Friday, 5 September 2014

Kinesiotape - 'back' on track!!

Many moons ago, back in the mists of time, in my Karate days, I injured my lower back in a warm up and suffered a massive back spasm, which comes back to haunt me every few years.  After years of trying to live with the pain and whilst a blue belt, I was finally referred to a physio, who gave me some very effective rehab exercises to use with Theraband bands which helped me immensely, exercises I still use today.

However, in February, I was meeting one of my old students in London and was getting the Tube, with my training bag over my shoulder and two large bottles of water moving around in the bag, causing the bag to move from side to side as I walked.

As I steped onto the Tube and put my bag on the floor, BAM! A full on, balls-to-the-wall back spasm, that dropped me to the floor in an instant, leaving me a twitching heap on the floor and all at rush hour.  

As Dirty Harry would say, 'swell.'

I managed to hobble out of the station to meet my friend and took the BJJ class which helped ease the muscles, but I was all twisted up from the spasm, drawing a crowd around me in the changing rooms it was that bad and since then, I've suffered with an extremely tight lower back and constant pain.  

A super stiff back, further exacerbated by working long hours on the doors at the weekend, leaving me unable to move, once I'd finally managed to get in my car and sit down; I also suffer with tight hip flexors, which is common in BJJ players from being in guard a lot and coaching from this position.  Add to the pot tight hamstrings and it's curtains for my poor lower back.

I've been able to teach and train in this time albeit not 100%, I can't run round the mats because of the tightness and pain and during rolling, if anyone mounted me, it's very hard to bridge and escape due to the tightness in my back.  Standing up after sitting down for any length of time was a torturous procedure and basically my life has been filled with cursing, bad moods and consuming my own body weight in painkillers whilst at work.  Not a great way to be to be honest.

There would be days when the pain and stiffness wasn't that bad and all thoughts of going to see a therapist went out of the window and the next thing you know, it's September and I've finally got my arse into gear and gone to see someone for a full overhaul on my back.

I didn't need a long assessment as my therapist Sanna took one look at my back and said 'yep, your lower back looks REAL tight!'  I've had many deep tissue massages and none of them have been a fun experience, but it was my body really needed so I lay on the mat, gritted my teeth and cursed away like there was no tomorrow.

I received the full works.  I gave Sanna the background on the injury, working long hours on my feet and no mercy was spared, deep tissue massage was exactly what I received on a grand scale. It hurt like hell, more torture than therapy, as she really went to work in a bid to loosen up a horrendously tight lower back and glutes.  After what seemed like an eternity on my stomach, I moved onto my back and work began on my hip flexors, which was a pretty gruesome affair, with much pain and copious amounts of profanities involved.

After the massage, a number of medieval deep stretches ended the session; the ordeal was over and I made my way to the shower to remove the oils on my skin, so I could be taped up.  Sitting up off the table I could feel immediate relief and walking over to the shower, there was an absence of tightness I hadn't felt since before the back spasm. 


After the shower, all that remained was the taping and in a few minutes the tape was applied and a few exercises were shown for me to use on my foam roller and baseball, to help stretch my lower back and to release the tension in my glutes.
The applied Kinesiotape
Kinesio tape is a thin and highly elastic therapeutic tape that is applied to dry skin and has can be applied all over the body; it can help improve posture, pain, muscle activity and helps speed up the healing up process and usually stays on for five days at a time.  The tape was applied on my back to help lengthen the muscles along the spine and to lift the skin up slightly to create space and allow blood flow into the lower back and aid mobility there.

I had my treatment yesterday and today I am walking around like a new man; there's no tightness upon getting out of bed and standing up, as well as when I get up from a sitting position.  I am not dreading the thought of going to work and standing in pain all night, so I am confident the tape will help me posturally over the weekend. The deep tissue massage and stretches definitely helped and although there's still a way to go before I get my lumbar curve back, I am pain free for the first time in months and eager to get back on the mats and start kicking ass again.

If any readers are injured right now, go and see a therapist! Don't put it off, think of it as money invested wisely, the body is the ultimate piece of engineering; you wouldn't drive a Ferrari into the ground, so don't do the same to your body, it's got to get you through the rest of your days both on and off the mats.

As Mas Oyama, the legendary and fearsome Karate master once said, 'a sickly body is of benefit to no one.'

On a final note, as I wrote this piece, I find myself hobbling about after reigniting an old foot injury, after rolling on Monday with a black belt.  You get one long standing injury on the right tracks only for another one to make an unannounced and unwelcome appearance.

Gotta love Jiu Jitsu!! have locations around London, I attended their Wimbledon venue and ask for Sanna.

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