Wednesday, November 02, 2016

The Shoulder

In the course of 7 1/2 years of martial arts training, I have had aches and pains, broken digits and other injuries.  They last a few days to a few months, I push through them, and they get better.  It's a normal part of life, especially when I'm using new muscles and moving in new ways.  I take it all in stride, and if I need the ice pack or an occasional Aleve, it's no big deal.

It was no different about a year ago when my right shoulder started bothering me.  The thing I noticed first was that I had to modify the way I dressed and undressed.  Pulling a shirt or sports bra over my head the normal way locked up my shoulder and caused pain to shoot down my upper arm. Push ups and burpees hurt too. So I didn't do those things, I used a different maneuver to get out of my clothes, and I went on with my life.

Now, it's a year later. Other aches and pains and injuries have come and gone, but this one has persisted throughout.  With a ridiculously high insurance deductible, I was hesitant to seek help, but by summer, it was time.  I saw the chiropractor in June - he helped a little, then an orthopedic doctor in August.  He sent me to physical therapy. I took a break from JSD, Judo, and much of BJJ and spent roughly 6 hours per week for the next two months rehabilitating and strengthening the muscles surrounding my rotator cuff. The muscles were still hard and knotted, so I added regular trigger point massages as well - excruciating, but effective.  After a month, I still couldn't undress (or do push ups), so I went back to the ortho and he convinced me to do a cortisone shot.  It may have helped a little, but it didn't fix anything and I don't want another one.

Last week, I ended the PT.  They've done what they could, and I'm definitely stronger and have more mobility, but it's still not fixed, which is frustrating.  (Can't wait until I see the bill...)  I saw the chiropractor again today, and he agreed I'm stronger and have more mobility, but it's still not right and there was no adjustment he could do without risking making it worse.  So it's on me, the lacrosse ball,  the stretchy bands, the foam roller, the hot tub and the electric stim working on it every day.  Sometimes Savageman lends his thumbs, which can be nice as well.

I'm thinking it's going in the right direction, but so, so slowly. I've resumed most of my normal training schedule, modifying where needed. It sucks, but it is what it is.

I also turned 47 last week. Whether I like to admit it or not, I don't heal as quickly as I used to.  Finding the line between "Don't be a wuss" and "Don't be stupid; take care of your body" isn't as easy as it used to be.  I have to think long-term if I want to still be happily training years from now. Building on the strength I've gained at PT, maybe adding some regular yoga and keeping the daily stretching and massaging should all help.

On days like today, it felt good to read in the hot tub and eat leftover Halloween candy.  As long as I don't make it a habit.

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