Monday, April 30, 2012

Getting My Wiggle On!

[I keep having "adjustments" daily since the swimming restarted.  Very little is remaining consistent, but I have had some changes of form and thought which I think bear noting, as they may later help to describe exactly what I make of the whole "body in balance" issue / topic.]

What I Was

I believe I have already written much as to how I have felt "segmented" instead of whole, in terms of my body.  Well, another way to look at this is a if I was just like an old plastic action figure.  My arms and legs bent and turned, as did my neck, but everything was a solid.  There was limited movement within the back, really, regardless of what the arms, legs, or neck did.

An example, running track, the coach would emphasize how the right arm would lunge forward with the left leg and vise versa.  I would focus on that and make it happen, but it was in no way natural.  The surge in the right arm in didn't do anything for the left leg except in terms of physical momentum.  It kept me more balanced, as in not falling over, then keeping the arms straight down, but it did no more for me then that. 

There was not real connection between the two.  Hence, I thought them as segments, unconnected.

[It may be worth noting that part of this realization came with where I focus while doing any physical action.  In a later entry, I plan to go into more detail regarding my "leading with the hands and feet" instead of the arm of leg as a whole, using just as much thigh as calf and foot (or proportionately correct, anyways).]

How I Should Be

Two words, IN BALANCE.

This is, of course, the ultimate goal, and to properly explain this concept such that it may become quantifiable by physical measurement or some other diagnostic is the whole point of why I keep writing.

Now, to describe it in terms consistent with this post.  Balance happens while in motion as well as at rest.  The muscles within the back are supposed to be used when running.  They are supposed to work with the swivelling hips I only recently discovered.  They should cause the spine to arc, however slightly, almost oscillating as one runs, from side to side, as if to the left " ) " then to the right " ( " as such.

What I Envision

While doing my almost-but-not-quite-jogs to and from the local swimming pool, I eventually find a groove to maintain my movement and at least some semblance of posture control.  Only recently, after discovering the ability to swivel my hips, have I found an oscillation in my back.  It's still early, and I have only managed to do it once for a full mile (5+ attempts), meaning the body has not always allowed me to do it, perhaps my hips or shoulders being out of position.

Yet, what I find I envision is my absolute love, Matilda.  She was quite simply one of the most awesome dogs ever, a Pit mixed with Sharpei and maybe some Australian Cattle Dog, she was the ultimate little lover, a 55 lb lap dog (once sat on my lap all the way to Lake Tahoe, and every turn was killing my bladder).  Anyways, Matilda was a tail wagger, and the whole body wagged with it, which was pretty cool looking when it was slowish, crazy when fast.  When it happened while she wanted your attention, I'd say "Tilda has her wiggle on."  It just fit.

In very frustrating fashion, I cannot find any video as yet of Tilda doing the wiggle.  Making this whole post very off in terms of my chosen title and such.  As a consolation, at least until I find one of Matilda, here's Lizzie doing her version.  While not anything like what I do envision while jogging, it's at least cute . . .

I'll work on looking for the Tilda video.  I do think it is an excellent example, not just because it is what I envision while jogging, but because it is the natural oscillation of a torso in action, and almost as cute as Lizzie, though in an ugly cute way.  I suppose I could at least put a favorite Tilda pic up since I've been scouring my computer files.

[The Lizzie video hasn't uploaded for some reason.  Color me computer incompetent.]

Thursday, April 26, 2012

In the Trough of the Wave

[Not much of a post.  I'm not in a good mood, stuck in the low following the recent high, made worse by bad weather.]

If I was right about anything, it was the soreness that would hit me following my latest successes with my almost-jogs and swimming.  It did not help that a storm front came through, bringing the temperature down, and keeping me in the house.  Right when I get a taste of warmth, it's taken away.  It should be back soon enough, a matter of days, but until then I shall undoubtedly feel like crap physically and mentally.

It's been noticeable, the mental side, by a sudden increase in my negativity in the few comment sections I visit on the Internet.  A passivist pessimist to begin with, I find myself typing, then deleting, typing, then deleting, because I simply should not attack people over things I wouldn't normally.  It did not stop me a few times, however.  Maybe it's objective proof that I am an asshole.  I have stopped visiting the Tower of The Hand (the ASOIAF site I enjoy) until I become more civil.  I'm remaining on the Merc's Giant blog site.  I'm pretty much thought of as negative there most of the time, being that I like to nitpick the smallest of topics in a baseball game, and that I think Bruce Bochy is the most over rated manager ever.  Oh well.

So, to attempt to cheer up my mood, a shall tell of a short discussion I had with house mates during my college days, a few months after having moved into a house off of Ashby near the Berkeley / Oakland boarder. 

