Monday, May 15, 2006

2005-10-02 002Aren't newspapers great?

Not only do they provide handy websites to browse when I should be working (do I care about X*? Should I? Well, there's an article to read on it, and it's not work, so...), but they produce informative guides to back exercise (along with an article which claims chiropracty and osteopathy are just charlatanism where the sole benefit is the human contact [Read it, as without it this post makes even less sense]).

* I was going to pick a headline from the Guardian's frontpage today, except I realised I vaguely do care about most things, except sport (and Water Butts for £43.98), and it's just churlish to pick "England Manager Scottish Name Shock" or something similar (was he the one in the Sex Pistols? Do I mean the Sex Pistols?).

Of course, given a guide, what do I do? Strangely read the thing, even though it may tell me how to do something, but because it doesn't say "instructions" above an incomplete series of badly labelled diagrams, I'm not compelled to ignore it. And by read, I mean the traditional response for any set of instructions, which is to read each bit once, do that section, and then move on, until you discover it wants eggs and you haven't got any eggs, and it's a Sunday evening, and er, I'm sure it won't matter.

So the first one, something call Cat Curls (which presumably are what spasm afflicted builders do when anything remotely female walks past). It wants me to make a box (do you want some fish as well? I can do big and little), on hands and knees, with shoulder-wrist and hip-knee straight. My back should now be flat.

Um, are we talking comedic Black-and-Decker advert flat here? The before shelves where they only just save the goldfish bowl in time? Because, and this might mark me out as a freak, strangely my arms aren't the same length as my thighs. I know it's a bit of an odd thing, but surely they can't expect every reader of their website to have standard Berliner adapted arms?

Straight-ish maybe, but not flat. Not unless they redefine vertical.

First it wants you to cat and cow away until the cats come home (which is obviously far later than when the cows do. Cows traipse in at dusk, ploddingly habitual; cats saunter back occasionally to see if you've bought a replacement yet). Then it wants you impersonate a compass by sticking opposing limbs in opposing directions. Which was fine, except it was fine, and it's a stretching excercise, so if it feels fine then that sort of means I've done something wrong.

For added fun it suggests closing your eyes, which tests your balance. For added fun I say complete the Superman effect (and you can imagine yourself as Reeve, The-other-one or The-latest-one) by raising your arm and your leg on the same side, which also tests your balance.

Next comes the Wall Rolls, which somehow makes me think vanilla ice cream wrapped in curiously inert sponge (to the non-UK people, it was a dessert, called an Artic Roll, being a bit like a Swiss Roll, but frozen; it was considered a treat in the days before people discovered the heady sosphication of Viennetta (which shares as much connection with Vienna as Londis does with London*). Basically imagine lagged ice cream and you'll be about there). But instead it's just like one of those excercises a doctor told me to do when I was younger, which I did, slightly haphazardly for a fortnight and then forgot. It's easier if you have a genuine wall available, rather than a wobbling wardrobe.

*Please don't point out that Londis comes from London Distribution Services or some such. You'll only ruin it for the others.

I am concerned by the mention of "taking at least four counts down", as I'm not sure we've got enough to spare if everyone takes up these exercises (although maybe that's the point; it is the Guardian, after all). Will Earls do?

Seriously, I've never liked the notion of timing excercise. Probably because I have no rhythm, get bored and lose count if I'm counting, or forget to start the stopwatch if I'm not. But they haven't mentioned timing until slinging it in in this by-the-way manner.

And sticking points? I guess I'm lucky to have so few. Well, it is mostly one big one, which I'm pretending is not the early symptoms of some horrific heridetary bone disease (especially not as my grandfather had an HBD, possibly with the first H), much prefering to think of it as an indicator that I haven't been swimming since Greece; a situation I really ought to do something about, much like my "do I still have an NHS doctor?" and "My NHS dentist retired and the replacement sent me a letter setting out her private charges" status.

Seated Back Press, which is a variation of the Gutenberg technique. I'm fine until "about 110 degrees". So I'm supposed to be sitting upright on the edge of a chair, and lean back 110 degrees? Am I supposed to be sitting back to front? I think the chair may fall over. Nope, it definitely says lean back until I touch the back of the chair, which should be about 110 degrees. What, Farenheit?

You know when I mentioned them redefining vertical? Maybe I'm being daft. Maybe it's 110 from straight down, except they do mention it's a high backed chair, so it's unlikely to be 20 degrees above the horizontal (not unless the seat is very deep, and one's back very long). I'm guessing they mean a bit beyond halfway between vertical and horizontal, which if there are 720 degrees in a circle would be about 110, or about 55 degrees for us weird a-mile-a-minute folk.

But leaving that one before I notice how much my stomach muscles are trembling, the next is Lower Lumbar Back Stretch. First, find youself a bigger house. Lean with your back flat against a wall (or wardrobe). Raise both arms and put them against the wall. Now try to put your back flat against the wall. Now your arms again. Well done, you've discovered leverage.

Ok, maybe you're supposed to bring your arms up from the side, so they go round the end of the collar bone rather than in front of it. Except now I can't get them straight up (but the left wasn't fully back as there's a wall in the way).

Try again. Still no good. Back or arms, not both. Have I got bizarrely recessed shoulder joints or has the writer fallen of a horse one too many times? I refuse to believe it's me, having recently been asked by someone who was complaing about a yoga class if I could touch my ear lobe with my other hand, going round the back of my head. Apparently this is supposed to be hard, and apparently being able to get your hand back round your chin counts as showing off.

So either I put my arms up and back so pushing my shoulder blades out as a pivot, or I have them flat-ish against the wall but not over my head. I settle for straight up and having my fingers touching the wall.

And now to lean. It says gentle, but it's not doing anything apart from make one very small area of my stomach muscles hurt on the compression side (ok, so it hurts in the same place when I lean the other way. God knows what I've done). Try going further but met the flanking wall, and the other way runs out of supporting wardrobe. At this rate I've have to go and do it on the stairs as it's the only bit of unobstructed wall.

Then comes Lying Side Rotation. It says lying. I'm guessing that needs floor. Er, well give me half a day to shift the washing racks, folders, ex-flatmate's yet-to-be-reclaimed possessions, furniture and oh, I've found some wine, and then I'll lie and make snow angels in the dust of the carpet. As the thing sounds like skiing but lying on your back, I might skip it for the time being.

After that Cardio....

Yeah right.

And if I'm going to be doing all this, then I probably should start using that wrist-spinny-ball-thing again to work on my arms (by again, I should point out the last attempt only confirmed that I have a natural righthandedness when it comes to wrist action, and so to avoid looking like a fiddler crab, I slightly stopped using it). But I really don't feel like it, and surely wearing out a keyboard counts as sufficient excerise (even if my shoulders currently ache, for which I blame over zealous wall rolls)? Who's up for realising how much I need to get through this summer, so shorts use is going to be minimal, thus I needn't worry about calves which have finally lost all trace of living in Exeter?

Oh, it's quite late, and this isn't the post I thought it was going to be.


PS. Apol's for lack of spellcheckery, but my computer apparently doesn't have enough space left to run Word. Time to take to the hamster's eggbox I think.

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