Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Half a life later...

When I was 13, I broke my back doing gymnastics (ouch). Now, at the age of 26, I'm back - yes, ladies and gentlemen, I have joined a gymnastics club!
IKR!
Now, obviously, I'm not going to be doing the same stuff as I did when I was little. So far I've had two sessions and they've both been pretty restrained, but it's amazing for me to experiment in the gym and discover ways I can use the apparatus to strengthen my body and gain more control over my movements. I'm able to take advantage of subsidised classes tailored specifically for people with disabilities, and since I'm the only disabled gymnast at the moment I get a coach all to myself. It gets intense, but it's really good fun and I can feel it being helpful already.

And here is my new playground!
In the first session, I had a bit of time walking with my crutch on the sprung floor, which felt heavenly on my joints. I also learned that the floor had cost £18,000 (nearly 22,000 USD) so maybe I won't be getting one at home any time soon! We also had a go on the big trampoline, which is sunk into the floor so feels fairly safe. I did lots of bouncing in a sitting position before having a go at lying down bouncing. It sounds relaxing, but it isn't - it's really hard on your core and also whatever muscles you use to start bouncing from a supine position...
Kind of like this...
On the trampoline I also practise walking without a crutch - when I fall over it isn't a problem! - and we loop exercise bands through the holes so I can practise various arm movements with a bit of resistance. I wrap a lower resistance band round my left arm so that I can work on both arms without worsening my left shoulder.
One thing I don't get with Popeye - why are his forearms so big and his upper arms so small?!
Yesterday, in my second session, I also tried the beam for the first time - but a very low down version, only about one inch off the ground! Walking along it with my crutch was OK but without my crutch I really struggled and kept falling off, so that's something to practise. I had thought it would be quite easy so it was a bit of a wake-up call to realise I couldn't do it. Still, with a bit (/lot) of practice I'm hoping that I'll be able to train my body to get better at balance and motor control.
I mean, how hard can it be?!....
It's really nice to work on things like this through sport rather than traditional physio. It makes it far more enjoyable and gives you a more concrete goal to work towards, as well as a reason for getting there beyond purely making my life easier. It's far more motivating to learn a new, named skill than just to do more reps of stretches or weights. Best of all, falling over in the gymnastics hall (i.e. onto a sprung floor or a trampoline) is far less painful than in a hospital! I feel very lucky that the sessions are really cheap and that the facilities exist at all - and, of course, that I've got very lucky with a brilliant coach who is brimming with ideas. This will be soooo valuable for my vaulting as well as general mobility. Happy days!

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