There were four of us, J, K, L, and M (myself, Mike).  How, until this moment, I never noticed we had been consecutive letters of the alphabet is a bit surprising.  Anyways, a fifth, D was the one that organized us to live together but had backed out at the last moment.  It gave us a bigger living room, and the rent was already cheap (we were near the Ashby BART station, after all), so we did not mind too much.  He still came over often enough, if only to smoke our dope.

So it was, all of us together one evening, more likely than not high, we realized how very much the five of us were like a hand.  There was D, the thumb, not aligned with us but still part of the group.  He brought us together.  Without him we would not have lived together.  There was K, the index finger, always doing something, always going somewhere.  He may not have known why, but he always had an idea he was doing something with a purpose, always pointed toward some goal, real or imaginary.  There was J, the ring finger, the one in the longest relationship.  He was truly whipped.  There was L, the pinky finger, who was part of the group but did not really do much.  He was there sometimes, not others, making little difference either way, but definitely a part of the group.

That left me with the middle finger.  Go figure.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Objective Progress Beyond Question

Today, I swam a hard 25m of backstroke without shoulder dislocation or subluxation.  This first time since my ordeal began that any backstroke (even swum as gently as possible) did not result in at least subluxation.  There can be no doubt towards my progress.

Also, the mile home was jogged the entire way, for the first time (yes, another first) using my hips with my strides.  I presume it is yet another example of my ignorance as to correct movement prior to today, at age 41.  Worth noting, only two days ago did I use my hips in my freestyle kick in the pool.  It was at some point this winter (likely found within my journals) that I "freed" my hips at all in the first place, discovering, after a significant adjustment in both hip sockets, that I could swivel my hips similar to the movement of a hula dancer.

Fittingly, the shuffle setting ipod played Trey Anastasio's Alive Again and The Rolling Stones' You Can't Always Get What You Want during the jog home.

Monday, April 16, 2012

First Swim of 2012 and It's Aftermath

[An attempt to document today's exercise and rehab work.  I am still weakened and somewhat quivering, near 4 hours after the swim.  This entry alone has take near 90 minutes and significant effort to put together, and I have yet to start the proof-read.]

Finally warm enough to swim (and even more pleased by a pool temp higher than previous years), I got back in the water today.  I only did a total of 600m (300 breaststroke, 200 kick, 100 pull), but the experience and the aftermath were both so significant that I am more optimistic than I have been in a long time.  I am likely ecstatic, too, because this ungodly long winter is finally coming to a close around here.

The Swim

Right off, the feel of my pulls were completely different than last year, confirming that I did make progress this winter, the location of the muscles up my side, into and around my shoulders have all definitely made shifts, presumably towards a position closer to where they are supposed to be, even if only by genetics.

My hips were a mess.  It was quite painful at first, seemingly unable to orient my lower back to aide the position of my breaststroke kicks (hereafter, frog kick).  Some sharp pain, I was eventually able to relax the hips and focus on my leg position.  My frog kick always tries to be like an actual frog kick, my pelvis rotating inward (instead of relaxed or flat as a breaststroke kick should) pointing the knees outward to the side instead of down, the soles of my feet clapping together behind me instead of the ankles approaching each other side by side first. 

After the first 25m of frog kick (with kick board, not when swimming breaststroke), my right leg subluxed quite successfully.  It felt like the leg came out from the hip socket, letting muscles unwind into their correct position, as if twisted at the joint before hand, only now finally allowed to free themselves.  Almost immediately, the leg became more powerful in it's kick, and I was able to feel individual muscles in the leg and buttock for the first time, ever.  Awkwardly, the left leg did not adjust, and I felt lopsided, as if the right had suddenly become longer.

The Aftermath

By the end of the swim, it was clear I had used muscles long out of work.  I believe it's possible small portions of the muscles worked had not been used since early childhood, having been released during the adjustments of this past winter. 

I found myself quite weak and quivering.  Walking was difficult, but my hip position was more naturally correct than usual (though possibly only by means of exhaustion).

The objectively noticeable change was in my shoulders.  I have never been one to notice much of a change pre and post a work-out in terms of muscle definition.  Today, however, not only were my shoulders more defined, but they held themselves outward (as if extended slightly to each side) without conscious effort, because of the increased blood flow.  This is a first, one that makes me quite optimistic.

For nearly six plus years now (not going to look up date while this is clearish in my head), I have constantly balked at physician recommended rehabilitation techniques for the most part after initial attempts (some specific core work aided my "adjustments" to a great degree, but most caused sharp pain coupled with an inability to maintain any proper form, in both the target muscle area and the rest of the body).  It was my opinion that I was not actually able to work the targeted muscles through the movements explained by physical therapists and diagrams.  Even when they would physically set my arm in the position they wanted and moved it themselves, the resultant clicks, pops, and/or pain made it clear to myself and the therapists that an alternate exercise was needed (which until 2 or 3 years ago, none had found, referring to the core work). 

