Daily Archives: March 28, 2011

Move It Monday: Stretches For Your Pipes

Welcome to Week #2 of the Pipes Challenge! During the six weeks of the challenge, I’m hoping to rehab my broken elbow into flexion/extension again and working on my wrist rotation. In case you’re catching up, I shattered my elbow six weeks ago in a skating accident and had reconstructive surgery on it.

I have progress pictures!! It’s been two weeks since getting my cast off and four physiotherapy sessions. I’ve also been sitting down and working on moving it at least twice a day.

Here’s what the flexion looked like two weeks ago:

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Here’s what it looks like today:

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Not that much progress, just a few degrees. The photos are taken “cold,” meaning I didn’t work on my arm beforehand. I can get it to go a little further in a physiotherapy session.

Extension two weeks ago:

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Extension today:

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I feel like I’ve made more progress with this movement. Extension is far less painful than flexion. My biggest problem right now is that my bicep is “on.” Meaning it’s almost always contracted. You can see it a little in the above photos. It’s why a lot of my movement is limited and why moving is so painful. Hoping it eases off soon!!

Wrist rotating to supinated (palm up) two weeks ago:

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Supination today:

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For the record, this is what supination looks like on a normal arm:

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I’ve made a little bit of progress with this too. My physio worked hard at it, which meant a sore forearm for days. But I can get my hand into “neutral” now with just a little coaxing, which is having your palm face your stomach.

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So overall, not an amazing amount of progress over the last two weeks. But at the same time there has been some progress, which is way better than nothing. I will say that being able to straighten my arm with the palm facing the ceiling feels like a million years away. Right now the inability to rotate my wrist is what frustrates me the most. I still can’t hold a book with two hands. Or read a newspaper comfortably. Or drive a car!!

As mentioned above, one of the biggest things holding me back is that the muscles in my left arm have completely seized up. Because they’re contracted, tight, and stiff, it makes moving my arm hard and painful. One of the things I’m most focused on now is learning to relax. Always checking in with myself and making sure I’m not tensed up along my arm. I’ve also started taking muscle relaxers before I move my arm and I find it helps noticeably.

As a way to help us relax those upper body muscles we’re working so hard during this pipes challenge, here’s a list of some of my favourite stretches!

Shoulder Stretch

Every person I know does this stretch wrong. It’s supposed to stretch out the back of your shoulder, but only works if your shoulder is DOWN. Try locking your scapula down, then bringing your arm out front. Don’t let your shoulder raise an inch when going into the stretch.

Chest Stretch

KEEP YOUR SHOULDERS DOWN!!

If your flexibility isn’t quite there yet, you can always do this one:

Just put your hand up on a wall, then rotate your body in the opposite direction. Your shoulders need to be down for this one too (noticing a trend here?)

Triceps Stretch

The best way to ease into this is start by bringing your arm back to reach between your shoulder blades. Then grab on to the elbow with the other hand and push it in & down towards your head.

Biceps Stretch

A lot like the above chest stretch, but you don’t need to be so vigilant to keep your shoulder down. I find I always have to play around and readjust this one to find that sweet spot where I start to feel it in my bicep.

Just because…

I finish every workout with this stretch. It hits the hamstrings, back, loosens the shoulders and neck. This is also one I’ve been doing a lot of with my bad arm to loosen up and stretch out my stiff left shoulder. Really have to relax and learn to haaaaang. Take deep breaths and enjoy being upside down for a while.

Well, that’s all she wrote! I’m meeting with my new physiotherapist tomorrow and going to see my family doctor for a referral with an orthopaedic surgeon. I still need bi-weekly x-rays and check ups, and will need more surgery to get a screw removed in six months.

Even more exciting news, is that I’m getting a gym membership this week!! Recumbent bike here I come…

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