Last month I shared the issues I was having with my arm strength and associated aches and pains. As my arm strength has improved so the pain has lessened.
The pain is still there but I can do more, load more weight and stretch out further before the pain begins. It is mostly a problem when I am still. If I lie in one position in bed for too long my shoulder grumbles and when I work on my computer with my elbow bent, it soon lets me know it’s time to move.
In response I have progressed my exercises to accommodate the changes. I have introduced the movements that can illicit pain but have broken them down into component parts. With my elbow, one of the ‘painful’ movements includes reaching my arm forwards to pick something up with my palm faced downwards e.g. to lift a saucepan by its handle or pick up a log.
As an exercise I have taken a lighter weight (that I can manage pain free) and I mimic the painful saucepan lifting, log picking up movement within a pain free range. This is still a small movement even though it is sooooo tempting to try to move further. The aim is to reach the point where the strength is restored such that I can comfortably lift the heavy saucepan and those awkward logs.
That was the plan…
However the reality worked out slightly differently. I was steadily increasing the weight as per my plan. I was delighted as I watched my progress but then I became a little to confident and moved further into the range that I knew I had the capacity to control. ‘twinge’ went my arm pain, “grrrrrrrrr!!!!” went my thoughts as I knew this would delay my progress. NOTE TO SELF: PRACTICE WHAT YOU PREACH WOMAN!
I am still annoyed with myself because while somethings are progressing, this annoying self inflicted act has set me back. To compound things further, I went to grab what I thought was an empty saucepan. Turns out it was not empty and light but full and heavy. ‘Twinge’ went my arm pain and “grrrrrrrr!!!” went my thoughts. NOTE TO SELF: MY SAUCEPANS SHOULD HAVE A HEALTH HAZARD LABEL ATTACHED! But that’s life and it’s knowing how to work along side life to enable life to be more work-along-able than it might otherwise be.
Here are some ideas to try:
Stand tall holding weight in hand
Raise arms up and across body
Then diagonally down and across to opposite hip
Repeat on the other side.
Stand tall and raise arms above head
Keep weight above head: straighten and bend elbows
OR Bring weight down to waist with a squat. Stand up and straighten arms above head.
Stand tall holding weight in hand
Circle arms below waist, out to the side, above head and out the other side
It can be very tempting to ‘test’ the pain to see if a movement still hurts. If you do do this, you are training your brain that this pain is part and parcel of a particular movement. It shouldn’t be. It will result in a distorted response (however small the pain you illicit) as you teach your body to ‘brace’ in preparation of that movement instead of developing free flowing unthinking movement from which you can effectively and efficiently increase and strengthen with time.
This leads nicely to the point that the concept of enhancing my arm strength, can be applied to most exercise progressions. Looking at how you move something, hold something, bend twist or pivot, can be separated into sequential parts. As I have clearly highlighted, don’t be in a hurray to progress your exercises to ensure you are supporting the body parts that would otherwise be put under strain.
So my friends, begin as you mean to go on and know that small progressive increases in effort can result in effective long term improvements in your strength.