August 7th, 2005

Brian and Anne

(no subject)

Had fun at Chuck's party last night but paid for it today - we stayed up until about 3:30 and I woke up at my usual 6 am and couldn't get back to sleep. At least that let me go to Tai Chi down at the cube for the second day in a row. (Saturdays and Sundays 8:30-10 am if you want to try it. Free.) a three-hour nap after lunch seems to have set me back to functional.

I seem to be past the really painful sore back and abdomen period that intensive workouts left me in Thursday through Saturday, and I can feel my ankle and shoulder getting stronger. My tai chi instructor (who has a degree in kinesiology) suggested it's been long enough since the ankle injury that I can push it hard as long as I stick to No Impact activities, such as tai chi and biking. He also gave me some advice on stretching it (right now I can't point my left toe as far as my right toe) and explained how to work around the myotactic (or myotatic) stretch reflex - a reflex controlled by the spinal chord that causes muscles to contract when stretched. He says it gets more active to protect injuries. The way to slowly cause that relfex to relax is to contract the muscle in the opposite direction from the stretch for a period, and then relax - doing a sequence of that and stretching farther each time. My sister had learned this in yoga and taught it to me for stretching arms and legs but it hadn't occurred to me to apply it on my foot.

(If that doesn't make sense, try this exercise to demonstrate it: Get near a wall or corner you can brace your arm against. Hold your arm horizontally out to the side, then swing it horizontally back to stretch it as far back as it will comfortably go. Now brace that hand on the wall and push *forward* with that arm for a sustained period (gently but firmly). Then release that pressure, relax and turn your body to stretch the arm farther back, just as far as is comfortable. Repeat and you may be surprised how far back your arm can go.)