Monday, April 16, 2012

PT in Pink

I’ve been going to physical therapy twice a week for the past month to rehab a shoulder injury, and even after 8+ hours of it, I STILL giggle seeing grown men struggling to lift teeny tiny pink one-pound weights – and that includes the man in the mirror: Me!

For those fortunate enough not to have had the pleasure, PT (physical therapy to the cool kids) offers very little in the way of privacy.  There are typically 5 or 6 other people, with various injuries/surgeries, working out at the same time, while several staff members flit about, calling out corrections and suggestions from across the room as they stretch out some poor patient’s newly replaced hip.

And there is nothing hip about the exercises. Most seemed designed by mimes using equipment found at a yard sale. When I tore my Achilles, I spent a lot of time picking up marbles with my toes - but only after perfecting the scrunching up the towel with my toes routine. I’ve seen people doing embarrassing things with pool noodles and averted my eyes at the ones asked to squat until their butt hits a bucket. It's like that "Minute to Win It" show, minus the hope of prizes.

I start my shoulder sessions with the Finger Walk, which is basically doing the Itsy Bitsy Spider with my left hand “climbing” up a post.  Then I sit in an old office chair and raise and lower a set of weightless clothesline pulleys for three minutes. Next comes some multi-colored rubber bands that I stretch and pull in various positions, each time flinching in fear of them snapping back at me. Then it’s on to the pink weights, which are seriously the size of a stick of butter, and utterly ridiculous looking. Fortunately, during my last session, I was told that I’d gotten so good with the pink one-pounders, next time I could move up the orange two-pound ones. I was so proud, I forgot the fact that by my 25th rep with the pinks, my arms were shaking so much I was actually looking forward to my table work. 

On the table, I’m subjected to several painful stretches at the hands of a very pleasant, but firm, therapist who assures me that she is restoring my mobility by doing something to my shoulder capsule that reduces restrictions. But, the words I want to shout as she manipulates my arm are for a restricted audience only. And the half-dozen others in the room.  Many of whom have no such qualms about voicing their pain and discomfort.

Once I’m stretched, it’s back to more exercise. The therapist likes to save this time to introduce new movements, such as last week, when I had to “write” the alphabet on the wall with a small kickball. At first, the hardest part was remembering how write cursive, but by the time I got to P, I was cursing like a pro.  Another time I had to stand on one of the large rubber bands and pull it up and across my chest until I was holding it aloft like a sword, as if I were some sort of Pilates Pirate.

Each session ends with the relatively relaxing rolling of a giant yoga ball back and forth across the table, followed by ten minutes of ice time, where I pretend to read old issues of People and Us Weekly while sneaking glances at the muscle-bound black guy struggling to lift his petite pink weights.

“Wimp,” I think. “Wait until you get to orange!”

1 comment:

  1. LOL I've done physical therapy before and that's too funny! I had back, hip, neck injury...I don't think I had to worry about pink weights though!! But I like pink, so might not have noticed. I do remember my body hurting and shaking and quaking over seemingly impossible tasks I'd once taken for granted...

    This is too funny. Love it...even if you are only at orange...