Got Strength?

If you do, you can have more balance … literally!

Two years ago, I suffered random nerve damage in my right arm/shoulder. This rocked my world and turned it upside down, both physically and emotionally. I could no longer pull up my pants or brush my teeth. To make matters worse, I was struggling with the idea that I could be sitting at my desk in my office, and part of my body just stop working for no apparent reason! The physical pain was immediate and intense and I took pain meds every day for more than a year. The accumulated emotional trauma was pretty significant as well.

After many specialists over 18 months and nearly as many opinions about what was wrong, nerve tests finally returned positive/normal. The nerves had healed on their own over time. The only problem was, I still couldn’t move my arm! Having not used it for such a long period, the muscles had withered away and my shoulder was “frozen.”

I was referred for physical therapy for nearly four months and was able to regain my motion, and started regain strength (and confidence). Now I’m working with a personal trainer at the local YMCA, and my right arm is getting stronger and I’m beginning to believe that it will catch back up to my left arm. After nearly two years, I’m feeling better than I have in a very long time. I don’t remember the last time I took pain meds, and I am beginning to sleep better at night. Life is becoming more balance, and I can use my arm again!

Here’s why:

Because… I can put my pants on without falling over (you know you are curious)!

Aside from gaining Hulk type strength and some semblance of emotional balance, my actual balance is back, too. And I suppose I didn’t even realize I had lost it. While rebuilding the muscles in my arm, my trainer is also working on core strength and lower body strength. The loss of my overall strength was gradual and invisible. I’m sure it started to fade away long before the nerve trauma to my arm. After two months with the personal trainer, I realized one day that I was putting on my clothes without leaning against my bed to keep from falling over. It was like, whoop one leg in, whoop other leg in and on to the next task to get ready for the day. Even though we do not work on specific balance exercises every week, the increased strength in my core and legs has helped improved my overall balance. Long story, I know. But I am amazed at how overall weak I had become. And I didn’t realize how weak I was until medical treatment prompted me to regain some strength! So, a by-product of my arm recovery is that I can put my pants on without falling over, and it’s always good to stay On Your Feet!

Because… now I walk faster!

In the past, when walking with my friends, I was a few (or 20) steps behind. They would always wait for me to catch up, but we would quickly get separated again. Recently I was out of town visiting friends. Surprisingly, I was the leader of the pack, waiting for them to catch up with me! I was in an unfamiliar place, but I was walking through that place like I owned the joint! The increased strength has also improved my stride, stamina and speed.

Because… strength training helps you do more than just pick things up and put them down.

Strength training has many other benefits besides gaining muscles. It helps you have a better frame of mind with increased confidence. You have more energy to devote to decision making and spending time with family and friends. You sleep better at night and wake up easier in the morning. Your overall health and immunity improves.

Because… now I think I am a badass because I can do a one-legged squat (don’t mess with me)!

Can you?

Do you incorporate strength training into your workout routine? What are some of your favorite strength building activities?

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