Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Breakthrough Day!!

I've been having a very busy time of it, the last two days.  And a very interesting day today!  It was more than interesting, it was a fantastic day!!  For this, I have to give credit to my trainer and friend, Yuichi.  Hey, I know that I've referred to him as "Yuichi the Cruel" before.  That's O.K.  Before him there was "Pablo the Terrible".  Both of these men have helped me in so many ways over the past couple of years.  I owe tham a great debt of gratitude.  Today was one of those "breakthrough" days.

On Monday, Yuichi told me that, with my shoulder messed up, we were pretty much going to be limited to working legs and abs.  He said that "my legs and abs are going to hate me" - but - that's just the way it was going to have to be.  I was afraid that he was right.  I still could not lift my left arm...and I was both bummed and a little scared.

Today, I got to the gym early...and - just to see if I could, I went to a "preacher curl" biceps bench, and with almost zero weight on it, I found that with the bench supporting the bum shoulder, I could at least go through the motions of doing a curl with no pain at all.

I told Yuichi, and he walked me over to another bench - - and demonstrated some stretches he wanted me to do.  I think I looked at him like he was crazy....I even said "Yuich...I don't think I can do that...!"  But he said to "nut up" and just try.

It hurt a bit, especially when he had me tilt my head to enforce the stretch.  But I was amazed at how good it felt when I was done (kind of like hitting yourself in the head with a feels so good when you stop!!)  After doing these stretches a couple of different ways...he had me sit down, and he poked around my upper-back/trapezius muscles.  He said that I was all tight in the area because of how I was favoring the shoulder and not using it at all.  He said he wanted to "free those up".

I knew exactly what this meant!  He has some pretty brutal techniques that include pressure-points ... and his elbows placed strategically on my back for some deep-tissue work.  I've let him do this before, usually causing me great amounts of pain, but also, eventually...relief.  Many people doen't know this (A. Suzzanne does, I've helped her get her back muscles straightened-out after many a horse show!) - - but I actually made a living for a time as a Licensed Massage Therapist.  Yep...I took a 300-hour course and was a certified Body Worker.  And a "Sports Massage Specialist", too.  Rumor has it that I was quite good, if I do say so myself.  I know that I had lots of clients that must have thought so, too!

Anyway, after about five minutes of wincing pain under Yuichi's trained (and really sharp!) elbow, my upper back was quite a bit looser.  He had me stand up...and he handed me a 45-pound weight-plate (they have handle-slots for making it easy to put them on a barbell)...

He had me let it hang down, extending and stretching the bad (and good) shoulder.  It hurt, but at the same time it felt good.  He then had me give him my bad arm...and he began to lift and rotate it...asking me all the while if it hurt.  As long as he was supporting the weight of my arm, surprisingly, the shoulder was pain free.  He said that he was now beginning to doubt that I had a torn rotator cuff, because there was no way we'd be able to move it like that at all if something was torn.  That was music to my ears!!

We tried some light dumbell isolation bicep curls (very light weight...lots of reps) and - it felt really good.  He had me stand up and told me to see how much range-of-motion I had in the shoulder (if any)...and, quite frankly, I was not too keen on the idea.

I'll be darned.  I moved it...perhaps to about the "8 o'clock" position, before the pain made me wince and stop.  "Owwwww!!! @#$%#@!!!"  Yuichi grabbed my arm, told me to just relax it...and supporting the weight of it, began to move the shoulder joint all the ways that I swore it wouldn't go.  "There's no way you have a tear in there...." he said again.  He had me swing the arm forward and back like a pendulum....

I got my arm all the way to 12 o'clock!!  Not without pain, mind you...but I did it.

Yuichi said that the best thing I could do at this stage of recovery was to just move it.  He assurred me that there was no way I was going to damage it any more...but that I had to work through the pain, stretch it where ever possible...and keep trying a little more each time.

This afternoon, I lifted my left arm all the way out to the left side and over my head.  Not without a shot of pain...but I kept doing it.  I am 100% convinced that when I see the orthopedist tomorrow...he's going to just give me some strengthening exercises and perhaps have me do some physical therapy...but there's no way they're going to have to cut on me!!

Sorry, Tommy John...the surgery will just have to wait!!  Alleluia!!

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