I can barely raise my right arm this morning. A pair of socks is almost too heavy to lift. A right-handed cross-body pulling motion – tightening my belt, for example, or brushing my teeth – produces pointed pain dead-center in my right shoulder. There is no comfortable position for the arm.
Rotator cuff injury. Maybe more. The result of pulling and lifting and thrusting suitcases weighing anywhere from 10 pounds to 25 pounds during the last four weeks of business travel. Yes, there was one particular injury instance, lifting the heavy bag into an airline overhead compartment, that prompted a passenger-startling yelp and, mostly, it is the result of repetitive small stresses during the last several weeks of travel.
But, really… It’s the result of “throwing my arm out” throwing to home plate from center field when I was 11 years old, playing Little League baseball. And a moment of particularly poor form while serving during a tennis match when I was 16. And overdoing it during a touch football game when I was 22. And then one-armed carrying a too-heavy box of paper-stuffed three-ring binders in the rain on Walnut Street in Philadelphia a few years later.
Once the shoulder calmed down after Walnut Street injury, I went to a physical trainer who recommended changes to my arm motions and exercises that included pulling two large stretchy bands to strengthen my shoulder. I did the exercises for about six additional months and then, feeling better, I stopped the stretchies and curtailed my physical activity – no snow ball throwing, no tennis serving, and careful weight bearing. There have been moments along the way during which I could feel twinges in my shoulder but nothing serious… until now. This one is pretty serious.
I probably could have avoided this one had I addressed the issue early with good motion training and strength development after the first several injuries. I probably could have avoided this one through consistent, sustained strength training and motion practice in the years since the Walnut Street box-carrying injury. Instead I chose to limit my activities and live with bad habits that may cost me, big time, now.
Not seeking training to fix a weakness – my early plan – or going once to training and then hoping, without continuing the reinforcement exercises, that capabilities will change is a fool’s plan.
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