Cool, the amputee driving/travel tips worked!

Back in August (here) I blogged about a few things you can do while driving long distances to stretch your stump out on a road trip. The weekend before last Wifey and I jumped out into the far north to catch up with my little brother Tank and his lovely wife Meru, and while the drive was a good 4 and a half hours either way, I didn’t have much of a problem with the trip, which was great. While using the cruise control certainly helped (as did the liberal doses of Cheap Trick and Tears for Fears courtesy of Wifey’s iPod), taking a moment every half hour or so to gently stretch the stump made a huge difference. We also had a break half-way through the trip to grab a coffee and stretch our respective leg(s) which was good too.

If you’re interested in reading up on what I’ve done in the past to alleviate some of the aches you get whilst driving for an extended period of time, feel free to to check out the post in question – I’m not sure how helpful it’ll be for other amputees, but I thought it might prove useful to someone else out there apart from me!

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Amputee country driving

Wifey and I took a trip to the country to escape from things for a few days recently. It’s been a few years since we last jumped out that way, and it’s definitely been the first time in a while (and possibly since starting this blog) since I’ve spent a couple of hours at the wheel driving in a single hit.

Mind, the drive wasn’t too shabby at all – Wifey and I loaded the car up with tragic 80s tunes (bad habit, tragic 80s seems to suit country driving :)), so it was good fun 🙂 I did find though, rolling towards the end of trip, that my stump was getting a bit grumpy from sitting still for so long (probably didn’t help that we went straight from work, and I’d been sitting on my arse at work for about 8 hours before we headed out!). The angry muscles were along the base of the stump, my left hip and a little higher into the waist – it was nothing serious mind, but it was definitely there.

Anywho, this presented an issue – how do you stretch the stump out when it’s held inside an airtight socket, and there’s not exactly a whole lot you can do with your prosthesis when you’re driving!

What I ended up doing was clenching/flexing the muscles around my stump to start with, tilted my hips slowly left and right, and then gently twisted my stump to the left and right in the socket. Wasn’t much, but it did the job and took the strain off the muscles.

I think the reason it worked was because while the motions weren’t that big, they involved stretching the muscles relatively deeply from a restricted sitting position; the restricted position meant that the body didn’t have the ability to move with the motions, so they were all built on resisting other muscles.

… or at least I think that’s the theory behind it 😉 I’m sure those more in the know with muscles/physiology/anatomy will not only be able to dispute my theory, but possibly say I’m doing the wrong thing too! 🙂

Mind, I also might have described things really badly too 😉 Still, for other amputees involved with road trip or country driving, the above might prove useful!

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Archive: Stretchy legs

Source: Gisoku no Jutsu
Original post date: 8 May, 2007

All is going well with all my random injuries – my stump is looking better than it has in weeks, and my ankle is feeling great; I get a bit of a dull throbbig pain once in a while, but it’s doing really well. I’m aiming to do a weights session tonight to get me back into the routine, and will be training on Wednesday night providing I don’t do anything stupid between now and then. Hamez is taking a break from soccer for a couple of weeks, so I’ll be taking him along with me, and Tank might be able to make it, also. I’m really looking forward to it, this’ll make it ~2 months since last training.

In stretchy leg news, for some reason my muscles were sore yesterday 😛 The only thing I can think of is that Tank and I were doing some shonky backyard cricket on Sunday morning as Wifey and I headed over to Mum and Dad’s for brekkie/morning tea/eat fest. Given backyard cricket is generally as low impact as it comes, I can’t see that being an issue. Mind you, it possibly didn’t help that I kept on kicking the ball with my foot and instead of knocking it with the cricket bat, Segata Sanshiro style:


*Ahem* Anyway, the point is, shonky backyard cricket should not have resulted in my legs being sore. The only thing I can think is that maybe I stretched a bit too far on Sunday night. Regardless, I’m continuing my stretching routine, probably every second night or so, maybe a little more frequently. It’s the same routine we do in karate… kinda – I don’t spend any time stretching my left leg much, since there’s not much there to stretch 😛 I can’t remember if I went through it before, so here it is for all to consider:

