The Power of Muscles

I’ve been doing two novel things lately. I’ve been getting up in the morning and exercising (one might even say working out – a phrase which brings to mind lycra-clad New Yorkers in frighteningly hi-tech gyms), and I’ve been doing my speech therapy exercises.

I started doing the work out because some friends were raving about it, and I felt it could do no harm at all to try out some exercise in the privacy and secrecy of my own bedroom. I didn’t need to go out and buy expensive clothes, or find a spare evening to go to a class, I just needed to set my alarm 30 minutes earlier and be disciplined about getting up. To be honest, I didn’t believe it would do any good. I expected that the results, such as they may be, would be minimal and far in the distance.

Those of you who have come to this phenomenon before me will know that I was wrong. Just a few weeks into my new routine and I can see a narrowing in my waist line, an impressive bulking out of muscles on my arms, and I can feel the tension in muscles which have previously done nothing more strenuous than move a pen or cycle a few yards. I don’t believe the DVD’s extravagent claim that I could lose up to 20 pounds in 30 days, unless by “up to 20 pounds” they mean “significantly less than 20 pounds”, but since I don’t have any weighing scales I’ll never know. What I do know is that I feel fitter and more alert. And somehow I’m almost enjoying it!

The speech therapy exercises were a broadly similar experience, although the motivation for beginning them was less to do with peer pressure and more to do with an alarming diagnosis and an inability to sing a phrase without secretly breathing half way through. The first session lasted for two hours and I was given a sheet of odd, mouth-related stretches and squeaks which would apparently help to relax my throat and realign my larynx. The sheet helpfully suggested that I might like to do the exercises five times each day.

Hmm. Well. Five times each day is pushing it somewhat, but I did manage a couple of times most days by the end of the fortnight – once the notion had bypassed my useless short-term memory and entered my long-term one. Some of them, like the fake chewing and the tongue-writing, seemed to be doing some good. Some of them didn’t seem to be doing anything at all.

This morning I had another session with the therapist and she examined my posture. It was deemed not bad but in need of a bit of work. Then she checked the flexibility of my back, neck and shoulders. I think the agony on my face when I tried to lift my arms and pretend to row, or roll my shoulders, or even turn my head, told her all she needed to know.

So now I’ve also got a sheet of neck and shoulder exercises to do. Just now I ran through them for the third time today (it’s going well!) and I can feel a difference. For perhaps the first time in months, my shoulders hurt a little less. My back still aches, but the shooting pain next to my spinal cord is gone and things just feel a little looser.

I’m amazed, to be honest. I can’t believe I never knew that I could fix this pain so easily. No one had ever shown me the right exercises to get tension out, and I had never tried anything in case it hurt more. I think I’m a convert.

And I’m now looking forwards to next week, when a friend who is coming up to her final massage exams will be practising her techniques on me. I’m hoping for a miraculous transformation – I might even be able to raise my arms without it hurting!

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