Tuesday, July 18, 2006

They call me, "The Shoulder"

Now Playing:
"There's A Line In The Sand. Are You Afraid To Cross It?"
(preview) (lyrics)
by Some By Sea off Get Off the Ground If You're Scared
(circa 2004)
(for a number of nuanced, snobby, and snooty reasons, this song deserves a mention; additionally, Some By Sea is a great group -- check them out)

So today I had another meeting with Tony, my physical therapist. For those new to the story, I had shoulder surgery on May 1 ("biceps tenodesis"). This is a problem I've been working on for about a year. I actually had another surgery back in February that didn't fix the problem. I'm Tony's longest case and also Tony's probably least athletic case. :) What can I say? I'm special.

Anyway, the last few sessions have been spaced apart by two weeks, which is a sign that things have been going pretty well. Lately I've been more ambitious and have been inventing my own exercises (lots of rotator cuff, back, shoulder, and some very specific peck stuff). Tony was really happy with the extra work I've been doing, and he gave me a few extra exercises, but said that I've built up a really good program, and there really was no reason for me to come back unless I had a lot of problems. So he's going to leave my case open for a month, and if I don't call him back, then he'll close it. He says I shouldn't fear any activity. Just avoid pain, but start getting back into the normal workout. Start lifting heavier and heavier weight. Get back to normal. (I'm THRILLED to hear this)

Over this past year, I've learned a lot about how the upper body works. I've learned a crap load about the shoulders and back and arms. I'm surprised to hear some of these words coming out of my mouth. A sample conversation from today . . .
Tony: So how have things been going?

Ted: Well, I have some bearable pain with the I's and Y's, but even unloaded I still have some pain in my upper arm with the abduction.

Tony: That's okay. There's not a lot of functional movement out there anyway. If you get pain, just move things inward a little and gradually work out until you're all the way there.

Ted: Okay, so if I keep working on the scaption, you think the abduction will start getting easier?

Tony: Oh, yeah, definitely. It'll just take some time. How have the curls been going?

Ted: Well, I've been doing 3 sets of 20 8-pound bicep curls and hammer curls, but I also added some supinated curls.

Tony: That's great. It sounds like you can start moving up the weight.

Ted: Good.

Tony: So today let's add some triceps work . . .

Ted: Well, I've actually been doing some triceps extensions with the bands.

Tony: Oh, good, that sounds great. Well, keep doing those. In that case, let's add some 1-2 3-4 crossovers. You can use the bands to do these.

Ted: Well, I have access to a cable column. Would that be better?

Tony: Yeah, just experiment with the weight and work from there.

Ted: I've also been doing push-ups when there's no pain. I've been trying to add an inclined push-up on the Swiss ball when I'm feeling good.

Tony: Oh? Good. Well, then also do some walkouts on the ball with a decline push up.

Ted: Okay.

Tony: And let's add some step ups.

Ted: Can I use anything about that height?

Tony: Yeah, shoot for around 6-8 inches.

Ted: What about a box walk?

Tony: Actually, yeah, once the step ups are pretty easy, add a box walk.

Ted: I've also got an 8 pound exercise ball. It's not as squishy as a medicine ball. It's like a basketball filled with sand. Should I progress toward doing walks with it? Just to work on stability?

Tony: That sounds excellent.

Ted: And I've got a Spri disc too. I've been adding push-ups with one hand on the disc.

Tony: Yeah, whenever anything gets easy, try to add a stability component. That'll work very well. It really sounds like you've got a good program going. Just keep doing exactly what you're doing and I think you'll be in good shape.

Ted: Great. :)


And we also talked about some new catch-and-release exercises to work on shoulder endurance. During that talk I mentioned that I had added some shoulder shrugs; he said those would definitely be good as well. Then I asked him about some internal and external rotations I was doing and some pain I was getting during the vertical external rotations. He said that made a lot of sense and said it would come with time. Ahem, INTERNAL AND EXTERNAL ROTATIONS?

So I've learned A LOT. I used to work way too much on my chest and arms, and I think it was pushing me toward posture problems. Now I think I have really improved posture and I'm excited about shaping my back and shoulders. I have natural broad shoulders; I need to embrace that. And this shoulder problem has taught me how to do that. I'm thrilled. This is exciting.

(and for some strange reason I just love the feel of a burning hot rotator cuff after lots of loaded external rotations on my side; it's a great feeling)

So yeah... Yay for me. :) I'm proud.

(oh, and of course, thanks to Tony for teaching me :) )

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