I had no idea what a rotator cuff was until mine started to give me grief. Like the sound system at a public event, as long as it’s doing its job right, I’m unaware of its very existence. But one failure on the part of the technician, one ear-splitting squeal of feedback, or one singer whose mouth is moving but nothing’s coming out…and all eyes turn to whoever’s at the control board.
Same with our various body parts. Usually they need to hurt before they receive any attention.
Nearly a year ago, I started having trouble with my right arm any time I pulled a sweater over my head or brushed my hair or hugged my hubby. Ow! What had I done? Too much painting? Weed-pulling? Window washing? Side planks? But doctor, I’ve done all these and more without problems for years!
Precisely. Wear and tear.
I’d heard the term “rotator cuff,” of course—usually in the context of athletic injuries and therefore not applicable to sissies like me. But suddenly mine became interesting and I needed an anatomy lesson. Turns out it’s a group of tendons and muscles in the shoulder, connecting the upper arm (humerus) to the shoulder blade (scapula). The rotator cuff tendons provide stability to the shoulder; the muscles allow the shoulder to rotate.
Soon my left side began copycatting. Before long, the pain kept me awake at night, no matter which side I slept on. When my chiropractor and massage therapist agreed physio might be my best bet, I went to Portage Physiotherapy. There, Craig treats me with heat, massage, ultrasound, and TENS (electrical nerve stimulation) —all of which feel great. But the biggest part of physio is…wait for it…
Craig gave me a sheet of exercises and a stretchy band to work with at home. On my next visit, I received more exercises—all designed to stretch and strengthen the muscles in my shoulder area.
Not that I’m a whiner or anything, but as my aches and pains came up in conversations, I discovered my problem is quite common. I asked others how they had benefitted from physio, and the dialogue frequently went like this:
Them: “Well, no, I can’t say it helped me much.”
Me: “Really? Well, that’s disappointing.”
Them: “Yeah. Expensive, too.”
And then I just had to ask. “Did you do the exercises?”
Inevitably, the person would sheepishly admit they didn’t stick with that part of the program.
Why do we do this to ourselves, in so many areas of life? If I’m going to pay hard-earned money for expert help, I should jolly well do exactly what the expert tells me to do. How else will I ever know if their method works? Seems like a no-brainer, doesn’t it? But we’re so conditioned to the quick and easy fix. We give something a week or two and when we don’t see results, we give up. Even if the problem has developed over months or years.
Thankfully, I’m miserly enough to want to get my money’s worth, which means doing the exercises. And while it’s a gradual process, my shoulders are improving. I can sleep and I can pull that Corningware down from the top shelf again. I intend to stick with it.
What are you missing because you disregarded expert guidance or gave up too soon? A stronger body? A healthy marriage? Meaningful faith? Fulfillment of a long-held dream? Don’t throw away what you have already invested. The harder we work, the harder it becomes to surrender.