Exercises (Scales and Etudes for the Shoulder) – Alison Fujito

I go to physical therapy twice a week now.
I’m working with one who uses some different techniques than what I’d
seen before. Gayle uses ultrasound, electronic muscle stimulation
(which Laurie also used), acupuncture (that one was new to me!), and
scar tissue massage.  The electronic muscle stimulation is very
strange. Electrodes are placed on my shoulder muslces, and when she
turns them on, they make my muscles start jumping up and down.  It both
looks and feels bizarre–rather like my shoulder has Tourette’s
Syndrome. Scar tissue massage hurts like the dickens, but I’m amazed at
the results. 

I would have sworn after the first one that I would never be able to lift my arm again–but I could actually lift it much higher!  It was really amazing. She
also puts my neck in traction, as having a shoulder injury definitely
does strange things to your neck, back, and general posture.


now, my typical home exercise routine (which I do twice a day) starts
with the overhead shoulder pulleys, which look like this (click on the
I do them with my back to the door that they’re attached to, and use my
right arm to lift my left as high as possible. I count SLOWLY to 10,
and then switch. I
do all the exercises on both sides—I figure it can’t hurt to get my
right arm in the best shape possible, as it’s doing the work of two
arms right now. I do 2 sets of 10 for each arm, alternating arms every
time. The first effort only lifts my arm about halfway, but I can go
farther each time. By #20, I’m nearly pointing at the ceiling. The
frustrating thing is, by my next exercise session, I’m all stiffened up
again, and it takes me another 20 repetitions to point UP again.


the pulleys, I take the ol’ broomstick, lie on the floor on my back,
and with straight arms hold the broomstick in front of me with both
hands and bring it over my head—also 2 sets of ten, first with palms
down, then with palms up. Now, if I did this
exercise standing up, I’d barely be able to lift it beyond my belly
button, but when I’m on my back, I can really get it over my head.. The
floor is supporting my back and my shoulder, and I’m not fighting
gravity as much.


my right hand uses the broomstick to lift my left arm out to the side.
This one hurts, too, especially when I try to let go with the
broomstick and let my arm float slowly down to my side. It doesn’t want
to float—it wants to flop. It’s really hard not to lift my shoulder up
to compensate for the sad lack of muscles! I do this 10 times, too.


I do some exercises with stretchy big rubber bands, while still lying
on my back. I point both arms to the ceiling, each hand holding one end
of the band. Then,
while my right arm stays still, my left arm pulls the band in various
directions, all of which hurt—but each day, I can pull it a little
farther or a little harder or for a few more times than the day before.
I do each direction 10 times.


is my exercise ball, which is like a big playground ball, and right now
(much to the consternation of my children) it lives on my dining room
table. I stand in front of the table, bend at
the waist with my hands on the ball, and roll forward as far as I can
and hold for a(slow) count of 10. This is a nice way to stretch passively (the ball is doing all the work). I do 2 sets of 10.


Then, it’s on to wall walks. I
stand in front of the wall (where I’ve drawn all my little pencil marks
to show how much farther I can reach), lift my arms straight in front
of me as I as I can (usually getting to waist level on the first go),
touch the wall at that point, and “walk” my fingers higher up the wall
as high as I can go. At the top, I flatten my hand against the wall, lean in slightly, and hold for 10.


It seems like everything is held for 10 counts! I
just know that when I get to go back to work, at the first rehearsal
where I encounter a whole note ((4 beats), I’m going to hold it for 10!

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