Friday, January 27, 2023

PT round two

 Yes, I went back. I felt REMARKABLY better Wednesday, Thursday I was sore and got cramping in one of the front muscles of my thigh, but every exercise person I talked to has told me (and the PT guy confirmed) that the SECOND day after working muscles hard is worse.

Today, we worked more on the hamstrings and the core. I know some of the stretches I can do - one with a towel held behind my knee and stretching my leg up and trying to flex the foot. And I'm learning that the whole "BE AGGRESSIVE! B-E AGGRESSIVE! B-E A-G-G-R-E-S-S-I-V-E!!" thing that every gym teacher I had pushed about things like calisthentics is actually a bad idea about stretching - you don't want to start too hard or you might injure yourself. Some of the stretches felt like nothing much until I sat up and then was like Oh, okay, that does work the core. 

(Actually, I wonder if gym is just generally poorly done in the US. If the goal is to teach kids to be lifelong exercisers, a lot of the embarrassment - like, they used to make fun of fat kids, EVEN THE TEACHERS DID, or uncoordinated kids is actually counterproductive. And the gym suits were uncomfortable and didn't cover enough for some of the comfort of some of the kids. And people being made to do things that are uncomfortable for them rather than having "tracks" kids can select - so maybe some kids would like to do aerobics classes type stuff, others might want to play basketball, still others might want to do cross country or weightlifting or whatever. There's absolutely NO REASON that, for example, you could not run ALL gym classes in a medium sized school at the same time of day, and NO REASON to, for example, have only eighth graders in one class. (And okay, yeah: maybe don't, for example, do contact-y sports where you have the little kids in with the big kids, or things where someone who's not had a growth spurt yet would feel less-than. But that could be worked out).

I hated PE. I developed early and fast and got teased by some of the other girls for needing a bra early. And for having stretch marks, which is something no "your changing body" class talks about - if you grow fast, if you develop fast, you get 'em. I hated the gym clothes; the shorts felt too short and the t-shirt was too tight. And I was chubby and uncoordinated and generally bad at sports, and I took a lot of crap for it. 

I came to exercise later on - in my 20s - after a number of abortive attempts. In high school, my prep school required some kind of either sports participation (freshman and sophomores had to) or some kind of active activity after school (juniors and seniors could do "CS" which was community service where we helped the groundskeepers, or we could build sets for the plays). The "sports" I did were tennis and swimming and in the spring I helped manage lacrosse because at the time I was told not to do things that involved long-distance running (bad ankles). I also tried modern dance one disastrous winter but I was too uncoordinated and also felt fatter than the other girls in the class, and I couldn't keep the choreography in my head, and I cried a lot over it. I also played squash although really we weren't supervised so mostly we smacked the ball around a little and then took long breaks to sit down and shoot the bull. 

In college, I just walked everywhere, which probably actually kept me pretty fit. Some times I tried to use the stairs (six flights) to get up to my apartment but often I just took the elevator. 

Finally, in grad school, I decided I HAD to do regular exercise, and I was living with my parents, and they had a cross country ski exerciser that my dad had bought but quit using - so I took it over. At one point I was doing a whole hour a day! (I can't do that now; 40 minutes is about my maximum). I got a lot fitter but not a lot skinnier, but I did develop a lot of musculature and more than once had someone tell me "ah, I can tell you work out, you have really well developed shoulder muscles"

I kept that up - I actually think I am on cross country ski exerciser number 3 at this point (they wear out after a while with heavy use). I also have a low-impact aerobics dvd that I should get back out, as it works other muscle groups - I am learning with the PT exactly WHAT muscle groups I am not working and I am a weird combination of some *really strong* muscles and others that are *really weak*. Though hopefully, with learning  and doing the stretches, I strengthen those muscles up.

This is partly so I don't *hurt* (and I am realizing that the "mystery pains" I was having that alarmed my hypochondriac nature were just muscles, not something wrong with an *organ* somewhere, even though every time I had a twinge that felt surficial - which all these are - my brain would scream "REFERRED PAIN" at me). But it's also partly for the future: I want my balance to be good, I want to be strong enough that I don't fall. Falls are bad if you're an aging woman with a family history of osteoporosis.

It's expensive though. I'm telling myself it's an investment in my future and it also makes me feel better in the here and now - and heck, it's also a slightly social activity, there were a few older people there today (I think they do stroke rehab, I think that's what one woman was getting) and also I talk to the PT guy and the techs (and one of the techs is a former student of mine). So I'm getting out and having human contact and maybe that's good, too, maybe that's partly worth the cost. Eventually though my insurance will kick in (though I don't know if I'll use this enough to use up my deductible, which is pretty high.)

I have two more appointments next week. I'll see how long he wants me to keep coming; he said the goal was for me to learn these and be able to do them on my own. (Though it would be nice to get out there just to use the other equipment - I warm up on an elliptical, which is similar to the cross country skiier but I can tell it works the inner thighs more, and today I used something they said allowed one to do "controlled squats" to strengthen the front-of-the-thigh muscles). 

Edited to add: and thanks again, Dad. I realized I could take the RMD from one of the accounts he left me and it will be enough to cover most of the co-pays. As he was disabled with osteoarthritis in the last years of his life, even though my issue here is different (muscular), I think he'd approve of my using the money for this.

1 comment:

Roger Owen Green said...

I HATED the gym too. We were supposed to climb a rope; I never could. And Mr. Lewis, the gym teacher in 4th to 8th grade, was a sadist who had us march every semester because he figured the kids in the First Ward of Binghamton, NY, were going to be cannon fodder for the next war.
I was a fat kid, pretty much until I graduated from HS and did my mom's W diet and lost 35 pounds. I was better at baseball after that.
Then when I was 30, I took up racquetball, and I was good at it for 27 years until the local Y closed...