health checks? And then I thought about my tendonitis. (again, weird.) I thought about my initial course of action to reduce the pain of my elbow. I had taken the lion's share of Advil, I could get a cortisone shot, rest, ice, etc. But these actions would just ease the pain- temporarily. If I wanted to prevent further damage and enjoy cycling longevity, I had to do what Dr. Moore's article suggested--strengthen my core. And what is the core we can strengthen to decrease gun violence, terror and unrest? Our Family. We can not change the events around us or even prevent them from happening, but if we strengthen our family, we can be hopeful for a brighter tomorrow.  If we focus on the family--our core, the chances of you being the parent to a son or daughter that wields a AK-47 willy-nilly at the nearest mall is diminished.

So the next time you feel a strain in your appendages---body or community, take the advice of Dr. Heather Moore and strengthen your core. read Dr. Moore's article