I pinched a tendon in my rotator cuff. Not on purpose. I didn’t even know I had a tendon caught in my rotator cuff. If I did, I certainly wouldn’t have kept pinching it in there. That hurts.
I found out about this when I visited a physical therapist yesterday morning and told him about my symptoms. Actually, I might have found out about it the week before when I was talking with Judy, one of my coworkers. She mentioned she was visiting a physical therapist for pain in her upper arm and described symptoms identical to the pain I was experiencing. “Well, you’ve probably got a rotator cuff injury,” she told me. And she turned out to be right, so I probably could’ve saved myself a couple bucks there. If she had shown me the exercises she was doing to fix it I could’ve saved myself a few trips to the clinic, too.
Anyway, after telling the physical therapist about my symptoms and letting him give me a good going-over, he explained that my injury was not at all unusual for people who have spent years at a desk, hunched over a keyboard, staring into a computer monitor. To repair the damage, I would have to exercise for months and months to rebuild my muscle tone. I tried to picture myself at the gym three times a week, pumping iron, and was having some trouble doing it, but it turned out that wasn’t what he had in mind.
First, he asked me to slouch. I thought that was an unusual request, coming from a physical therapist, but he’s a professional so I figured he knew the dangers associated with what he was asking me to do. I slouched.
“Good!” he said. Again, I thought praising me for slouching was a little odd, but again I kept it to myself because he went to school for years to learn how to do this and I didn’t.
“Now sit up straight, and then draw your shoulders back and look up at the ceiling,” he continued. I did what he told me and felt myself turn into a question mark.
“Hold that for a couple seconds, then slouch again.” And that’s all there was to that exercise. I do that ten times twice a day. It’s a foundational exercise.
So’s this one: Rocking my pelvis back and forth. Again, he praised me for my flexibility. I was under the impression that I’d sort of let myself go in the five years since I retired from the Air Force, where they made me work out three times a week, but it turned out that I was a lot better off that most of the people who needed physical therapy. “Do you ever get people who can’t do that?” I asked.
“Oh, yeah. Lots.”
And this is an exercise that’s apparently pretty tricky, too: Tucking my chin against my chest. It turns out my head juts forward. It shouldn’t do that, so I have to re-shape my spine with this exercise so I can tuck my head back where it’s supposed to be. This feels wrong, but he was impressed that I could do it without him having to tell me exactly what it was supposed to look like. “Have you ever done physical therapy before?”
Nope. First time. I’m just that good.