Posts Tagged ‘sports injuries

01
Jun
12

Moaning and groaning … oh yeah, about that shoulder!

Moaning and groaning … oh yeah, about that shoulder!

Shoulder Anatomy (Credit: Massageitsgoodforyou.wordpress)

Oy … so here’s the story.  Back in December my shoulder started hurting after boxing.  I didn’t think too much of it and let it slide for a while.

By February I noted serious “ows” when I swam–so I stopped doing that, but kept boxing, avoiding things like the right cross.  By March it was still hurting and making “popping” noises so I saw an orthopedist and after getting an MRI got the diagnosis:  A torn labram.  Specifically, I was diagnosed with a SLAP Tear (Superior Labrum from anterior to posterior), a tear where the biceps muscle tendon connects with the labram in the shoulder joint.

Labram Tear (Credit: Healthandfitness101.com)

Here’s a good explanation from About.com: An injury to a part of the shoulder joint called the labrum. The shoulder joint is a ball and socket joint, similar to the hip; however, the socket of the shoulder joint is extremely shallow, and thus inherently unstable. To compensate for the shallow socket, the shoulder joint has a cuff of cartilage called a labrum that forms a cup for the end of the arm bone (humerus) to move within. A specific type of labral tear is called a SLAP tear; this stands for Superior Labrum from Anterior toPosterior. The SLAP tear occurs at the point where the tendon of the biceps muscle inserts on the labrum.

The MRI also showed tendonitis of the supraspinatus tendon (the tendon at the top of shoulder) and bits of inflammation in a couple of other places).

Next up was a course of physical therapy — and no more boxing for the duration.

I worked with a terrific therapist name Eddie who patiently took me through a myriad of stretches and strengthening exercises.

Twice a week I  lay on one of the tables while I had a heat pack applied to my shoulder that felt GREAT–for a few minutes. Next up was a massage and gentle manipulation to try to improve my range of motion–and get me out of pain.

After the heat and massage came the hard part: lots of exercises to strengthen the rotator cuff muscles and improve range of motion which I had already begun to lose. The biggest problem was my shoulder was feeling even more unstable–meaning lots of popping when I moved it plus it hurt even more after PT was done.  In other words, not a great sign.

So … back to the orthopedist I went only to learn that I was also developing a frozen shoulder, meaning my shoulder was stiff and losing range of motion big-time.

I’d already known that I hurt when I tried to move my arm up and to the side or across my body–but the shocker was realizing that I couldn’t scratch my back anymore on my right side. I had also started to wake up in the middle of the night in pain, and trying to put on a sweater was becoming a challenge (not to mention hooking a bra!).

In other words my favorite shoulder Yoga pose was a pipe dream and I could no more do the pose than launch into space.

Options??  Well pretty much only one if I want to gain back the use of my right shoulder — arthroscopic surgery to repair the labram tear, clean up the “junk” around it  and to “unfreeze” those parts of the shoulder capsule that are impeding range-of-motion.

Arthroscopic means that the surgery will be performed through 3-4 small incisions around the shoulder using a camera and specialized surgical instruments.  Depending upon the severity of the repair, tiny ceramic screws may also be inserted to help stabilize the shoulder joint.

Surgery typically runs from one to two hours and may also entail repairs to the biceps tendon depending upon the amount of damage.

Recovery is another challenge. Immediately post-op, patients wear an ice-pack on their affected arm for 72-96 hours and pretty much keep the arm immobilized in a sling for upwards of four weeks.  PT starts pretty early though and patients usually start a course of exercise from about the second day or so.

The prospect of surgery is miserable to say the least — but given that I can’t even run because the motion hurts my arm gives some indication of its necessity.  As my surgeon said, if I want to be active at all, I kinda’ have no choice and given that I DESPERATELY want to box again, onward I march into a summer in recovery mode.

My surgery is scheduled for June 20th at NYU/Hospital for Joint Diseases.  I’ll let you know how it goes from the other side.

For further information on Labral tears here are a few good resources.

Johns Hopkins Orthopedic Surgery

NYU – Shoulder Labral Tear

American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons

28
Apr
12

Missing the gym …

Missing the gym …

Gleason's Gym

Okay, I promise this won’t be a “boo hoo” post or anything, but I’ve got to tell you having a boxing related injury plain s-u-c-k-s!  I mean really, I can’t even put a jacket on these days without a yelp, never mind shadow box!  Even my old shower favorite, slip the water streaming out of the nozzle isn’t exactly cutting it and I’ve got to tell you that attempting a run with one arm pasted to the side of your waist is ridiculous!

When I have gone to Gleason’s Gym over the past three weeks, I’ve been downright wistful.  I mean there were tons of women there last Saturday for the second annual All Female Boxing Clinic — exciting right? — and even saw my friend, wait for it blogger Amy Scheer, who’d come in for the clinic, but was I elated?  The answer is no, I actually felt kind of sad.

Well it seems I am not alone in all of this.  Medical scholars are pursuing research in the psychological effects of sports injuries on Saturday athletes like myself on through elite practitioners.

In a journal article for the Journal of Sport Behavior (1994), authors Nancy Quackenbush and Jane Crossman have written that:

… athletes experience feelings of separation, loneliness, guilt and a loss of identity and independence, because they feel that they are no longer vitally contributing to the team and that they are reliant upon others in the rehabilitative process. 

The fact is that athletes and fitness enthusiasts get injured all the time, when injuries necessitate time away from cherished activities, however, it is important to understand that recovery is not only physical.  There can be a psychological component as well.  And just as it takes a long time to build-up skills to a level of one’s own peak performance, rehabilitation of the injury doesn’t happen overnight either.

