In July I was teaching between 9 -13 sessions a week, feeling fit and alive, despite struggling with a recurring bout of vertigo.
In the months preceding I had started noticing that my right arm had a dull pain when I reached into the cupboards for things and was starting to ache a lot. My overhead lifts were weak and the range did not allow me to place them over my centre of gravity; they remained slightly forward, my body seemingly incapable of the mechanics. I can now identify this as the early signs of Frozen Shoulder. Literally overnight, the range of movement diminished to the point where my shoulder seems wooden and I can no longer raise my arm above shoulder height at the front (even without weights) nor do up my bra behind me!
I am now in constant pain. There is permanent tension across the back of my neck and pain and heat in my right shoulder which is incapable of separate movements: the ball and socket now move as if fused to my clavicle and scapula. It has meant cancelling PT sessions with clients and a completely new job role within a store to make ends meet. It has meant walking away from my own training which was gaining significant traction. I was enjoying the world of Bodybuilding, having become a CrossFit qualified trainer and training this way for nearly a year and needing more.
Looking at photos of my once strong back and shoulders I am reminded of my achievements. But my once strong and toned arms now fight me every step of the way. My mojo has been broken by the brain fog of pain induced insomnia and frustration of my body rebelling against me.
As a 52 year old woman I am in the 5% of the population most likely to develop Frozen Shoulder; perimenopausal and female. I have become an expert in my own condition of which there are three stages. This first stage (the freezing) can last anything from 9 months to 12 where the pain and locked nature cannot be ignored and progressively becomes worse. I look forward to the thawing which itself can take a further 12 months and eventually a return to normal function thereafter. Hmmm, I will be in my mid 50s by then – without training my shoulders what exactly will be normal function at that stage?
Until now I have completely festered in my own pity party for the past two months but am now emerging. I have had sessions with an amazing osteopath yet it did not improve the range of movement, despite my wanting it to desperately. A session with an acupuncture Dr left me severely bruised and nearly made me vomit trying to manipulate the joint back into the capsule. There have been many tears and anger.
But there are, of course, worse things that can happen. I can still train my legs and just about every other muscle group carefully around the condition and this is what I am doing, daily. Following the mobility is hard because it is painful, but without it I can’t say I have tried. I can’t do free weights and lifts so I have reverted to machines that guide my range – and am whooping it, nearly able to do the whole stack on leg press. There are days when I can do biceps and triceps, and others where the pain prevents me from even trying.
My education into studies and solutions on this condition continues in the hope of discovering a magical method to significantly speed up the process – hot and cold treatment, mobility, TENS, talking nicely to my body and positivity mantras. Hopefully by the end of trying it all the hot piercing pain shooting down the whole length of my arm into my wrist will have ebbed away. In the meantime if I do find the cure I will absolutely be sharing it …