I’ve gone back to the gym lately, more as a result of the weather not being very conducive to riding my bike lately. But I realized I was also losing muscle mass since my knee surgery in July. I just haven’t needed to really USE my muscles much. The last time I really had to lift a patient was back in October. So, I needed to get back into a good muscle building regime, along with some good cardio.
I like mixed cardio/weights in a workout, not isolating to one or the other, when I am in the gym. Part of this is to break up the monotony, but I think (for me) that I get more out of my workouts when I do this. I’m not a body builder, nor am I a long distance runner. I am simply someone trying to lose weight, to build some muscle, and generally feel and look better. That said, sometimes I do just use the bike, or the elliptical, but I never just do weights.
Two days ago, I was at the gym, and had moved from the elliptical to a 30 minute weight session. Worked on the legs, and the back, and went to work on the biceps, triceps, and lats. I have a 3-way method on the lat pull-down machine for this. Standard lat pull down behind the neck, forward, and then I work the triceps using the same machine, but with my hands close to the center of the bar, elbows close to the body, and just bring the bar down so my arms are at a 90 degree angle, then up again, not moving the upper arms from my body (so the triceps are forced to work). No problem, right?
Set the machine for 40 pounds. First two exercises went off without a hitch. Then I moved to the triceps. First 4 felt good, then something went “pop!” in my elbow, and I felt a tearing sensation. I stopped right then. Checked out my arm, and moved it. Moved ok. No real pain. Dropped the weight to 30 pounds. 3 pull downs later, the pain returned. OK. I stopped the exercise altogether. This was going to be the end of my workout time anyway, so I went home, and iced my elbow.
Yesterday, I woke up, and my elbow felt ok. Pushing down hurt a bit, but not bad. I went to work, and finished out my day without a problem. Not that a keyboard really works out your arms a lot, mind you. Got home, and was pulling my backpack out of the back seat like a normally do, and went to sling it over my left shoulder, when WHAM! Sudden, searing pain in my elbow! 10 times worse that at the gym. I think they could hear me yell a few streets away from my apartment complex. I know one of my roommates did. Damn that hurt!
I closed up my car, and went immediately into my apartment, grabbed the ice pack in my freezer (A zip-loc bag full of peas – works great), and iced my elbow. This time, the pain didn’t subside. And my elbow was feeling hot. Crap! After 45 minutes of icing it, I had some improvement, and could move it a bit without pain, but putting pressure, even typing, hurt. I spent most of last night before bed icing it off and on, fired off a message to one of my docs, letting him know what happened, and went to bed.
I didn’t sleep much last night. Positions that didn’t allow my muscles to completely rest were uncomfortable (read: painful). I am still waiting for an answer from my doc. I hope he is in this week. If not, I may have to call in and get an urgent care appointment. I don’t know if I just tore some old scar tissue in my elbow (from years of bowling), if this is a new injury, or a combination of the two. I can move my elbow this morning, but it still feels warm, and pushing down on things hurts (I can type again with my left hand, as long as I rest my arm while doing it.). I’ve also started back on some non-steroidal meds (started those last night), hoping the combination of NSAIDs and icing will calm this down. Based on the improvement since yesterday, I am hopeful that I didn’t tear anything major, but since I am dealing with ligaments and tendons that don’t heal normally, I do have to be careful. EMS-wise, I am not working until Saturday, and if I had to work, I could right now. Might not be the happiest EMT around, but my arm does work.
In the meantime, I am going to work more on strength in other parts of my body, riding, and other cardio. I do have MTB season starting soon, and I plan on participating this year.