Lessons from Zane

TAGS: ART therapy, Teammates, aging, Zane Geeting, Help, stretching, massage, Rehabilitation

In an article published on this site on June 23, 2014, titled "Heroically Overcoming the Villainy of Injury and Depression,” Zane Geeting very intelligently, and with feeling, discussed both issues.

At that time, I was suffering from both, and I was at my wits end. I thought that I had exhausted all my remedies, and I still didn't have any answers, so I reached out to Zane. He made the mistake of asking for questions. Before my questions had time to sink in, Zane had responded with an answer that led to new avenues for me to explore to get better—and I did!

Before I get my ass before my elbow, let me give some historical perspective. After open heart surgery in February 2013 followed by cardiac rehabilitation, I was allowed by the Powers That Be to resume training in late July. I was required to start very light and very slowly, which I did. My goal was to participate in a meet on November 7, 2013, nine and a half months post-surgery.

I envisioned a miraculous comeback, with world records falling. Alas, the storybook scenario was not to be. I had a respectable meet but no records fell. I still had a lot of work to do! And work I did.

I set my sights on a meet on June 7, 2014, and a warm-up meet in early May. I was diligent and worked hard. I set PRs in both my squat and bench press. My deadlift still needed work. The week before the warm-up meet, I had this strange and unusual breathing problem. It bothered me so much that I consented to go to the ER for help, something that I had never done. Because of my heart history, they kept me for three days and performed every heart test known to medicine. My heart was fine. I was discharged and still didn't know the problem.

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A breathing test later confirmed that I had a mild form of COPD. So much for the warm-up meet. My focus was now on June 7. After a particularly “kick in the ass” deadlift session, I felt pain in my right rhomboid area. It got worse and worse as the days progressed, radiating down my right arm and causing numbness in my right hand. It further radiated around and affected my right pec area. I was certain that I had a ruptured disk in my neck and was dreading another neck surgery.

I went to see my orthopedist (I'm a preferred customer). X-rays showed a lot of arthritis but not much else. He thought that I had a pulled rhomboid but ordered an MRI. Because of the spinal cord stimulator surgically implanted in my ass, that changed to a myelogram with a CT scan.

Great news for me! The myelogram-CT scan didn't show a herniated disk in my neck. There was a great deal of arthritis, as expected, but nothing that would require surgery. Yea! Now I was right back where I started. The worst case scenario had been eliminated but not the unrelenting pain and inability to train. Hence the depression. and along came Zane...

I sent Zane a question and described my symptoms and situation. In a flash, I had a response. He didn’t reveal any medical secrets, nor the secret of life (maybe he’ll tell me that later), but he gave me some basic direction. His advice was threefold: massage therapy, chiropractic work and artificial release technique (ART) therapy. The information pointed me in the right direction.

As I begin my seventy-fourth year and experience more and more ailments, I have become convinced that the medical profession is either not so smart or just covering their asses. As it appears to me, medicine is as much an art as it is a science.

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Here I am after six weekly massages, able to train without pain and a shoulder that seems better than it has in twenty years. I've learned new exercise and stretching techniques. My biggest revelation came when my massage therapist told me that many of my tendons were more bone like than tendon like. She compared my hamstring tendon to a chicken bone. She said that all the tendons in my right rotator cuff were a mess. Not torn but not flexible. She attributed it in part to age but more to overuse and abuse. Too many years of baseball, football, rugby, tennis and racquetball have contributed to a trashed shoulder. Surprisingly, she didn't attribute it to powerlifting. Also, with additional research (I ask people), I found that tendons, by reason of age and overuse, tend to calcify like arthritis of the tendons. It even has a name—calcific tendonitis. I don’t care if its name is Bob. It's still insidious. What to do?

When arthritis hurts, a person’s tendency is to do less. When tendons calcify, making movement difficult, we tend not to move. Both are wrong! Both arthritis and calcific tendonitis require movement, gentle stretching with each stretch longer than the last. I agree with many pundits who decry stretching before resistance training. Why stretch a muscle before subjecting it to stress. That’s not to say don’t warm up. That's a must.

Stretching is also a must—after exercise and on days when no weights are lifted. I've learned more gentle stretching techniques and how to stretch with bands. All have revitalized my shoulder. It has a long way to go, but I'm going in the right direction.

Recently, I began training my brother (eighteen months younger than me), who is also a little old man. We played most of the same sports, so he has a right shoulder issue as well. Thankfully, it isn't as severe as mine. Now that I know some ways and techniques to help, hopefully it will never become as serious.

Now that I'm training again, I'm hoping to participate in one of several meets in November. The one that would fulfill a dream is the IPA meet in Columbus, Ohio. If training goes well and all the stars align, that’s where I’d like to be. Thank you, Zane, for pointing me in the right direction.

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