  • Shake the legs about a bit to get the blood flowing, then fall gently into the side splits, getting down to the point of slight discomfort and hold it. 30 seconds is supposed to be optimal, I generally lose track of time so I’m probably sitting there like a dufus for a few minutes 😛
  • Shift your weight and do the straight splits, right leg in front, and get down as low as possible and hold it. Again, 30 seconds I think is optimal, but I lose track of time. Damn telly 😛 If you have two legs, feel free to reverse the position to stretch out your left leg
  • Settle back into the side splits, getting lower and hold your balance on your heels, steadying yourself on your hands (or in my case, knuckles – helps condition them). I read up that the point with this is to keep your hips at an angle and nto vertical, as the former is its natural position. By this point, I can normally do the full side splits with a bit of effort
  • I don’t know the name for the next stretch – I face forward wit my front (right) leg bent so you’re almost kneeling, with my other leg behind my for support. Stretches the groin and inner-thigh I think. Hold it for 30 seconds or more to avoid random injuries to your groin muscle
  • Finally, return to the side splits and pop yourself down as far as you can go without causing yourself an injury. If for any reason I haven’t managed to do the side splits up until this point, I’ll generally pull it off here

After I’ve done my leg stretches like that, I’ll do 15+ leg lifts front, side then back. Once all that’s done, my leg(s) are generally feeling pretty stretchy and stuff – last night after I did all the above I went and took the wheely bins out for ccollection this morning, and on the way back to our place I started practicing random kicks. You know, crazy flash of inspiration and all that. I want to be able to do two snap kicks in a single strike – lift the leg, strike once (waist), strike two (head), return the leg to the ground. I’m working on something similar with my fake leg, not sure how it’s going to go. If I can develop it, the idea would be a series of two double-strike kicks in succession – double-strike kick with right leg, double strike with left leg. Not sure how practical it would be, but I like the challenge. Once my ankle’s better, I’ll get started on working on the tornado kick and (reverse) butterfly kick. I’m referring to the latter as a ‘reverse’ butterfly kick as I can’t launch off my left leg because, well, there’s no ankle or knee to facilitate it 🙂 I could try, but the best I could achieve as falling over. So I’ll have to see if I can develop it to jump off the right leg; granted, I’ll still fall over, but at least I’ll be able to fall over a little further along 🙂

Oh, you’ve probably noticed that the main page’s layout has been updated. I’m really happy with the result, it came out better than I expected. I’ll be updating the blog’s layout soon as well. I’m just happy that my coding wasn’t too shonky – thankfully, there’s a stack of info on the web when it comes to learning CSS.

I’ll post an update later in the week, hopefully this time with some karate training news. Can’t wait 🙂

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Archive: Blog 1-2. Player 1 Start

Source: Gisoku no Jutsu
Original post date: 12 April, 2007

Okay, I’m off to actually delivering on my aim to blog like crazy this week! Today I thought I’d touch on my stretching regime, what I’ve found out, and about these new kicks I’m trying to learn!

Okay, first thing’s first – stretching. The big thing that gets bandied about in martial arts circles/the general public is the ability to do the splits, whether they be front splits or, more dramatically, side splits (aka ‘Chinese splits’). So, with my previous style of socket on my fake leg, I could do the full side splits and front splits, but since moving to the different style of socket last year (as well as having 12 months off from training :P), things got more difficult – the way in which the new socket holds onto my leg gives my stump less movement within the socket itself (which is a good thing – less stress on the skin), which means it places more stress on my tendons/muscles/what-not when I stretch; to summise it simply, it means I can’t get away with being able to stretch as easily as I used to.

Anywho, when I first started doing karate I was determined to be able to do the splits, so at least five nights a week I’d take the time to go through our leg-stretching routine we did at karate, and after about 2 months, I could do the full splits (yay!). Despite the fact I’ve had only limited time to train over the last 5 weeks, I’ve been trying to make time to at least work on my flexibility. I’ve been working hard on pushing my body, and I’m stoked to say that I’m almost at the point of being able to do full side and front splits! While some may question the utility of this style of stretching (I’ll get into that below), I’m finding that it helps strengthen my legs and relaxes the muscles in my real leg, and is helping take pressure off the knee as a general rule of thumb; I feel stronger and more in control when I walk, which is in and of itself an awesome thing.

