Keep Calm and Stretch On


I've come to the sad realization that my running career is over.

I’ve come to the sad realization that my running career is over.

Although I was enjoying the comeback, my ankles and knees were waging a soreness war against me. It wasn’t that nice, dull soreness of a job well done; it was the shooting and stabbing variety that wasn’t going away and would come back with the mere act of sitting for an extended period of time.

Sochokas and Sochovkas have a history of bad knees and ankles. I could just see the damage piling on my joints and decades of orthopedic surgeries that would put me in a wheel chair for the rest of my life. That may happen anyway, but I’m not about to speed things up.

Eight years of hard-paced 1500 to 2000 miles per year and a nasty barefoot waterskiing fall have taken their toll on my body, particularly on the left side. My chiropractor says that between the running, with the left leg almost constantly being lower than the right, and the destruction of my labrum (the rotator cuff’s cover) in the left shoulder, my left side is constantly misaligned with my right.

Since my Health Reimbursement Account doesn’t allow for daily chiropractic adjustments, I needed to come up with an alternative.

When I was in peak physical shape, I was doing yoga to try and stay more limber from the almost daily poundings I was giving myself, and it was helping. My wife’s friend, Debbie, started going to Bikram yoga and encouraged my wife, Sheryl, to attend the gentle, non-heated classes that were being offered. She was an instant fan and asked me to tag along.

I went to 1 gentle yoga class and got hooked. The postures felt good to get back into, but they belied the fact that I was physically asymmetrical and very rigid. Things have improved already in just the few weeks I’ve been back practicing, but it’s going to be a long road.

After 1 gentle class, I decided to give Bikram a try. The room is a tepid 115 degrees. There are 60- and 90-minute sessions, so, of course, I started with a 90-minute class. A Bikram session could burn 800 to 1200 calories, so into the furnace I joyously leap.

The gentle and meditation classes have their merits, too. It’s all about balance and meditation, and aromatherapy with essential oils nicely rounds out the practice. Kim, who teaches the gentle classes, says I’m so full of stress that it’s causing the rigidity. That explains the dry heaves before work and why my joints pop while I’m getting into and out of postures.

Breathing through my nose for 90 minutes is a challenge at this point. I didn’t just start out running marathons, so I don’t expect to be doing flawless postures. Slow and steady stretches the leg.

Jay Sochoka, RPh, bends so he doesn’t break.

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