About 15 years ago I was working on a biology job that required digging holes to capture and save animals from being crushed by a new highway. Digging into the hard ground with a shovel caused me to injure my wrist but I didn’t know it at the time. A few years later I became aware of the growth on my wrist that my body created to protect the injury. I never did anything about it because it never caused me any problems.
Fast forward to a few years ago when I started learning how to do handstands and took up the Animal Flow practice. Both of these activities required spending a lot of time on my hands. Things were going fine for the first few months until I started noticing a pain under the palm of my hand. I realized that this injury was starting to give me trouble. I chose to stop doing handstands and Animal Flow. I was resigned to the fact that I would not be someone who could do stuff balanced on their hands. I was at peace with that. I had so many other fun ways of moving.
Then I took up cycling to work. Injuries have a way of coming back into your life! Putting pressure on the handlebars and being in a position that puts pressure onto my wrists was causing discomfort in my shoulderblade. Ordinarily I might start looking at what’s wrong in my shoulderblade. If my shoulderblade hurts it must be something wrong in my shoulderblade, right? Actually, no. Like the quote from Ida Rolf says ‘where you think it is, it ain’t’. I knew to look at my wrist for the source of the issue.
I went to Dr Jay Guarino at Tonume Integrated Health for help. Dr Jay is a chiropractor trained in NKT and PDTR (among other techniques, including Anatomy in Motion). He is trained to tap into the nervous system to find out what protective strategies it has decided upon to keep the body moving but avoid pain. He and I both understand that pain in one part of the body may simply be a canary in the coalmine triggered by another part of the body. Knowing what I know about my wrist and the position I’m holding on the bike, I asked him to look at my wrist and shoulder.
What he discovered is that my nervous system really didn’t like putting compression into my wrist. To avoid compressing it, as would have happened when I injured it, it has created a compensation pattern of compression and tension along my arm to balance out the forces and has asked the muscles around my shoulderblade to fire in a way that makes them ache in certain positions. Those muscles simply weren’t put together to manage this tension-compression relationship. Certain muscles have been firing or not firing to maintain that balance of forces. It was my job to retrain and rewire those patterns to alleviate the pain all the way up in my shoulderblade.
He gave me some exercises to decompress my wrist and then retrain the muscle firing to patterns to bypass the dominant pattern being taken up by my wrist and shoulder. After a few days of these exercises I am now able to commute on my bike without the shoulderblade pain. I’ll still need to keep up with the exercises until the new pattern is wired in and I will see Dr Jay once more to make sure I am progressing as he had hoped.
Another nice result of resolving my wrist issue is the other discoveries in my body. My Anatomy in Motion training teaches me that something going on in a wrist can have far reaching effects in the rest of the body. You may recall from a previous case study that I had my gallbladder removed as a teenager and this has caused changes in how I move my ribcage, pelvis and left foot. I am happy to report that changing the dynamics in my wrist has led to some muscle soreness in my left leg and foot as a result of some new-found access to movement throughout the chain of command!
I may not go back to handstands and Animal Flow, but addressing what’s going on in my wrist and learning the connections that one part of my body can have on everything else were worth the exploration!