Thursday, May 02, 2013


Image from Wikimedia Commons.

Before we begin, a word of caution. For this blog entry, I wanted to find a picture of the mom from the Disney/Pixar movie The Incredibles. Her name was Elastigirl, which is what came to mind when the events of this story first took place. WARNING: please do NOT google the word "Elastigirl," especially at work. I was hoping to find a good picture of her that I could use here. Instead, I had to go looking for some brain bleach. Let's just say that you will get some, um, inappropriate results. And now, on to our story....

Remember the Presidential Physical Fitness test in school? I pretty much failed every single section. I have never been known for my amazing athletic feats; it's just not really my thing. I can't even play volleyball, for goodness sake. I was decent at gymnastics, but lack of upper body strength (and lack of desire to do anything about it) stopped that around age 10. So the Presidential Physical Fitness Test was a disaster for me, except for one piece: flexibility. In the test, you sat on the floor with your legs straight out in front of you, knees straight, feet together and flexed (toes pointing at the ceiling). Then, you would reach forward, and they would measure how far past your feet your fingers/hand went. Not everyone could even reach their feet. Those who could made it about an inch or so. Me? I could at least get the entire length of my fingers past my toes (so about 3 inches/10 cm). Sometimes, I could get my wrists to my toes, so that my entire hand (fingers and palms) were past the end of my feet. It was my single "amazing" physical ability. Yes, for those wondering, I could also do splits easily, in all three directions (left leg front, right leg front, and a center split). I've lost much of my flexibility over the years, much to my disappointment. I'd never really thought of my current state as being all that amazing. In fact, I find it rather sad some days (though anything is better than my husband's severe lack of flexibility; I'm not sure how he even gets his socks on!).

Then, I had in interesting exchange at physical therapy yesterday. My PT, we'll call him A, was doing an assessment of my progress. He was running through some basic things to see if there were any that I could not do at this point. Walk without limping? Check (except after physical therapy!). Get in and out of bed by myself? Check. (Remember, I couldn't do that when we started!) Get in and out of a car by myself? Check. Then, he asked me if I could squat down. