To train or not to train?

This is a question that I never normally ask; the only real option is to get on the bike. However, having spent the last few days of 2015 almost fully bedridden due to a bad back, I’ve been forced to reflect on how hugely important the question on whether to train or to rest can be. In serious cases the answer can determine how the rest of the season plays out. Not to mention some of the funky recovery exercises and treatments the physio recommends.

It is rare to ever be without some sort of injury, so at first the niggle in my back was like any other twinge; I chose to ignore it and hoped it’d go away by itself. Personally I find nine times out of ten that most of these pains, niggles and twinges are nothing to worry about and training through any pain is the best option. I employed this school of thought over the week running up to Christmas, but after a fairly routine run on Christmas Eve I reached the point where it was already too late. Doing a full days hike on Christmas Day didn’t help either and the pain became almost unbearable. Looking back, the hike probably wasn’t wise…

So for once, the question on whether to train was completely taken out of my hands; I could barely walk, let alone run or cycle. I really should have considered having a rest once the pain started, however, in my experience the only time you truly know the right thing to do is when it is already too late and you should have stopped a while ago. Ho hum. In an ideal world I’d have a specialist on hand around the clock to diagnose and decide for me. Alas, medical bills are expensive and I, like many athletes, have to pick and choose which ailments need closer inspection.

With it being Christmas there wasn’t a lot I could do with regards to seeing a professional so I spent the next few days flat on my back, reading and sleeping uncomfortably. Finally the physio’s doors opened up again and I made a (very slow) bee line for them. After the usual chat and prodding to diagnose the issue the physio delivered what he thought was the best course of action… Dry Needle Trigger Therapy. Yes, it’s exactly what you think it is.

Now, I’ve never had this before and I’m not averse to trying out new things so I thought why not. I felt relaxed right up until he pulled out an 80mm needle, shoved it in my hip flexor and wiggled it around. Apart from it feeling like someone was reaching inside my body and yanking on my insides it was strangely enjoyable and I felt an instant relaxing of my muscles. Afterwards, it felt like Mike Tyson had been allowed to go ten rounds on my back, glutes and hip flexors. I’ve got two more of these exciting appointments to go and, whilst I’m still whimpering slightly from the treatment as I type this, I’m already looking forward to my next appointment. Anything to get back to training sooner! Not to mention having a good back before I get on a plane for a dreaded 24 hours…

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