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:
Here’s what it looks like today:
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:
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:
For the record, this is what supination looks like on a normal arm:
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.
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!
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.
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?)
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.
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.
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…
Welcome to the first day of the PIPES Challenge!!
If you’re wondering what the hell I’m talking about, you can read all about it right here.
I’m taking part in Morgan’s six week challenge to build upper-body strength. My challenge however will be a little different. I’m recovering from reconstructive surgery on my left elbow. I just started physiotherapy to get my muscles moving the joint again. My goal is to be able to almost fully extend my left arm on my own by the end of the challenge.
My arm exercises currently involve a belt and a bag of frozen peas.
Regardless, I do have a ton of tough upper-body workouts up my sleeve (pun intended) and it’s only fair to share. Below are three different types of upper-body workouts. That will hopefully challenge those pipes in new way and get you ready for the gun show in six weeks! ;)
Upper-Body For The Attention Deficit
Aim for around 12 reps for each exercise. Choose whatever cardio machines you like, or leave it out. With cardio, it takes a little over an hour.
Warm-up: 15 minutes on the elliptical, increasing resistance
Straight set (x3):
Dumbbell pullover (chest, back of shoulders, lats, rhomboids,triceps)
Cardio: 10 minutes on the rowing machine, alternating grips
Straight set (x3):
Cable lateral raise (top and front of shoulder, traps)
Cardio: 10 minutes on the stairmaster, increasing speed
Upper-Body For The Heavyweight
Recommended for the advanced. A workout that has you lifting heavy at low reps and extra sets. Knowing your limits and using proper form are extremely important. The weight below is what I use for this workout, therefore just a guideline.
|One arm dumbbell snatch||25 lbs||4-6||4|
|Romanian deadlift to row||60 lbs||4-6||4|
|Wide-grip lat pulldown||70 lbs||4-6||4|
|Barbell bench press||60 lbs||4-6|
|Push-up||on toes||to failure|
|Incline dumbbell shoulder press||25 lbs ea||4-6||4|
|Incline dumbbell curl||12 lbs ea||12||3|
|Tricep pulldown||40 lbs||12||3|
Pyramid sets get deep into your muscle tissues, really stimulating growth. The weight listed are just an example of how it varies with each set. Go with whatever challenges you the most.
|Wide-grip lat pulldown||12||45 lbs|
|Seated cable row||12||40 lbs|
|Wide-grip lat pulldown||8||55 lbs|
|Seated cable row||8||50 lbs|
|Wide-grip lat pulldown||6||65 lbs|
|Seated cable row||6||60 lbs|
|Wide-grip lat pulldown||10||45 lbs|
|Seated cable row||10||40 lbs|
|Dumbbell bench press||12||20 lb dumbbells|
|Standing cable fly||12||10 lbs each hand|
|Dumbbell bench press||8||22.5 lb dumbbells|
|Standing cable fly||8||12.5 lbs each hand|
|Dumbbell bench press||6||25 lb dumbbells|
|Standing cable fly||6||15 lbs each hand|
|Dumbbell bench press||10||20 lb dumbbells|
|Standing cable fly||10||10 lbs each hand|
|Arnold press||12||12.5 lb dumbbells|
|Barbell upright row||12||20 lb barbell|
|Arnold press||8||15 lb dumbbells|
|Barbell upright row||8||20 lb barbell|
|Arnold press||6||17.5 lb dumbbells|
|Barbell upright row||6||30 lb barbell|
|Arnold press||10||12.5 lb dumbbells|
|Barbell upright row||10||20 lb barbell|
Biceps – Alternating Sets
|Barbell bicep curl||12||20 lbs||3|
|Incline curl||12||10 lb dumbbells||3|
Triceps – Alternating Sets
|Skull crusher||12||20 lbs||3|
|Forward tricep extension||12||20 lbs||3|
As always, leave any questions about the workouts below. Let me know if you need alternates for any of the exercises because of equipment restrictions, injuries, etc. Most importantly – have fun!!
Happy Mondaaaay! Today’s Move It Monday is extra special. Instead of me talking at you, I want to motivate you to get moving with me!
It’s all about whipping those girly arms of ours into shape. You know what I’m talking about. Those of us who do a few tricep dips after a run and call it a day. Upper body strength is SO much more important than that!
Alright, and let’s face it, it won’t hurt for looking good come tank-top season ;)
Now this challenge can take on many forms and I encourage you to pick a goal that suits you. Morgan will be following the 100 push up plan. Some other great ideas are doing your first arm balance pose in yoga…
Or how about doing a full tricep dip?
Now, you may be wondering why a girl who just spent a month in a full arm-cast is yammering about getting ripped pipes.
Clearly, I am not going to spend the six weeks doing bicep curls (OUCH). But I have set a unique goal for myself.
By the end of the challenge I want to be able to almost fully flex and extend my left arm. As most of you know, I shattered my elbow a month ago in a skating accident. I just got my cast off and started physiotherapy tonight!!
I took “before” pictures so you get an idea of what I’m working with.
My bad arm, flexed toward my body as far as it will go. Mind the chipping nail polish and pyjamas – I’m currently unemployed.
My bad arm extended as far as it currently goes. I also can’t hold it up on it’s own.
For comparison’s sake, here’s the same movements with my good arm!
Flexion. What’s up.
My doc says those two movements should come back quickly, so it’s a very reasonable goal for me right now. Although, chances are I’ll fall an inch or so short of where I used to be able to move it. Nothing too noticeable.
The more difficult, and more long-term goal, will be to get rotation back in my wrist.
This is it pronated, which is actually pretty good. Because of the location of my injury, this direction is easier than it should be.
On the flipside, that means supination is more difficult than it should be. Normal arms can rotate the palm to face the ceiling. Mine just stops dead right there.
Or on my good arm, I can do it 360 degrees when straightened ;)
Meeting with a physiotherapist tonight was very interesting. She was able to work my arm into moving much more than this. Although, I am still hindered a lot by pain. She instructed me to take my percocet before our next session so we can work it a little better.
What I didn’t realize is just how tense the left side of my upper body is. My left bicep is essentially in constant contraction to keep in the 90 degree position and elbow protected. Hard as a rock. My left shoulder is also super tense and really hard to loosen up.
I’ve been instructed on how to start moving my elbow and wrist properly several times a day, as well as massaging out my left bicep and loosening up that shoulder. Despite the pain, I plan to work diligently at it to get my elbow moving back and forth with relative ease when the challenge is over!
The challenge officially starts next Monday. You can find posts at Life After Bagels every week for support over the six weeks (and maybe some guest posts from me!). We’ll also be chatting about it on her Facebook page and on Twitter under the hashtag #6weekpipes.
If your looking for more info on building up those pipes, check out these old posts of mine!
So now my question to you is – will you be participating? What’s your goal to get those pipes in shape?