Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Bad Habits

Ridding myself of my shoulder and neck issues seems to be an exercise in ridding myself of a lifetime of bad habits. It's a little like learning to sit and walk again, only with the ingrained incorrect methods that created the problem in the first place.

I've learned a great deal about trigger points and the muscles that control the affected areas, particularly the levator scapulae. I know to spend more time listening to my body's aches and pains, trying to understand when I'm reaching a limit. I've learned to sit up in chairs, rear end all the way to the back; to maintain my head parallel to the ground as much as possible, rather than looking up or down; to get up and move frequently, every 30 to 45 minutes; to avoid leaning on my arms or elbows. I know a large number of stretching exercises.

Even so, it's often hard to know what works, or what I'm doing wrong. When I'm feeling good, it's hard to avoid overdoing it, often leading to bad days following good ones. I seem to be getting better about limiting what I do even when I'm not hurting, or hurting too much, in order to keep the healing process going. Still, human nature being what it is, I envision more setbacks along the way.

The scary part of the process is not knowing when - or if - the problem will go away entirely, i.e., I'll be able to spend, say, four hours at a keyboard in one day and still feel all right the next day. I never thought of having a desk job as being subject to the sort of injuries that could affect one's ability to do the job - certainly not in the way that other careers, in different environments, have obvious job-related injuries. In theory, muscles heal quickly. I have a sneaking suspicion that part of my trouble is that I keep irritating the same areas, so I never heal competely. On the other hand, part of the aging process is that body parts take longer to heal, or develop problems, such as arthritis, that are not only problems by themselves, but could affect the way other body parts work. That is, minimizing pain in one area could stress other areas.

On the other hand, the sensation of realizing that pain is gone is an amazing thing.

I keep telling myself that it's a process, cliche that it is. Celebrate the good days, live through the crappy ones. Life goes on.

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