I always stated it was my hope to be able to work on building the needed muscle to hold my arms (an now hips, ugh) in their proper position, the stated goal of my doctors, after I got them "unwound" into their proper alignment.  This opinion has never been met with much understanding or belief, let alone compassion.  This, even though current literature regarding hypermobility documents difficulty in finding any success through rehabilitation exercises.  Well, I believe my arms are close to that position, now.  The hips?  Not so much, but belief in one brings a significant amount of hope towards the other.

Funny, my optimism, having now only possibly reaching the point my doctors believed me to be in all those years ago, and in only part of my body.

Of note, my most usual arm motions of "adjustment" over these past years, something that has evolved/changed (presumably for the better with each successful "adjustment") over time, reached a point in my left shoulder today that seemed to approach a point of full extension.  That is to say, it felt as if the last of the twists came undone.  If one were to graph the changes in usual left arm "adjustment" motion as it evolved/changed over time, an arc would be created.  By reaching near full extension, I believe I am nearing a point where continuing the arc of change would no longer produce adjustments.  There would be nothing left to unwind, no more twists to be undone, letting out slack.

I see no coincidence in this occurring to my left arm after the somewhat similar sensation occurred in my right leg during the swim (described above).  I have no doubt the two were linked, just as I believe my right arm is tangled with my left hip, and while this knot or set of twists may still hold back sections of the right-hip-to-left-arm connection (like a tangle of curtain cords), it has given me renewed optimism.

Granted, much of the optimism may flee come tonight's sleep (or lack of it) and tomorrow's soreness, but there can be no doubt I am entering a new phase, and that the coldness of my winter may finally be nearing an end.

I'll close with the first stanza of a song I began writing during the elation of my initial "adjustments," so long ago . . .

The morning light creeps through my blinds
I know what's coming
So many waves reflect their way
Towards the darkened corners of my room
They announce
The tide is turning


Saturday, April 14, 2012

Frustration with Seat Belts

[A recent idea I feel compelled to try and express.]

Okay.  I have finally come up with a decent metaphor partially describing what I go through with my "adjustments."

Try to remember the last time you had a fight with an unruly seat belt.  You know, when it is too long and gets flipped so many times that a twists even manage to get swallowed by the side panels.  You simply can't get the uncomfortable twist out of the belt.  My most common physical state actually does feel much like one of those twists is in my muscles, well, a few in different spots.  Quite maddening.

However, the more apt comparison is when you are trying to fix a seat belt, get it unwound, but it doesn't work because you have yet to notice how many times it is twisted down below your hip.  You had no idea a big knot of belt was even down there.  You had fixed the upper half, and almost as soon as you begin doing anything else, the twist is back because the wad tangled below the hip had worked a twist up the belt and on you again.

This is where I am now.  My upper torso feels very close to "balanced" for a few moments, only to be slightly off within minutes (although significant "adjustments" still happen around the shoulders, neck, ears, and jaw, it is comparatively "balanced" to what I was just months ago, at least in the shoulders).  Significant "twists" get unwound only after my hips release "slack," for lack of terms, or have their own significant "adjustments."

At least with a seat belt, you can actually see and count the twists.  Well, unless the side panel swallowed one.  I have no idea just how much I need to correct in my hips before I will come anywhere near balance.  I should start swimming again, soon, however, as the weather begins to turn, and my first significant success with my hips came from focused breaststroke.

Hopefully, soon, I'll have a better idea of where I stand in terms of rehab.  This winter has been difficult, to say the least.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Meditation Balls and My Latest Turning

[Very short.  Having much trouble, and spending time watching a lot of sports.  C'mon, Giants.  Win a game!]

The difficulty in describing what I understand may well be because it can not be described.

Years ago, when the adjustments had just begun, I spent hours and hours using the two sets of meditation balls I own.  You know the type, more likely than not.  You'll commonly hear it said that you can reach enlightenment if you use them long enough, twirling them in either direction in the palm of a hand.

Well, that could be, emphasis on could, what I did.  Perhaps discovering what being "balanced" is, understanding the true meaning of the Ying Yang symbol, is what it is to become enlightened, and one of the only ways to get there is by spinning those balls long enough to feel how it alters the muscles throughout the arm, even effecting the rest of the body.

I'm going to keep trying to figure out a way to describe it, but perhaps the only way to come close is by experiencing it.

If only I were able to have collected hard data while the changes were so dramatic, that may have been the only way to quantify things.