If I use my own recovery as a case in point, my shoulder rehabilitation is actually progressing.  During my first week of physical therapy, I could only use one-pound weights for certain of the strengthening exercises, however at the onset of my third week I progressed to three-pound weights.  And sure, it still hurts, and on some days worse than others, but I can actually lift my right arm straight up which I couldn’t do at all in my first week.

My basic four rotator cuff exercises. (Curtesy JumpUSA.com, Topic #474)

And I guess that’s part of the secret. Realizing that progress is relative.  That, and giving yourself a kick in the butt for feeling sad at those points when being in a place like your favorite gym usually brings you nothing but joy!

I also came across a helpful article on coping with sports injuries that may be of interest to anyone going through the same thing.  The link to the article by Elizabeth Quinn is here:  Coping with Sports Injuries: Sports psychology strategies for coping with and recovering from injury.

It is worth the read!

06
Feb
12

Living each day.

Living each day.

Whether it is the dangers of the ring, such as the one that has seen Ishika Lay on her long road to recovery from second-impact syndrome, or something closer to home, such as the sudden illness of a relative or friend, living each day to its fullest is an important mantra:  even when that means walking away from the things we love to do.

That means not only pursuing your dreams, but knowing when to sit out because the risks are too great.

Have a headache after sparring that won’t go away?  Go and get it checked out and follow the mantra:  when in doubt, sit it out.

I know we all tend to ignore the long-term effects of our actions or even cast a “blind eye” to their very existence, but headaches and the like are also symptoms of acute problems that can be dealt with much more readily early on.  Sometimes it is only a matter of facing down the demons that seem to haunt us when we contemplate the “why” question that prevents us from taking the next step — say to a doctor’s office.  Not to do so, however, is to play a dangerous game of roulette with one’s own health and well-being.  It is also an example of breaking a cardinal rule that can best be translated as cheating at solitaire.

Here’s another one: Do you have indigestion every time you eat a slice of pizza?  Or in the absence of that, cough after every pasta or pizza meal?  Has it seemed to escalate at night lately, even when you don’t eat pizza? Go and get that checked! And P.S. … stop eating pizza and pasta till you know what’s going on.  At the very least you might have GERD (Gastric Esophageal Reflux Disease), but it also might mean (depending on your age), that you are starting to see changes to the actual make-up of your esophagus (Barrett’s Esophagus) which can lead to “no joke” complications.

I bring this all up because so many of us “live” with things that we think are nothing that end up being a big something in a hurry when we least expect it.  When that happens the effects are often horrendous, both to the individual undergoing treatment and to family and friends who suffer along with each bump in the road.

Athletes presumably have a great sense of their bodies – certainly of the cause and effects of too little sleep, poor eating habits and so on; however, that doesn’t always translate into evaluating the relative risks of injuries or of even recognizing that the twinge in a shoulder is really a rotator cuff injury about to blow.

That’s when we all have to take some responsibility not only for our own health and well-being, but for what we see going on around us by taking to heart the “if you see something, say something” mantra.  Sure, you might be accused of putting your nose into someone’s business, but you well might recognize something that your sparring partner just doesn’t see.

Part of living each day certainly translates into living it with gusto, but we also need to be cognizant of all the aspects of our day, even the things we’d rather ignore.  The problem is the things we ignore have a way of slamming us in the face whether we acknowledge them or not, and for my money, it’s better to face an issue head on than wait for the unexpected surprise.

23
Oct
10

Playing hurt

Playing hurt

Injuries are never fun.  There’s the moment of insult to your body, then coping with the physical pain on top of the emotional component that seeps in whether you want it to or not.  Let’s face it, most injuries ache, may well be serious, and can mean the end of a dream or at the very least a postponement.

Boxers have an interesting relationship with pain.  Getting hit can hurt!  It is shocking, jarring and can literary knock a boxer senseless.  For the most part, with good training and practice, the hurts don’t really hurt per se – especially at the level of sparring in the gym.  Sure, the hits can be hard, but with protective gear on, there is some modicum of safety.  More to the point, it’s the place where a boxer will work out his or her own relationship to pain.  To what pain means and to how cope with it, and to learn to differentiate between how the body absorbs a blow and where it creeps over the line to injury.

For women boxers the issue of playing-through-pain can take on other components.  Our relationship to pain is complex, after all, we go through the whole labor and delivery thing and that is no picnic.  Getting body-checked in the ring though can be no joke and one has to be “ready” for it on the one hand as part of the game of boxing, and on the other be prepared for the emotions of “getting hit.”   Many of us also have to work through, decades of mental conditioning on the subject of hitting, getting hit, our “delicate” dispositions, and unfortunately, a legacy of abuse of one kind or another.   This last can be a complex intrusion into the workout that’ll cause many a boxer to breakdown into a puddle of tears for no seeming reason long before an actual “hit” would ever fell a boxer physically or mentally.

In the end, boxers contend with all sorts of injuries all the time.  The usual suspects included pulled muscles, sprained ankles, concussions, broken noses and cut eyebrows.   The injuries we don’t see are the very old hurts they may have compelled us into the gym in the first place.  Those are the harder ones to acknowledge and heal, but eventually, if a boxer sticks with it, those aches get worked out too through a mixture of stamina, determination, grit and a lot of humor.




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© Malissa Smith and Girlboxing, 2010-2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Malissa Smith and Girlboxing with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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