You might have noticed in the sidebar an ad for Trigger Point massage products. I’ve been suffering with lower back problems for well over six months. It’s the typical scenario: sitting in a chair, dragging luggage through an airport, traveling and being bent over in a road cycling position. All of these factors add up to a potential back problem. My injury dates back to my early 20′s with a herniated disc in my spine due to an injury. Being younger, I bounced back from that, but I knew that my back was always going to be a weak spot. Then about six months ago all the travel, sitting at a desk and riding different bikes with slightly different set-ups finally caught up with me. I started to get an intense stabbing pain in my lower back. My health insurance was a HMO and they told me what I knew they would say: rest (no bike riding) and stretch. However that really didn’t work. I still had to travel, ride and sit at a desk for long hours. And as much as I like vicodin, I knew that wasn’t a long-term fix. I went to a chiropractor which helped. She was a runner and knew that I couldn’t just stop riding because that was part of my job. Massage would help as did the Contour electrostim belt. But it wasn’t till the Tour of Missouri that I finally got some sound advice.
The nice thing about the big American stage races is that the teams bring their doctors with them. While the doctors are kept busy with their respective teams, if you time your question when they have a moment, they’ll give you some sound, free medical advice. By the time the Tour of Missouri was in it’s fifth day, my back was hurting and I needed some medical advice! As I stood around the Garmin team bus waiting for interviews, Allen Lim, who until just recently was working with Garmin, was getting bottles and ice vests ready for the time trial. I have known Allen for awhile so I told him about my lower back pain. He reached into his bag of tricks, pulled out the Trigger Point massage ball and forcefully rolled it around in the area of my pain. I tried to relax into the massage as Lim pushed and rolled the palm sized ball deeper into my back muscle. The muscle relaxed and it actually felt better! However that was just temporary relief and the pain returned as I continued to travel, schlep through airports and sit at a desk.
Fast forward several months and the pain was getting worse. It radiated down my leg like a live electrical charge. Walking was painful and standing excruciating. Being on the bike was pain free, however I couldn’t be on the bike my whole life. I needed relief and was seriously considering taking whatever time I needed off the bike to fix this nagging back problem. I remembered that Allen had used the Trigger Point massage ball on my back in Missouri so I ordered the Starter Kit. I have been using the massage ball and the supplied Footballer for over a month with great results! Not only has it been helping with my back, but I’ve been using it for post-ride massage as well. After the Winter League Ride, an almost four hour ride, I use the massage ball on my lower back and roll the Footballer along my calves for muscle relief. Next I’m going to order the Quadballer. I should have just gone for the Total Body Package in my first order. Additionally I have been going to an acupuncturist, which is something I never thought I would do. My new riding partner is a chiropractor who has offered free adjustments, which I am going to take him up on. I feel like there is light at the end of the pain tunnel. While I do believe that all these treatments have been a factor in my on-going recovery, I know I need to be constantly aware of how I am treating my back. As I write this, I am sitting upright at my desk with the Trigger Point massage ball pushed into my lower back, working the muscle. I will continue to stretch and have placed two Specialized Varus wedges into my left shoe to give me a three millimeter lift as I feel the leg is over extended. Here’s hoping for a pain free 2010!