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No Pain for Little Gain?

Week 10 – still carrying on the healthy recovery diet, and trying to get life back to normal, or as much as this injury will let me. Still getting my TRX sessions in and pushing the neck in the directions advised by my physio Mark Booth. These are assisted stretch out exercises, that you can fit in as and when, either block them into your evening work out or sporadically during the day. I have booked a few more regular jobs in so kinda some sort of normal routine as the pressure to be helping Anita with running of the house income wise was starting to weigh on my mind, added to the not being able to ride in any kind of normal format is adding to my mental state of mind. Even being around the sport/past time in some sort of format, taking pictures, trail works, being in the environment doesn’t quiet cut it when it’s your main passion and go to release from what life throws your way day to day!  No Pain for Little Gain?

So Physio proper has started in earnest, and I mean deep uncomfortable prodding, manipulation, working deep into those muscle fibers stretching out those tendons with an aim to get them firing up and back to some sort of normal function. I knew it wasn’t going to be comfortable that was the whole reason going with Mark at body limits. He knows what I do as a sport and where I need to be with it, to coach, race and ride at my desired level. The root cause of the snagging or sensation of cramp like sensations was the scar tissue grafting to my muscles between my shoulders? Mark explained “So take a chicken breast outer skin rough in texture when you try to remove it you sometimes see an iridescent thin membrane that goes between the two, this enables your skin to move freely over your muscles” Mine has grafted together with the healing process, so every so often with certain neck movements I’ll feel a pulling sensation.  The manipulation of this area wasn’t a pleasant experience to be honest but it was something that needed doing and Mark doesn’t hold back I can tell you.  Anita has been on hand to help release this also and she’s quiet gentile in comparison but even her touch sent those snagging spasms up my neck.  No Pain for Little Gain?

Always leaving physio with a positive mind set, feeling looser or is that just the relief that pain of working those muscles is over for another week, tomorrow will feel considerably worse as the muscle groups will be angry, protesting with the internal ambulance crews still mending my shit!  A constant battle within, another try on the bike when the area had calmed down from being a physio war zone.  Positive mind set Mark, Positive mind set keep running over in my subliminal mind, felt marginally better or am I just kidding myself? We set off on the now standard 5k loop, knowing we could have rest stops. The neck still on almost full stops and starting to ache down my back we managed 2.5k before our first break, the second 2.5k consisted of a gradual uphill, that I put some effort in as the neck and shoulders got heavier and heavier just made it home absolutely spent, born more out of stubborn determination to put another bench mark in but really kidding myself it’s progress in my eyes! No Pain for Little Gain?

I mentioned the going to lie down on the grass the last of the sunny afternoons and how that couldn’t happen without a back arch to aid, this is the same for the position on the bike when on the bars the neck has to curve back to give you forward vision but more importantly feel free to achieve this posture.  This is the doubt the dark side that keeps creeping into to my mind and any future thoughts of being able to ride/race enjoy my riding as per pre-crash,  it is starting to wear me down a little but I keep pushing it back, Sundays are always hard to deal with, more so now as Backwoods side has suffered from the over covid-idiot use rendering a no go zone so I can’t even go up and immerse myself in trail creation, while the guys go shred, I deeply miss this part of my life. I decided to write to my surgeon as nobody has really given me a 100% categorical outcome as to range of movements I may achieve with the correct physio going forwards? What are the titanium rods function when say 6 months a year down the line and everything has healed up are they just a metallic passenger encapsulated in my body serving no structural purpose? Could I request the rods to be removed at a later date? Whilst Mark maintains the ever positive “We’ll get you there, there’s plenty more movement in those muscles yet” the doubt is still there niggling away and I have only questions and un-knowns currently. No Pain for Little Gain?

Week 11 – Weekend in, a walk this time seemed to be full of fatigue, but then I guess last week was busy by my standards. A few more local jobs then another full on physio session to look forward to I think before driving off to Guilford to help on a house renovation project.  A simple thing like a bathroom vinyl floor, De & Re-install of sink & loo and change bath taps, was all the pre-physio work out I needed a the start of this week. Mostly spent laying on my back trying to undo pipes and stuff left me shattered come 4.30pm.  After a shower some pain killers we thought we would go for a quick ride as it was still nice after the weekends down pours, who am I kidding it was the worse one yet didn’t make the distance as it was too uncomfortable so it was a shortened loop.

With a small overrun meant no rest Tuesday morning before Physio just after lunch so had time to grab brunch with Anita before heading off to get beaten up.  A quick posture overview and some movement range work, before getting stuck into those muscles and tendons, releasing all that pent up stiffness and toxins, I sure hope all this was helping the internal ambulance crews, still hard at work mending my body. This session was more painful than last weeks as he worked deeper into those stubborn muscles and tendons, a deep hug to crack and release the vertebrae again feeling very light headed after the session but again very loose, but you know it’ll be short lived as the morning I’ll be sore from the session. Touch base with wifey and off I set to Guilford with an impromptu stop to pay homage at the YT industries – the mill. Was really cool to get there and see the place the set up was really cool, bikes and merchandise and nice coffee shop area. Then off to my project and a night at a local premier inn Whooo-hoo I know how to parteeeey ! No Pain for Little Gain?    

