Monday, August 22, 2011

TOS Revisited

When I was pregnant with Monster, I was diagnosed with bilateral thoracic outlet syndrome (TOS).  Essentially, I had impinged both the nerves and blood flow from my neck to my arms, which ultimately resulted in bilateral carpal tunnel syndrome.  The suggested treatment was removal of both 1st ribs.  The drawback (you know, besides the fact that it involved surgery) was that after removing the 1st rib, I would have had to had my arm strapped to my side for six months!  And that meant that for over a year, I would have had one or the other arm strapped to my side.  Yeah, that would have worked well with three children under four.  Instead I did therapy.  Lots and lots of therapy.  Physical Therapy.  Occupational Therapy.  Massage Therapy.  Years of therapy.

It paid off.  Eventually.  My CTS resolved first (six weeks in custom-made wrist splints that reached my elbows - ever tried to change a diaper with absolutely no movement whatsoever?) and over time, I learned what I could and couldn't do with my TOS.  For the last thirteen years or so, I haven't really given my TOS much thought.  It's something I am aware of, and if I find numbness or tingling in my arms or hands, I head to the massage therapist and take it easy.  I'm aware of my posture and know what sets off my TOS, but otherwise it's a non-issue.

El Poquito Diablo has stepped up my workouts - I've finally reached a level of fitness that we can start doing some really cool stuff - but I always felt like my left shoulder was weak.  Not weak as in not strong, but weak as in no oompf.  Like stroke-y weak, but only in my shoulder.

While doing some independent arm work, El Poquito Diablo found that I was compensating in my left shoulder.  He asked me to extend my arm over my head; first my right, then my left.  I extended my right arm directly over my head - nod of approval. 

Arm straight up, spine in alignment, core tight.
And then he had me raise my left arm over my head, so I did it.  Well, I thought I did it.  Turns out I can't do it without conscious effort.
Off center, hips rotated, core de-stabilized.

It's easier to see when compared to the other arm; this is with me concentrating on contracting the right muscles and I'm still off a few degrees.
Easy to see when compared to right.

Sidenote: I'm going to have all of my pictures taken like this from now on - I look downright skinny(ish). 

Seems I might have more lingering effects from TOS than I thought; like maybe some nerve damage in my left arm.  I think with enough retraining of the muscles, it shouldn't be an issue.

I have noticed that when I'm drawing my pistol with my left hand, the weakness is a big issue.  I compensate with my chest muscles, which causes my elbow to rotate out and does not allow me to acquire my sight picture quickly.  I've got thirteen days to retrain/strengthen those muscles to make my draw more satisfactory.  Normally, I shoot the matches right handed, but I thought I'd shoot left just for kicks and giggles next month.

Of course, it took El Poquito Diablo, former National All-Around Gymnastics Champion (or however his title goes) to notice that my judges' salute was all screwed up :)


Michelle Hoad said...

you, my friend, are the incredible shrinking woman.

Rachel said...

Totally amazing how the human body works... and how everything has to work in conjunction.

I'm even more scared for you to ride behind me next time and critique just how poor my form is, ha!

GunDiva said...

Rachel - I'm the most critical of my own form. You're off the hook :)

Besides, I'd just be so thrilled to see you, form would be the last thing on my mind. I miss you!