Designing a Post-PT Workout

My last physical therapy appointment turned out not to be my last appointment. I’m glad that I am getting more opportunity for care from my conscientious trainer, but the rebellious little kid in me hears this news and whines, “I don’t wanna go to P.T. anymore, Mooooom. I’m tiiiiired.” And the exhausted but uber-responsible adult in me takes a drag on an imaginary cigarette and says, “Kid, you don’t know the half of it.”

Me as a kid and as an adult, equally unhappy about working out.

Identical enthusiasm levels detected.

My shoulder was sore for several days last week before my 8am Friday morning workout, and my physical therapist was concerned that I wasn’t pushing myself hard enough to stretch out some ligaments at the bottom of my shoulder muscle. So he gave me a new stretch to do that feels like I’m trying to break my humerus. Then, I lay down on a table while he manipulated my arm for about 5 minutes, giving me several more degrees easy range of motion but actually making me gasp in pain. I kept telling myself that I got myself into this mess, I sat through a total of 20ish hours of severe pain in the ER last summer – I can tough out five minutes of discomfort. And I had a nice ice-down and e-stim session for my shoulder afterward, plus a full bottle of Advil waiting at my desk at the office, so I was going to be all right.

Before our time was up, I asked my trainer if there was anything I needed to bring up at my next appointment with my general practitioner (the visit will be a status check on my shoulder and my meds). My therapist said, “Well, we’ve still got one more appointment on the prescription before you go back to your doctor, so do you want to keep it next week and see where you’re at then?” We agreed I should come back next Friday morning, just a couple of days before my doctor’s appointment, to get a final assessment and see how the new elements he’s put into my routine are working out. I also plan to run my home workout past him to see if he has suggestions for improvement.

I’ve been thinking a lot about how I want my post-therapy workouts to go. I’m still doing the original 6 stretches twice a day that he gave me, plus the new stretch, for a total of 7. In addition, every other day, I plan to do wall push-ups. I did two sets of 30 push-ups total, and my shoulder felt so rubbery, though my back didn’t feel sore. I have some wrist issues due to many jobs’ worth of typing, sometimes in less than ideal ergonomic situations, and was concerned about how doing so many push-ups so often was going to affect them till I ran across a question on Reddit today from someone with the same problem, and another poster recommended push-up bars or grips, which can be gotten for $10-20 at most sports retailers. I will probably add a set of these to my stash of exercise equipment.

Push-Up Bars.

Push-up bars, helpful for those with wrist weakness.

I’ve got some 5-pound and 8-pound dumbbells that I’m going to use to warm up my shoulder muscles before each heavy workout. I should have kept my 2-pounders for that, but I wasn’t thinking I’d ever need them again when I donated them a couple of months ago. I need to get an exercise ball or a medicine ball, maybe both; the gym at work has exercise balls. And I’ve already got a resistance band. With these items, I should be able to simulate the workout I was doing almost totally with only the exception of the weight machine pulls. At first, I thought I could do my workouts at the gym at my office, but I just don’t know if I feel like carting my stuff to work every day, and I bet I can simulate the pulls with dumbbells. I may have to tweak it.

My plan is to work out 3 times a week, probably after work, and do: imitate cycling with the dumbbells to warm up my muscles, a shortened version of my daily stretches, work with the resistance bands, hugging the exercise ball, pushing the medicine ball against the wall, push-ups, and working with the dumbbells.

My hope is that I can stretch out my ligaments enough over the next several months and get strength back that I can reevaluate with my physical trainer or doctor and go back to a weightlifting routine. I was considering doing it sooner, but with the tightness and the new stretches recommended to me, I don’t want to jump into anything too soon and risk injuring myself.

I have been walking the dogs and taking long walks from time to time now that the temperature in Dallas is tolerable, but that is as far as I’ve taken any other forms of exercise. Let’s not talk about my diet today except to say that I’ve been fighting the need to become a human food vortex for a week and I can’t figure out why. More on that later, perhaps.


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