Skip to main content

Fun with Physical Therapy

I'd like to say I have a healthy distrust of the medical industry. I try to read between the lines when doctors talk to me, and I like to research myself to understand what's going on. Anyway, a few months ago I tweaked my shoulder pretty bad in the gym. Then I played golf, which didn't help. I decided to give physical therapy a try, figuring that it couldn't hurt.

Well, it hurt. After the first session of physical therapy, my shoulder felt stiffer and worse for the next couple days. After the next session, it felt even worse. All we were doing in the early sessions was ultrasound, which some people believe doesn't do anything, while others believe it stimulates the tissue to heal itself. It certainly does something, because in my experience, I got a painful dull ache in my shoulder during the ultrasound, and I asked the physical therapist to stop. That dull ache carried on in my shoulder for days, and my range of mobility (without pain) got worse and worse.

I continued doing physical therapy for about two weeks, and then since I quit my job, I stopped. Moved to Korea and my shoulder was still quite messed up, which meant I couldn't lift weights or workout. Maybe five weeks after I started physical therapy, I was really annoyed that my shoulder wasn't getting better (rest didn't help, theraband exercises didn't help), so I decided unilaterally on a different approach to healing my shoulder - I'd stop resting and start working out again.

Yes, that's right. Physical therapy and rest weren't helping, so I decided to try very light weight-lifting in order to fix my shoulder. The theory was that some scar tissue had built up in the joint from the earlier inflammation, and light exercises might break up that scar tissue and improve circulation enough to help the shoulder.

Within five days my shoulder felt twice as good. Range of motion improved, dull ache was gone. It still didn't feel good by any means, but was definitely on the upswing.

I continued adding weight and doing more exercises, carefully, while continuing to do theraband exercises for the rotator cuff. Now, about 4-6 weeks later, I can lift reasonable amounts of weight without pain, can do pushups again without pain, and am generally pretty happy with how things are going. Certain overhead exercises still hurt (there's still some sort of impingement), but my range of motion is pretty good, and probably better than most people's natural range of motion. I plan to keep working out and slowly improving the shoulder.

The point of this story is not that ultrasound is evil. In my one data point, it seemed directly to hurt, but it may in fact help in other cases. Nor is the point that physical therapy doesn't work. I've seen physical therapists do amazing things with people. The point is that it's worthwhile to listen carefully to what your body is telling you, and even when the medical establishment fails you, your body is often times smart enough to fix itself.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Why Korean Is Hard For Native English Speakers

A couple of days ago, as an experiment, I wrote my first blog post ever in a non-English language. It was an attempt to explain some of the reasons that Korean is hard to learn for native English speakers, so I figured I might as well try to write it in Korean. Those of you who actually read Korean can see how awkward the attempt was =).

In any case, the post came from an email conversation I had with The Korean from Ask a Korean, a fantastically well-written blog about all things Korea from the perspective of a Korean who moved to the United States during high school. Since I tend to geek out on language things, I figured I might as well post part of that conversation. An edited version follows.

---------

Out of the languages that I've attempted to learn so far, Korean has been the hardest. I've done a lot of meta thinking about learning Korean, and I think there are a number of reasons it's difficult for non-Koreans (and especially Westerners) to learn:

1) Obviously, the…

Don't Take Korean Language Advice From Kyopos

I'm not sure why it took me so long to figure this out, but the last people you should take Korean language advice from are kyopos (foreign-born or raised Koreans). That being said, if you do follow their advice, you will get many laughs from Koreans. Some of my personal favorites, all of which actually happened to me:

- When I first got to Korea, I was at some open-air event, and during a break I started talking to one of the hosts. He said he was only a part-time host, so I asked him what his full-time job was, and he said "백수" (which is slang for "unemployed guy"). I asked him what that was, and he replied, "Comedian". So then the next few people I met, I proudly told I was a baeksu. (Edit: Actually, this guy was Korean Korean, not kyopo.)

- Next, a kyopo who lived in the apartment I moved into back in 2010 asked me what I was doing in Korea, and I told him I was starting a company, and asked how to say that in Korean in case people ask. He told me…

Is It Worth It To Learn Korean?

Learning Korean as a non-Asian foreigner is an exercise in masochism. Note that I specify "non-Asian". Why does that make a difference? Simply because Koreans possess a deeply-ingrained belief that non-Asians are incapable of speaking Korean. The self-fulfilling prophecy of it is that since Koreans expect you to be incapable of speaking Korean, due to this mental block, they are likely to not understand you regardless of your proficiency level. Additionally, they won't respond to you with normal Korean like they would respond to an Asian person, because they assume you couldn't possibly understand. You will rarely ever have an opportunity to hear natural Korean, because Koreans simply won't speak it with you unless 1) they are open-minded and awesome (meaning they have probably lived abroad - thank you to all of you), or 2) they have known you long enough that they've gotten past the odd sight of a foreigner speaking Korean.

In short, nearly every time you op…