Wednesday, July 6

Physical update – exercise: a double-edged dagger

Last week my wife and I took an enrolment in a local gym+pool. An orientation session was a real revelation, but the results have not all been positive. In fact, evenness of note flow while playing is not as easy, my neck nerve is pulling again and I’ve started feeling that scratch around my wrist and back-of-hand again…. not good!

I had asked my physiotherapist if I was ready to start going to the pool and she said it was fine, but gave many restrictions on what I could do: essentially, no straining of the arms …. how do you move in the pool without using arm strength? I started with back crawl (that was too much) and then just walking while using the arms to move away the water…. still too much. And also, using the hot-tub seems to have worsened the neck-strains that cause headaches. I’ve been getting headaches much more frequently, not so painful, just so annoying normal daily activities are difficult.

On the positive side, the trainer explained why I have a “dip” in my lower back which bulges my belly and also what is increasing constriction on the sciatic nerves, which results in weak legs and sciatica. Essentially, having spent too many years doing mostly computer work and math sitting at a desk really wrecked it for me. Good news, this gym has special machines that increase the effectiveness of key stretching movements that would not work half as well at home, on the couch.

Work the nerves, not just the muscles!
The physiotherapist had given me really simple exercises to do from the very beginning. I had also been neglecting these from the very beginning, mostly because they appear so simple and it’s hard to immediately see the benefits. Here is a video that explains the process, what I had to do was only one: lye on my back with arms out to the side and raise/lower them – that’s all!

Now, with the resumption of pain and blips when playing, I think I better understand why she gave me these exercises.

On another positive note, I had been wanting to ask for (and need to pay for) IMS in the legs as well as in the arms because I had been complaining for over 20 years of weak, sore legs, despite my proficiency on a bicycle and alpine skiing.

Luckily, the gym trainer gave me other exercises that just might work better: IMS is for neuropathic problems, my legs might be simply muscular concerns. He showed my how to use foam rollers to essentially roll-out knots in my muscles like a rolling-pin on a pie-crust…… it HUUUURRRRRTS!!! just as bad as IMS! But apparently the pain stops as the muscles get better. Strangely, when my wife does the exercise, she feels no pain at all while I literally sob from it! But the strain in my calves is likely reducing the depth of my sleep, so fixing that is really important.

So, for the next week, I’ll pay more attention to what the physiotherapist said, do her exercises and concentrate on my legs at the gym. Hopefully, musical fluidity will return quickly.


Emmanuel said...

Thanks! I've been seeing some carpal tunnel symptoms lately and didn't know about the nerve flossing exercises! :-)

RobinDesHautbois said...

Go to a doctor and ask around to find a physiotherapist who specializes in musicians! Like I wrote in my latest post (July) "IMS Update and Performance Endurance", these exercises are FAR TOO ADVANCED for most people. If you're not ready, you can harm yourself more than you help.

For musicians, it is vital to adopt a daily stretching routine that focuses on the back, shoulders and wrists. Generally, everyone who sits down most of the day will need stretching of the legs and abdomen.

Emmanuel, I had tendonitis for 3 years before acupuncture cured it. Physically, I could have continued to a professional musical career. But the key is to NOT let it develop.