Wednesday, January 29, 2014

On Tuesday I went swimming. It was the first time since two Monday's ago, which was the first time since the middle of December. That Monday I swam for about ten minutes until the pain in my left should forced me to stop. An old injury, first appearing eighteen years ago during my senior year of high school. An inflamed rotator cuff said the physical therapist at the time, and I bombed out of competitive swimming. The shoulder being one reason, the other being not wanting to swim anymore. But my shoulder, the left one, has always been the "normal" shoulder in comparison to the right one, in that the right shoulder can pop out of its joint. Without any difficulty the right can rotate 360 degrees in a circle, bending backwards like a G.I. Joe or a Barbie until it comes back to its normal position. My left shoulder has always felt pressure to keep up with the right, and it can do the same thing but does so not by popping out of its socket, but by being flexible and flexed for many years. If the right shoulder needed a good stretch, I would clamp my hands together behind my head and give it a good stretch backwards. It felt good, though from what I've been told, looked gross. 

But I think all that spinning and stretching has caught up to it, and these days it just hurts. Last semester I went swimming a lot and I think I aggravated the rotator cuff then. My guess is that the other muscles in my left arm, from being somewhat in shape, made up for this aggravation but now that I'm back in the pool, and not really in shape, I'm feeling the inflammation more. On Tuesday I took a couple ibuprofen and tried it again, mindful of not putting too much pressure on it during the "pushing down motion" (not sure how else to say that, the part of the stroke when swimming the Australian crawl, just after my hand enters the water in front of my head, and pulls down the entire length of my body, exiting just past my hip) and generally the shoulder felt okay. Not throbbing or throwing off sharp pains when pushing down. And I noted a few kinds of pressures that aggravated it, like holding a kick board, and compensated with other motions and positions to keep my body moving through the water. 

I did my usual set, about a mile of swimming and kicking, taking about thirty minutes not including warming up and down. After I was done I got out and stretched on the side of the pool, as usual. First my arms and legs using the tiled pool wall, and then on the ground stretching out my calves and thighs and back. While I was stretching I watched the little kids who where there for swim practice in the evening. Some of their parents were sitting up in the bleachers above the pool watching their children swim laps, talking with other parents or reading books. I thought about going to swim meets and swim practice and how I never wanted anybody in my family to come watch me. I thought about how important it was to me to stay separate from my family when I was a kid and when I was a teenager. I wondered how that distance has carried over into my adult life, and I wondered how responsible I am for the aches and pains I carry. I finished stretching and got up and took a hot shower and put a warm hat on. When I got home I made dinner and watched the President's speech. Today was a full day, and I'm going to get on with some school duties before I get into bed. The intense cold of the last couple days has lifted and tomorrow I'll finally be able to get back on my bike.