I became interested in my health a couple of weeks ago when I heard about the “b(l)eep test”. The beep test is a progressive running exercise, where your pace is timed by audible beeps, typically from a CD recording. I downloaded one from Youtube.
The beep test is designed to measure your VO2max, which is the maximum volume of oxygen that your body can use. Basically, it’s a test of cardiovascular fitness.
The beep test has a score, consisting of a stage and a level within a stage. Tables exist to look up the VO2max from the score. There are many online. UK firefigthers, for example, require a score of at least 8-8, corresponding to a VO2max of 42ml/kg/min.
What was my score? 3-3, which is a VO2max of 23.8 ml/kg/min, and considered a very poor rating even for my age. I figured that I should do something about it.
The plan was to run through a cycle of exercises: push ups, pull ups, planks and running. The first three should give me all-round strength and endurance, and the running should give me plenty of “cardio” (aerobic exercise).
The push ups are relatively OK. I can do about 30 of them. I have progressed to doing reverse-hand push ups as the next step towards one-handed push ups. So my push ups are not so bad.
The pull ups are not so bad, either. I can do 5 of those. It doesn’t sound a lot, but it can be 5 more than some. I am actually alternating between pulls ups, where the palms are facing outwards, and chin ups, where the palms are facing inwards. Chin ups are a little easier to do than pull ups, and work a few different muscles into the bargain. So I see them as a way of progressing my pulls ups and making sure I’m hitting as many muscles as possible.
I can plank for at least 3 minutes. This is a pretty decent figure, and the most that anyone really needs to do.
I have a major problem, though. My form is not very good, meaning that I am not engaging my abs and core properly. I am therefore not getting the proper benefits from the exercise.
There seem to be two problems that I am having: an anterior tilted pelvis, and weak neck muscles. These are fairly common problems, and are the likely result of a sedentary lifestyle sitting at a desk all day.
An anterior tilted pelvis is one that it tilted too far forward. This results in a lower back that curves too much inwards, with back muscles and hip flexors that are too taught, and glutes and abs that are too weak.
Weak neck muscles result in a chin that juts foward and down. I am now doing daily exercises just for my neck muscles, as the other exercises don’t really address this issue.
My greatest difficulty is in the aerobics. I chose running for aerboic exercise. It went OK for a couple of occasions, but then I experienced knee pains.
I decided to switch to a free aerobics video that I saw on Youtube, figuring that it would be less harsh on the knees.
I have only run through the video once. I found that, the next day, my calves were very very tight.
The tightness seems to be the cause of my knee problems. My walking is painful for my knees. My body seems ot be compensating for the tightness by hammering the knees. When I performed some calf stretching exercise, I notices that my walk was much less painful.
This means that, although I would like to do more aerobics, I am going to have to dial back my ambitions a lot. This is a pity, because it’s something I likely need the most. Hopefully, with time, I will loosen up, become stronger, and I will be able to do it more frequently. Until then, I am only going to become injured if I do it whilst not in a fit state.
I have also taken to walking around the house barefoot, as I read that footwear can interfere with the biomechanics of the feet; a problem that then feeds its way up throughout the whole musculature system.
So, in summary, I’m a bit of a mess. My neck needs strengthening, I need to sort out my lower back, and my legs probably need some conditioning so that I can perform aerobics without hurting myself.
I am not 25 anymore.
02-Oct-2016 Update: I had done some aerobics on Thursday, and felt some pain whilst doing so. On Saturday night I inspected my calves, and found that they were swollen to twice their usual circumference. I telephoned 111 on Sunday morning, as I was rather alarmed. They said to visit the local A&E that day, which I did. One of their concerns was DVT (deep vein thrombosis), but the doctor ruled it out when he examined me. He diagnosed myositis and myalgia of the gastroconemius. Myositis means “inflammation and degeneration of muscle tissue”, whilst myalgia means muscle pain. The gastrocnemius is the muscle in the upper half and back of the leg; it is a calf muscle.
In other words, all that running and aerobics had caused the problem. He suggested taking it easy, and do about 5 minutes at a time.
I also told him of my ATP (anterior tilting pelvis). He emailed my doctor, who should refer me to the local physiotherapist. So thanks go to Andy for suggesting the physiotherapist. I feel sure that they will be able to sort out my aches and pains.