Archive for December, 2011

Fisioterapia Semana 3

December 22, 2011


Had another great week of rehab and this week marked some significant improvement.  My session covered the following exercises:

Head press against pillow

Band exercises

Ball squeeze

Pull down machine

Seated rows

Dumbell arm raises


Balance ball push ups

Walking with band on head


Last week the weakness would manifest itself intermittently throughout my session, but this week I think I hit a new level as it only manifested itself during my very last exercise.  Not sure if it’s just a natural progression or that it was from muscle exhaustion.  I’ll assume based on gut feel that it is the result of progression, which makes me happy.

I think doing the exercises at home has helped that progression a lot.  I’m glad I thought about that.   Maybe that would have speed up my knee rehab back in May.  Also, the tingling in my finger continues to approve.  It’s almost imperceptible now.

If things keep going like this I think I’ll be back on the mats by mid-January.  Hopefully, I won’t develop any mental blocks when it comes to training in BJJ.  You’re on your back a lot.  I don’t want to be afraid of that.  Plus I really don’t have an excuse.  Renner Gracie has his back injured in an accident and he’s still training.

Here’s the video where he talks about the injury and the rehab he did to get over it.  I like it a lot because it starts with a sick mount jump to standing on a balance ball and then he gets down to a sitting position.  I so want to do that.


Hopefully, I’ll keep improving; things are looking good.  In the meantime I’m off to celebrate Christmas with the family.  Hope you all have a Merry Christmas and look forward to updating you next week on my progress before the new year.

Chau e bom dia!



Fisioterapia Semana 2

December 16, 2011


Today marks the 2nd week of rehab and things are going quite well.  Overall I feel good.  Day to day I don’t feel like I’m injured at all.  The only thing that reminds me that there I’m not 100% is the slight tingling in my index finger and weakness on my left side.  The weakness usually manifests itself when I try to use my left side to say pick up something heavy or when I try to get up from the floor by using my arms.  Also, I’ll feel it during PT, which is part of the reason why I’m doing it so that makes sense.  The tingling is weird.  If I don’t touch my finger I don’t notice it.   It has definitely improved from the first day and has sort of plateaued.  Hopefully, it will improve even more by the end of the month.

This week the majority of my routine has not changed; however, my PT added two new exercises that are really cool (in my opinion).

Here’s my usual routine:

Head press against pillow: hold for 5 seconds and do 15 reps.

  • It’s basically me lying supine on a table with my head on a pillow.  I press my head into the pillow as if I’m trying to get my face away from something.

Band extension variation 1:   20 reps.

  • Still lying supine I hold a band above me with my arms extended as if I’m about to pull a bar off the holders to perform a bench press.  I bring my arms out to my sides, which brings the band to my check.  The idea is to use my back muscles to perform this exercise.

Band extension variation 2:  20 reps.

  • Same position as the variation 1 except that I tuck my elbows in my sides and perform the same motion as variation 1.  That one is a little tougher and that’s where the weakness starts to manifest itself towards the end of the exercise.

Band tricep extension: 20 reps.

  • Still supine, my PT stands at my head and holds the band while I perform a basic tricep extension.  That’s the weakness really manifests.  At first I would get to the 10th rep and start to falter.  Now I can get to the 15th rep with only a slight feeling of weakness and then it starts to kick in.

Band pull down: 20 reps.

  • Same as the tricep extension except that I’m holding the band as if it were a baseball bat and bring it down to my belly button.  The weakness is still there and gets a little more intense as I’m still recovering from the tricep extensions.

Balance ball squeeses: 20 reps, 5 second holds.

  • I stand at a table with a balance ball between my arms.  I press down on it 10 times.  Each time I hold it for 5 seconds.  Then, I squeeze it 10 times and hold it for 5 seconds.  I like this one because I get to talk to any patient working out next to me.

Band standing rows variation 1: 20 reps.

  • Pretty straight forward, standing up pulling  on a band squeezing the muscles on my back as if I were at a seated rowing machine.  This one usually goes pretty well.

Band standing rows variation 2: 20 reps.

  • Same position as variation 1 except that instead of bring my arms to my back I bring my arms down to my hips.

Pull Downs: 20 reps.

  • This one involves three motions.  I pull down on a bar with weights to my collar bone, then pull it down to my hips and then bring it all the way back to the top.  The weakness hits me pretty quickly on that because I’m still recovering from the previous exercises.  I fight through it.

Seated rows: 40 reps.

  • Just like it sounds except that I don’t do 40 reps straight through, instead I do 20 reps using one hand grip, then 20 reps using another grip.  This is tough.  I have to fight through this one; however, it was a little bit easier than last week.

Dumbbell arm raises: 20 reps.

  • I’m standing up with two 6-lb dumbbells in my hands and keeping my arms straight I bring them up to shoulder height.

Armbike: 6 minutes.

  • This is a great exercise.  I go in one direction for 3 minutes and then the opposite direction for 3 minutes.  I started off with a 5 minute session and now am up to 6.  Not bad.

Traction: 10 minutes.

  • I’m supine and this machine pulls on my neck for 10 minutes.  It pulls and holds for 30 seconds and then releases for 30 seconds.  Awesome! Feels so good and a great way to end the work out.

That was my standard workout except that my PT added two new ones this week, which were really cool.

