Getting flexible on the road to recovery

Jeff Martin

Recovery Road. Not exactly the road I intended to be on…

My goal was simple, I hit 50, my beautiful wife bought me a Cervelo and I was determined to get back on the road. I set my mind to it and began to enjoy my solo rides in the East. Tired of being pulled-up by speedy pelotons (and the odd 20-something Singapore girl), I could only fake mechanicals so many times. I got up enough courage (and fitness) to hit the Saturday morning rides with the ANZA gang.

I was anxious at first, but the group quickly put me at ease and that first stop at Coffee Bean was bitter sweet. Loved the coffee, but legs and lungs needed the rest.
I was determined to get better and over the weeks, the 5:30 am wake up became a much-welcomed part of the week. Thanks to ANZA cycling and my Cervelo…
At a different post-morning-Kranji and coffee, the chat was about the Tour de Bintan. Excited by the idea and my desire to see how I could fair in a real road race, I enlisted, and set to training. 12-weeks of serious training and I set down nervously on the start line of Stage 1, Tour de Bintan.

Everything I was told about the event was true. It was hot, hard, and once dropped by the peloton, a suffer-fest of pain and grueling kilometers. That aside, I thoroughly enjoyed the experience of riding in a big peloton and pushing myself.
I managed to qualify for Sunday and determined to complete the entire event; I bagged my 10-Ibuprofen (in 3 hours) and completed the 107 km second stage.
Then I hit that road…the recovery one.

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The aged-athlete in me denied what was a fairly serious injury. It was actually well in place after that Saturday, but I just didn’t know it. Following Bintan, I rested for a solid 2-weeks, got my bike refitted, and purchased insoles ($190). The next week, I set out on a Kranji-32. Felt pretty good for the first 30 km, but at 50 km, I was off the bike and in a taxi. Bummed that I had a confirmed injury, but more concerned there was something serious going on in my knee/s.

BTW, thanks to the two ANZA riders who stopped to see how I was.
The symptoms were varied from serious limping, after a long stint in the chair, to terrible pain bending my knees and silly things, like pulling on pants was painful because I had to bend my knees, which involved the calves flexing.

A fellow Kranji rider noticed that I was quite the “masher”. I recognized this as my toes pointed style. After 50 years, I, in no way, realized how much I had relied on my calves. Combine that with some serious neglect in hot-yoga and I was out with injured calves (or Gastrocs). Not torn, but the combination of masking the pain with the 10-Ibu’s and the increase in distance over 2-days, meant they were so knotted that it was affecting my daily life.

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I self-diagnosed with Google, went to the doctor, and ended up with a senior physio at Changi General- a lovely British girl.
We have been hanging out once a week for about 7 weeks. We worked through my major issues of inflexibility [which I believe is the root of my injury]. Determined to lengthen my calves, I followed her stretching routines. The injuries settled down after a month and I was noticeably more flexible. She was able to find the trigger points and she began to release the knots in my calves.

That first time she applied the trigger-point pressure, it was extreme. I had never had tears in my eyes before that day. The therapy was working, but wow, it was deep. In the past two-sessions I have spent 20-25 minutes on the recumbent and we have begun to retrain my pedal stroke. I have changed how I walk up stairs, inviting the Gluteus and focusing on toes up and much less calves. Less calf more butt.

Last weekend I took my two-year old on our first long-awaited Saturday ride at East Coast. Loved being back on the mountain bike, but also learned that being clipped in affects the calves more than just pushing on the recumbent at the clinic.
I managed to focus on my pedal stroke and did about 10 km with my toddler. Happy Days…

Tomorrow is Saturday, Jan. 31, twelve weeks after Bintan. I have been on my Cervelo once since Bintan. As I think about you heading out to Kranji or Changi, I am envious. I miss the rides, the routine, the fitness, and the good chats on the road. My Sunday ride and coffee with Richard is long over due.

Being 50 has taught me that old dogs can learn new tricks. I am on the mend and never been more itchy to get on my bike. Patience is my new best friend, but so are my morning stretches and the weekly trips to the physio.
Stay healthy and don’t ignore the importance of being able to touch your toes.
Old Dog…

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  • Jeff is Canadian and been a member since September 2014.
  • First race-Tour de Bintan 2014.
  • Prep for the race: 12-weeks.
  • Injured: 12-weeks and counting.
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