Tuesday, April 19, 2016


So, this thing is still dragging on. I am much better in many ways, but I have a pinched nerve which is causing pain and numbness to radiate down my arm to my fingers. Occasionally - perhaps after sitting still for a long period of time - it can feel like someone punching me in the arm, painful enough to make me stop in my tracks, but then it subsides after a few seconds. It's rather like the nerve pain I started to get in my feet almost exactly 2 year's ago, due to the Morton's Neuroma, in the sense that the pain is probably worse than the damage itself. The difference in this case is that there is a chance that the nerve could become permanently damaged and you can't just have it removed (unlike the nerves between your toes) without serious consequences. I've been to see a "traumatologist" who wants to rule out the possibility that the nerve is being compressed by a slipped disc in my neck: this would be one of the worst outcomes and could require surgery. (She told me that she wasn't scared of surgery; I said I was.) So I am getting an MR scan this Friday.

In the meantime, I am seeing the physio once a week and she is prescribing me exercises to mobilize and strengthen certain areas. It's slow progress but it is progress. One of the exercises, for example, is something known as "nerve flossing" where you basically slide the nerve back and forth through its sheath. This has to be done in a range that doesn't cause pain (and therefore inflammation).

She also gave me a book about pain which I will probably read some time over the next two days, as I am going down to Málaga where my mum is having a fairly serious back operation. But the book is for me, not for her. It's interesting how pain works - the pain I am suffering from is not that extreme but it restricts me, and I associate it with certain movements and activities. Above all, it is frustrating. I haven't read the book yet, but I can imagine that the intensity of pain is not the only important aspect, but what it is associated with, how constant it is and what our attitude towards it is. I remember how I got a bit obsessed with the pain in my feet from the neuromas; now I can't remember the last time I felt it.

In terms of "proper" exercise, I am only really able to use the elliptic machine, without moving my arms. It's better than nothing, but it does make me dependent on the gym which I can only use during the working week. Right now, things are pretty difficult at work as there are severe cuts and many people will be made redundant. This is exactly the time when having an outlet like running is so valuable. Instead, I am finding myself going back to an old remedy: listening to music or, more precisely, my previous hobby of deejaying. In other news, my treadmill finally got fixed yesterday after almost 6 months. In the end, the rollers and the belt had to be replaced (on top of the already new board and springs). As the guarantee is up in a month's time, its probably just as well to have it renewed and, if my running continues at a lower intensity from now on, there's a chance it might last me a few more years yet. The custom made plywood running deck is much better than the one that came as standard, and is much less springy.

I've been using my Lumo Lift device every day at work and my sitting posture has improved noticeably. I'm wearing glasses which I can get away with not using, but they help me avoid craning my neck forward to read the small writing on my screens. I've also managed to get approval for a special chair at work which is more supportive, especially for the neck. My first focus is on correcting my "tech-neck" and then I will turn my attention to my Anterior Pelvic Tilt. Following a recommendation from my osteopath, I've bought a brace that helps hold my shoulders back, encouraging a more upright posture that will ultimately strengthen muscles in my neck and upper back. I noticed that there was a huge variety in designs so I initially had trouble choosing between them, until I had the idea of Googling for "shoulder brace running". I discovered that Alberto Salazar has his star runner - Galen Rupp - run with a shoulder brace that was actually designed for jockeys - the Equifit Shoulders Back. I'll let you know how I get on with that when it arrives.