Sunday, November 6, 2011

Nobody Likes an Injury

I hate it when my own gym rhetoric comes back to haunt me but that is my life right now. My favorite expressions while quite true and often employed by me on a daily basis are so much easier said than done that now I find myself fighting against them. Anyone who knows me personally has heard me on enough occasions say things like “You don’t go to the gym to show off, you go to the gym to show off elsewhere,” and “Lift for results, not for ego, and you will be rewarded with something to be egotistical about.” These are quite true and I have said these two lines to hundreds of people over the years that need that extra lift to keep them from hurting themselves while still getting good results. Of course there was another one that everyone says that I fell for as well, “Bigger weights equal bigger gains,” and no matter who says it, that one is true too.

I ended up having a neck injury that changed around everything for me and it still shocks me how much I don’t know as opposed to what I do. I like to think I am the smartest person in any room, and in a lot of cases I am top five at worst, but at best I am my own worst enemy because of it. This neck injury has been going on for years and I micro-managed the problem because of the symptoms, and ignored what was a growing problem. When my arms started hurting around the forearm area, I and my doctors had decided that it was arthritis. The theory was sound because the cold weather made it worse. It always happened when I was gripping things, and it seemingly got worse with no real hope of getting better. There were good days and bad days, but when it started spreading up my arm, as painful pins and needles I had a hard time ignoring it. When I started losing feeling in one of my fingers it was just odd.

I have to credit my wife with finally forcing me to seek orthopedic help, which led to an MRI. By this time I knew full well that it was my neck and I was just a mess thinking that a surgery was in my future. The MRI could have been read that way in fact as there was some serious compacting of discs around the upper region of my spine and it was congenital in nature. Now it was time for the spine doctor, and I had pretty much shut down all weight lifting in hopes that it would simply go away. We always know how that goes, and it didn’t fix any of the problems. Fortunately the spine doctor didn’t have a gloomy outlook on the whole thing, or even a definite surgical solution. The pathways to the nerves that lead to my arms is constricted, and we decided I would try therapy first before he moved the blockage with a needle.

Here’s where being observant comes into play. My own innate curiosity about how my body works, and how to fix it helps out a lot here, and from day one of therapy I was able to show the therapist the tricks I had learned to stop the pain. This went a long way to getting me on the path to recovery. By showing him that a simple shift of my neck took the pain away he was immediately able to determine where the neck issue was. We started an exercise plan that would strengthen and adjust my neck. This helped me to figure out the things that aggravated it, and in a shock of all shocks I figured out that the headrest on my year old car might be the culprit. I love my Soul but the headrest tilts your head forward a little too much and has no give so that you can adjust yourself. I’m sure the surgeon general will be furious to know that I am driving without a headrest now. Of course it is helping a ton with my recovery, not to have that stressful nag on my neck.

Now comes the hard part in all of this as I needed to get on the path of recovery. After about two weeks of doing my exercises and hitting the treadmill instead of the weight room, I found my spirits at the breaking point, but last week we started on the “gym therapy” part of it all. My therapist watched me go through typical workout routines which were in themselves ok to do, it was just amazing to see all of the “form errors” that were completely aggravating my neck. Between staring at the ground while I work out, jerking my head to get an extra rep or two, and certain lifts that would not be performed without putting my neck in the right position. It was quite a learning experience let me tell you. Now I have to remember my own rhetoric and remember that I am there to work out and not show off. This is a lot easier said than done, but I will post later on what all of that entails.

Just remember even if it is through my own hard headed negative power of example that there is a difference between a sore muscle and an orthopedic problem. If you can’t tell the difference then I suggest that you see a trainer that can explain it to you. I happen to be very fortunate that it was during a massage therapy appointment I had gotten in hopes that it was all in a sore trap, that the former female bodybuilder who is every bit as hard headed as me explained her ordeals. In her ordeals I saw a common thread and she had all the information of a good doctor I could trust. Then of course the loving nudges of my wife to get on the recovery bandwagon. I may not be completely fixed but don’t ever underestimate the mind’s way of making everything a little better just by having an idea of what is actually going on.