Free at last

Until finding and practicing Intu-Flow® in 2006, I dealt with a large amount of back pain that often included searing pain down my leg.  It took about 5 months of daily practice, but that pain went away and has stayed gone.  Given all I’d tried to escape the pain and how many years it had been present, it still seems amazing and wonderful.

It didn’t stop there, though.  I’ve continued that daily practice, rarely missing a day since then.  Even on those rare occasions of not getting in a full session, I still do some piece of Intu-Flow®.  My leg was very weak initially, and there were some altered movement patterns, but slowly things improved.  It never fully recovered, but occasionally I would notice some new range of motion or gain in strength.

The back was a similar story.  It regained almost all of its strength, but regardless of what I did, I couldn’t seem to get deeper extension.  I’d lean back, reach a certain point, and my whole body would start shaking.

After years of trying to get beyond that point, yesterday it happened.  Did I find the problem while practicing Intu-Flow® or yoga?  Nope.  I found it while swinging Clubbell®s.  Technically I wasn’t swinging the Clubbell®s (I was doing the exercise unloaded), but it was still Clubbell® technique.

I watched the Encyclopedia of Clubbell® Training the night before to review all of the basics.  (After all, I’m “rebuilding” my knee after surgery earlier this year and want to do it right.)  By carefully going through each of the 7 key components and watching myself closely, it became obvious that hip snap was different from left to right.  Right was the side with the surgery, but the left was the one that lacked adequate snap.

Once upon a time I would have just put it off to the old back problems and went on, but I try to no longer limit myself by making excuses for anything that is less than optimal.  So I went a little slower without finding the problem; watched the DVD as slow as I could play it and imitated each motion; and there it was.  Coach Sonnon’s left leg muscles fired when mine didn’t.  I tried again and felt it “lock” my knee in a stable position, prevent the thigh from rotating out as much as it had been, and fully snap my hip.  I continued to work the motion with the unloaded Clubbell® technique and after a few minutes, something in my low back released.

You hear people talk about losing power through poor technique.  Until you experience how significant it can be, it is easy to wonder just how much power could be lost.  But yesterday, that small correction in technique once again drove home the change that is possible.  I’ve not swung a Clubbell® since December of last year.  I’ve used them with a floor routine for core stability and done some seated casts and presses, but the 20# Clubbell® 2-handed was the top of my skill.  Yesterday, after correcting the hip snap issue, the 20 felt different.

I worked my way up the weights until I did a 2-handed cleaned to torch with the bruiser (a 45# Clubbell® for those not familiar with RMAX®).  There is no way my strength increased that much in a single week.  What that really means is that there was a ton of strength I wasn’t accessing purely because of poor technique.

Oh, and the back extension I’ve been working on since 2006?  If I don’t engage the leg it is the same stopping point and the shakes, but if I engage it, I can keep going for another 20 degrees. Intu-Flow® was different this morning, and I can go deeper into a one-legged squat without any knee discomfort (on either knee) than I ever remember doing.

There is irony in yesterday’s improvement.  On Saturday I was whining about how much it sucks that, until sometime between August and October, I can’t do anything that causes the knee to experience impact…no tennis, no basketball, no baseball, no jumping, no running, etc.  Everything is a slow rebuild of strength while the new cartilage hardens until it can handle impact.  But without that limitation, I would have powered through instead of working to find the issue and discovering something that has been holding me back for years.

What shackles in your life are really opportunities for self-improvement and growth?

Until next time, may the choices you make and the actions you take today, created a healthier “you” tomorrow.

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