The first one had me standing with a band strapped around my head.  I had to walk backwards, keeping my head straight, until I felt strong tension from the band and then walk back to the starting position (it was between 3 and 4 steps).  Then had to do it in the opposite direction.  That was really cool.  I’ve seen BJJ guys doing that on videos on YouTube.  It was really cool.

Then, I had to do push ups off of an balance ball that’s in a chair propped against the wall.  This one is very difficult.  The weakness comes on very quickly and I struggled with it.  I’m looking forward to seeing how I do next week.

I’ve spoken to my PT and she said it was OK for me to do these exercises at home if I want to.  Fortunately, I have a lot of the same equipment so I can have an effective workout.  I’ll do that Saturday morning.

I hope that I see a big stride in improvement by the end of the month and maybe take another month until I’m 100%.  That would be ideal.

In speaking with my instructor I think this injury will be good for me.  I’ll be more careful, pay attention to my body more and use way less strength when I train.  In the end it’ll improve my technique, which is great.  Looking forward to it.

Hope you all have a great weekend!

Chau e bom dia!


Fisioterapia Semana 1

December 6, 2011


So started my first real round of physical therapy yesterday.  Started off with a hot pack treatment on my back and shoulder, which was nice, but next time I’m going to take off my sweater.  It would have allowed more heat to get to my back.

Then, I was laid down on a table and instructed to push my head back into the pillow as if I’m trying to get my face away from something come at it.  This is similar to the “homework” I was given over the weekend.  That felt good and I could feel it activate my muscles since the pillow acted as a form of resistance.

Then, I was given a band and instructed to raise my arms up as if I’m doing a bench press and pull it apart until it touched my chest.  That was followed by doing the same thing except with my elbows tucked into my sides.  The 2nd version of the exercise felt a little weird because my elbows kept slipping out.  Gonna focus on doing that better next time.

Next, my PT held the band while I did tricep extensions.  While the other exercises felt good this one forced me to struggle a bit.  The nerve that is pinched by my herniated disk makes my tricep weak (it’s actually feels weak when I push off a chair to get up) so the first 12 reps were OK and then the weakness set in and I struggled with the last 8 reps.

Not disappointed or anything just more surprised at how quickly that muscle weakened.  It almost felt like I had never lifted weights in my life.  It also made my body feel unbalanced as my right arm felt fine.

Then, I was given an exercise ball and told to push down on it 10 times.  Each push had to be held for 5 seconds and I also had to squeeze it the same amount.  I did that exercise without any issue.  No weakness or anything, which I kept sort of waiting for, but didn’t happen.

Then, worked with a band doing a standing row movement, another round of tricep extensions and some variations on that movement.  Then, I moved to an machine where you grip handle bars and spin them kind of like your working a speed bag.  I was on that for 5 minutes, 2.5 going in one direction, 2.5 going in the opposite direction.  That felt great.  I could feel it working the spine and loosening it up.

Finally, ended the night with traction, which was great.  The spot where the herniation was sore, but after about 4 minutes the soreness ebbed away.  This morning my back feels good, but my tricep is sore, which is OK.  That means I worked it good.

Next round of PT is Wednesday, which will probably be the same thing.  Looking forward to it.

Chau e bom dia!



December 1, 2011


So I went to my first post-hernia physical therapy session.  I got there early to get through all the paperwork so as to maximize my time with the PT.  I only waited a little bit before she called me back.  Her name is Janine and she looked about my age.  We went through the usual questions like “how did you get injured, what is the pain like, etc.  I did make it a point to tell her to treat me like an athlete.  Although I am not athletic, I am involved in a serious martial art so she should treat me like an athletic and work me good.  I want to get back on the mats and I’m not going to get back by doing baby therapy.

Then we went through the physical evaluation to determine just how much damage there is in terms of range of motion and pain.  She put this halo thing around my neck and asked me to bend my head toward each shoulder and noted how far I could go.  Then, took similar measurements when I brought my chin to my chest and brought my head all the way back (it didn’t go back very far because it hurt).

She also took measurements of my strength.  Unsurprisingly, I am weaker on my left side which is where the pain was radiating down and the tingling remains in my index finger.  She had to hold my arms out and try to keep her from pushing my arms down.  Right side held up fine, left side struggled…a lot.  I have to admit it’s a little scary knowing how weak you are not because you are physically weak, but because a nerve isn’t functioning correctly.

She also had me put my arms in a curl position (as if I’m doing dumbbell curves) and pulled at my wrists.  Right side held up no issue, left side gave way easily.  That’s a defense from an armbar.  If one of my training partners wanted to house me during sparing now is the time.  I would have no power to defend against it.

She also had me test my grip strength and told me that my grip was “hardcore.”  How awesome is that?   That was one of the best compliments I’ve ever received!  I couldn’t stop smiling about it.  After some poking and prodding to determine whether I was tender in any areas she determined that I’m in a good place from a recovery perspective.

She was going to start me off with traction just for my first day.  The traction was pretty cool.  She put my head in this apparatus that pulled on my neck on and off over 10 minutes.  At first it hurt in the area of the herniation, but I could feel it melt away.  I was surprised how good I felt when I got up.  Not that I think I’m healed, but it felt comfortable.

She gave me some homework to do.  I have to sit on a chair and pull my head back as if I’m trying to get my face away from something.  I have to do that every 3 hours.  I also have some neck stretches to do while sitting as well, but those are mainly turning my head to the side.  Nothing too serious.

Next week we are going to start with the traction again and then move on to the serious exercises.  I can’t wait!  I’ll report back next week after my next session.

Chau e bom dia!