Two months ago, a physiotherapist told me I’d have to accept a reduction in right wrist function following the severe fractures I suffered in February.
The physio worked with me for the three sessions allocated by the NHS in these parts before signing me off with a wrist that was weak, severely limited in extension (the ability to backwards towards the forearm) and slightly out of line (making hand-eye co-ordination interesting).
I could have accepted her verdict, using my left arm and hand to make up for my gimpy right, but that wouldn’t be my style.
Instead, I researched physio treatments for injured wrists and combined my findings with training programmes gleaned from reputable sports coaching sources, mainly rugby, tennis, golf, weight lifting and fencing plus some body building.
I started with improvised weights: cans of food, bags of sugar, buckets of water, sand-filled steel pipe and, best of all, a variety of hammer heads. I started with a 1kg lump hammer, moved to a 4kg sledgehammer and finished with a 6kg fencing maul.
I did a variety of arm and shoulder building exercises, first to strengthen things like my rotator cuffs to prevent myself getting new injuries. After that, I worked on correcting the muscular atrophy that resulted from several months of no to light use and my wrist defects.
Some would describe the experience as “character building”. (The Other Half would say my character was built a long time ago and needs smoothing more than building.)
I almost always did the programme when the Other Half was at work as she would not have reacted well to the crunching, grinding, grunting, spluttering and swearing that marked my progress.
Eventually, I decided to bite the bullet and bought a cheap set of dumbbells. They were particularly useful for doing wrist curls, which involved laying my forearm along my thigh with my upsidedown hand extending beyond my knee.
Grasping a dumb bell tightly with my fingers, I’d bend my hand down (extension, remember) and then bring it back up. And repeat. And repeat.
I started with two sets of four repetitions with 3kg of weight, having used cans and sugar previously. To say it was not a pleasant experience would be an understatement.
As the weeks passed, though, my wrist started to free up and I was able to curl 4kg of weight eight times, with two sets. Then 6kg. Then 6kg eight times with three sets.
Last night, I was extremely chuffed to curl 7kg with three sets of eight repetitions. Not only that, but I’ve regained all but 10-15mm of extension in the joint.
My wrist and hand are still slightly out of line.It’s particularly noticeable when I pull my palms towards my forearms: my left hand moves in one plane, my right in two as it moves inwards as well as upwards.
I suspect the radius has healed slightly longer, the ulna slightly shorter, or both. It’s definitely a skeletal problem so I’ll just have to retrain myself to make up for the loss of more than 40 years of accustomed hand-eye co-ordination.
I don’t quite have the strength I used, too, particularly when it comes to explosive actions that require not only the use of hand, wrist and arm but the entire body. For example, lifting a 90-110kg strainer post onto my shoulder before carrying it up the hill. Or squatting inside an insulated pig hut, taking the weight on my shoulders and thrusting it into the air before walking it to a new site.
However, that will come in due course.
I’m not far off as I’ve progressed to the point where I’ve started doing a small number of one-handed power snatches with a 10kg dumb bell. It’s a single set, once a week on both arms, but after another eight weeks or so I should be where I’d prefer to be in terms of handling everything that needs to be done around the croft.
February seems a long time ago especially as I see the heavy jobs that remain outstanding, but I’ve made good progress on my equivalent of the budget Six Million Dollar Man.
I have the technology. I have the capability. Hmm, perhaps can I be better than I was before?
- How to Do Plate Curls for Forearm Development (livestrong.com)
- Restoration and Rehabilitation (fibromodem.wordpress.com)
- It could be me – but isn’t – in the postcode lottery (blogs.independent.co.uk)