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


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