The project and proposed week didn’t pan out as expected but once the other trades were put back on track, it was back on the road home, swinging past the bike park catching Stu, Phil busy working on tidying up the bike park lines. It was cool to catch up and explore a possible return to the shovels work permitting first and foremost , then home to surprise wifey and work on pulling in next weeks jobs and we went for another test ride on the bike, still street bound currently but again it’s still on those neck stops!! Aaaaaaaargh !!  Diet and exercise still on point but I must say some days I’m so tired after working the exercise suffers a little.  As the weekend kicked in we had a long walk in the fresh autumn sunshine, something that also seems to wear me out after time, so annoying from feeling super fit and really on top of my game to this another mental pressure being bottled up, but seeing my youngest always diverts any negative thoughts for those brief weekend moments.  Just chillin with wifey and Tate always a good tonic Saturday, Sunday we decided to go to the Bike Park and litter pick whilst the guys went on the normal Sunday ride. Being around the bike scene regardless is double edge sword because seeing some mates sending it and some coming through via their trail loops cuts deep into the emotional side of things as your not doing it, but also it’s just nice to be on the scene, more incentive to get back on it. No Pain for Little Gain?  

Week 12 or 3 months post-crash and post-surgery was always going to be a big mile stone and whatever way you write it seems a long time off the bike (riding properly / trails / DH / Racing) This mile stone apparently are when things are really on the mend and with another aggressive physio session on the anniversary you’d like to think you’d see massive gains. Again being immersed in it you don’t see those, but first comment from Mark the physio “well if I didn’t know you’d trashed your neck when you walked in here and I’d have to guess what had happened” Ever the positive is our Mark, but it meant a lot to hear and that’s down to the hard work and him beating me up weekly. Another painful session meant a few more days for the muscle groups to chill out but the proceeding days leading up to post surgery week 12 and into the weekend felt like a small corner had been turned, with those fears and anxieties about my neck never going to fully functional to let me ride the way I want to adjusted slightly with a hint of optimism thrown in for good measure. So my looking left and right is certainly less tensed up my gauge on that is driving, it’s feeling more natural and less forced. The same can be said now of resting my head on the floor it actually touches down now so I can do neck press-ups just lifting my head up and down off the floor controlled with no support. I wouldn’t say it’s 100% comfortable but from a few weeks ago when that seemed impossible it’s now happening.   More pointers that something is happening it’s not such a struggle to finish a drink now or shave under the neck these are my small bench marks of progression currently.  Sunday test rides now part of the recovery process now fuelled by the neck feeling more loose I was actually looking forward to see how it felt? The same 5km pathway river loop immediately it didn’t feel like my neck extension was pushing hard against the stops to the point my muscle groups following my spine tense up along with my shoulders and neck after a short time. Yes it was still being stubborn but more comfortable position wise at the same time feeling just a little less forced and held in a more natural riding position, the Left and right looks again not such hard work as they have been for sure so I’ll take this as a massive plus and Mark the physio thinks there is more range of movement to come as my lower back vertebra are all moving locked so yep you guessed it next Tuesdays physio session again is going to be aggressive in a good way. With the weeks now forming the new norm for me I hope as the weeks go on more defined progression can be seen and realised, if I was to be optimistic it would be a good goal to try a trail ride come the new year 2021 it’ll be a great way to start the year for sure .  No Pain for Little Gain?   

Week 13 unlucky for some –  So heading into a new week my main gauge being post neck surgery with the last of the aggressive physios (in my eyes) and a normal week with some work away and still buzzing from last week’s settling down after physio session my mind set was of now constant progression. Physio again was uncomfortable at best prodding, probing, stretching out stuff and that thing they do with the point of their elbows F…..K ! me that defiantly hits the spot, I’m sure my toes were curling whilst trying to take a deep relieving breath. Felt a really good session and more positive vibes from Mark and it was off down to Guilford once more, necked a few painkillers and anti-inflammatory and I was good to go.  Week flew past and I still fitting in some kinda away from home exercises on top of flooring works most evenings I was shattered, but as the week went on based on last week things eased off and I’d feel more loose and relaxed, come on please feel more loose and relaxed?  Throwing in a 10hour day fitting flooring perhaps wasn’t going to help but needs must more so with all this covid shit seemingly dictating peoples lives currently I was looking forward to getting home to wifey and chill for a weekend, although the M25 would play a strong part in prolonging that homewards bound journey.  I Still felt tight in the neck and again back in between the shoulder blades and with all the progress however small of late it didn’t feel right in my mind. “It’s been a more normal work week, aggressive physio perhaps it’ll take a while to settle” I kept telling myself but it really feels like it’s stopped again and the doubts are building once more and hasn’t dissipated over the weekend past Friday’s 13 week post-surgery millstone, in fact I was feeling worse!  Keep positive, keep positive, Saturday fitted all the TRX and neck exercises  in and settled for a chilled evening in, looking now pensively towards Sundays test ride after a nice sunny walk up the woods, bit of trail raking then home and ready for that spin, poor timing as I left it started to rain but as above the neck didn’t feel like it did last week peddling off down the estate roads , already the pressure on the muscle groups between the shoulder blades just seem to sap any positive enthusiasm about riding feeling free of pain, could only manage  a sorry 3k today it just didn’t feel great, my torso seems to be in a constant state of ache whether that’s connected to muscles or the operation to the spinal vertebrae who knows but 3 months + in now and it’s kinda wearing me down, just longing to feel normal inside, be able to take a deep breath and not feel discomfort, but it’s every day like a relentless shadow currently. Yes there has definitely been progress some who see me exclaim miraculous, unbelievable great words to here I just wish they’d take the discomfort away.    No Pain for Little Gain?