Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Silly little exercises

This is going to sound idiotic, but I didn't really expect physical therapy to be such a ... well ... physical endeavor. You go to the doctor, they prod you with some cold metal objects, and then you go home, right? I didn't really expect to go to the doctor, do six repetitions of wall sits and wince my way through about three squats.

Actually, I can’t even call them squats. They weren't squats; they were girly little knee bends that my PT asked me to do in front of a mirror. After squat three, I caught a glimpse of the confusion on my face as my right knee buckled under my body weight. That’s right. Buckled. Practically crashed into my left knee. My PT stopped me right there. I think she was just trying to prove to me what I already knew ... I am one weak puppy right now.

I guess it makes sense. For four weeks, I limped to the point of nonuse. For much of that time, I might as well have had a cast on my right leg. Even when I started using it, there was a lot of favoring going on. I think my physical therapist believes my original injury is well on its way to being mended, and I agree with her. The time for recliner chairs and potato chips has passed. Now my routine is all about strength building.

She gave me this long latex band that I'm supposed wrap around my feet and then use it for resistance as I sidestep down the hall. As I was trying it out at the office, I caught another glimpse of my reflection - framed by that malodorous neon green piece of rubber - and the thought crossed my mind that this may be the most asinine thing I have ever attempted. Downright silly. What’s the point of it all?

It’s a good question, really. I never pictured myself as the personality type that would go sniveling into physical therapy at age 27 with a minor injury. No, my strong pioneer Homer family ethic teaches me that if you can walk, and you can work, then you’re fine. So you can’t bike? Then you don’t bike. Quit your whining and go back to pick’n cucumbers. (I know, Dad, I wasn't the one that had to pick cucumbers. But it’s a good family allegory nonetheless)

So why do this work? I generally carry enough optimism to believe that time will bring most things around on their own, if I let them be. And I’m not exactly loving the two hours at the gym on a sunny, warm day. Or the silly little exercises with their unnatural positions and dead weights. I don't have to spend my day this way - I'm certainly fine otherwise. And yet, as long as I'm not riding, I greedily welcome this torture lite.

Interesting how things that are so obviously optional can start to move beyond that. There was once I time when I didn't ride bicycles, and time marched forward, and I was happy. Then I introduced cycling into my routine, coddled it, built it, wove it through the rest of my life. Now I can't let it go. Cycling has, in some ways, ingrained itself into who I am. I may be as simple as that. And so I fight.