It's been a while since I got to regale (regail? sp?) you lot with the glories of the agonies of rowing, owing to my buggered back. So I thought this week instead I'd regale you with the agonies of physical therapy.
This week I had what I hope will be my last therapy session for a while. It's expensive, so Physio lets me off coming every week if I promise to torture myself regularly at home, as per his instructions. Of course I do, because I know it's the only way I'll ever row again, and for that I would crawl naked across a bed of broken glass. (Seriously.)
Normally sessions consist of me going through a series of excercises designed to train my gluts and lower back muscles to fire properly, and strengthen my core and pelvic floor muscles. These exercises are boring, and not too bad until I've done about 20 of them. Then they suck.
But this session was different. In checking my flexibility, Physio discovered a problem with the abductor on my right leg.
Do this test:
Sit up straight on the end of your bed, with your butt cheeks barely on the bed.
Draw your left knee up to your chest and hold it there with your arms. Your right foot should remain on the floor.
Now slowly lay down on your back on the bed, keeping your left knee to your chest and your right foot on the floor.
What does your right knee do?
Does it stay in place? Or does it flop way off to the right?
Mine flopped way off to the right, because the abductor in my right thigh (muscle at top of hip becoming a tight band of tissue down by the knee) was wicked tight. Physio tried to push my right knee back in line with my body, but nothin doin.
The solution? A deep tissue massage on the outside of my right leg.
You might think this sounds pleasant. You would be wrong. Very, very wrong.
I laid down on the torture table on my left side, relaxed in a semi-fetal position. Physio got out some oil and worked some into the skin of my outer thigh. And then he started to work the muscle.
It's difficult to describe the sensation. It wasn't a sharp, searing pain like when I ruptured my disk and it felt like I had a hot knife in my back (while I rowed 4 1/2 miles at race pace). It wasn't a dull throb, like a broken toe. It was warm and spread out from the pressure of his hand through my leg like a blood stain soaking through a white shirt from a bullet wound. It seeped through me, saturating the whole lower half of my body with burning, shaking agony.
I grabbed the pillow and clutched it with my fists, trying to steady my trembling body.
"Are you laughing or crying," asked Physio.
"A little of both," I replied, truthfully. He looked perplexed for a moment and then continued, not wanting to consider too carefully the implications of the athlete on his table responding to intense pain with laughter. Hot tears ran down my face and soaked the pillow. Up and down the side of my leg he worked, pressing the ball of his hand into the muscle with (what felt like) his whole body weight. Up and down, back and forth, wave after wave of hot pain following the place where his hand had been.
After 10 minutes he had me do the sitting test again. This time my abductor didn't pull my knee out of the line of my body. His massage hurt like fuck, but it worked.
Next step is to teach the Pirate how to perform the same massage on me, so i don't have to pay the physio 19 pounds to do it. This ought to be interesting.