Now, in the pursuit of information (as you do – I’m a librarian after all), I started looking up ways in which to increase power and flexibility in kicks, and I found out about these different types of stretching, at first via Wikipedia, then by a handful of other great websites. It turns out that while the splits is beneficial to flexibility, it isn’t the most efficient way of stretching for the purpose of kicking, for example; this is much better developed by Dynamic Stretching. I found another great website that I can’t find the URL of that contained a massive amount of info on the entire subject of stretching, which then got me onto reading up some more on the best way to achieve the best kicks in martial arts, and all of them pointed to Dynamic Stretching. In the case or martial arts, it appears that simple leg lifts are the best way to achieve real flexibility and strength in your kicking technique. The gear I’ve read recommends performing front, side and back leg lifts as high as you can go, gradually increasing the height as you go conservatively – obviously you don’t want to overdo it until your legs are ready, or else you’ll do some serious damage.

The reason this is deemed effective appears to be owing to two points – number one, because you’re using your leg in a kick-like manner, it is re-enforcing the stretching movement as directly related to the act of kicking; it is developing neuro-muscular coordination. Secondly, doing leg lifts can actually be more beneficial in preventing injury should you be suddenly placed in a scenario where you need to use the technique to defend yourself, as the dynamic nature is apparently better at prepping your muslces/tendons/etc for spontaneous action that static stretching doesn’t employ. Or something like that. Some of what I’ve read notes that by doing dynamic stretches for 8 weeks (I’m assuming maybe five times a week or more for only 5 minutes or so for each session?), you can achieve the extent of what your body is capable of.

As always, the proof’s in the pudding, or in this case, kick – I’ve done combination split stretching + leg lifts in all four directions over the past week, then tried a couple of kicks – the results were certainly evident. I was kicking higher and with more control and power than I have in a while, and I’m going to make it part of my stretching routine to add these in, and I’ll also be sure to do extra leg lifts before class each week. Since I need to hold onto something to balance while I do the leg lifts, I can’t really partake during class when I’m lined up with all the other karateka, so I’ll take the time to balance myself against the wall prior to class and get started. It is very awesome 🙂

I mentioned some techniques I’ve decided to study. Now, they may not necessarily be the world’s most effective techniques, but they test your form, strength and agility… plus they look cool, and appear to be pretty tricky for people with two legs, let alone someone with only one… so I’m taking it as a challenge 🙂 The first move I’ve decided to tackle is the modern Wushu technique that most people refer to as a Butterfly Kick; click the link and you’ll see a happy animated GIF file showing an awesome one being performed in motion (there are some good ones on YouTube though – I’ll post them in a later blog). The technique requires the martial artist to jump and spin the body with kicks from each leg while the body is kept almost parallel to the ground, then land facing the same direction you were when you started the technique. The tricky bit (well, aside from the inherent trickiness :P) is that the technique appears to require you to leap from your left leg in everything I’ve read on it – since I have the equivalent of a pole instead of a functioning leg on my left, I’m going to have to learn how use my right leg and work on the torque, control and leaping high enough. Since I want to avoid a serious injury, methinks I’ll work on it where I can safely land on a padded surface 🙂

The Tornado Kick is probably a bit more realistic to achieve – it involves spinning your body 540 or 360 degrees to launch a round kick that uses the momentum/force of the action to deliver a powerful strike. The Wikipedia article’s a little light on images, but there’s a great vid on YouTube showing someone demonstrating the technique from a Taekwondo background:

Hopefully that one worked 😛 My HTML is still a little dodgy, so I hoped that all went in ok! So yeah, that’s the other technique I’m working on.

That pretty much covers the kick/new technique side of things (hopefully that helped Renato!) – I’ll post something up tomorrow, either some comments on martial arts movies, or some YouTube/Google Video stuff.

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