Physio for the brain

triceps-stretchI was back with my physio this weekend, checking progress with the exercises I have for the pain in my right tricep. Initial diagnosis was that this was related to stiffness in my neck. She had expected it to resolve in a week. Three weeks on and my neck and scapulae seem to have increased range of movement but the upper arm pain persists. So she turned to considering if it might be a trapped nerve. She assessed my upper body musculature which was apparently worth a positive comment. This made me smile so much. She perceives strength and a notably physicality — whereas I still consider myself one of the weaker people in my regular class. I’m one of the 30% or so who don’t regularly perform full Chaturaṇga in Surya Namaskāra. If I did I think I’d have more than a trapped nerve going on!

So while she massaged the relevant area we chatted.

She’s got rid of her full skeleton recently — apparently it used to spook clients! She just has a few limbs in a plastic box! When she was a student they had real human bones, in a way you simply can’t now. But what an educational opportunity — I bet that would have been fascinating for observing osteological variation. Think of all the different hip sockets you’d see across the specimens! skeleton model.jpgI told her that one of Hubby’s colleagues has just done 3D printing of their human bone collection since it was much less controversial and eliminated the need for consent forms when school children came to visit! Having grown up creating a collection of animal bones I am quite used to handling small mammal cadavers and bones, plus archaeological training means you just have to get used to human remains too. But apparently not everyone feels this way even with nice clean museum pieces!

She talked about experiences of working with the British Olympic rowing team and told me that when she observed them on training camp her own rowing magically got much better, just by watching them in action. There’s something about muscle memory or about how your brain kind of goes through the motions in imagination that really makes a difference physically. I joked that perhaps I could improve my yoga by simply lying on the sofa watching DVDs!! She with apparent seriousness suggested that it might be the way I could improve whatever Olympic sport I wanted to be better at… The only thing that stopped me laughing myself off the bed was that she was making my arm hurt too much for a really good belly laugh!

But this kind of conversation and her questions to me about teaching told me that she sees me (literally sees me, since I was in my undies!) as a serious physical practitioner and teaching professional. I might think of myself very differently, but this is now what I am doing. So slowly, slowly I’m aligning my perception of myself with what others see.

I think the physio session offered a mental tune-up as much as a physical one. My radial nerve might be the obvious pain point but all the rigidity between my ears needs some stretching out too!

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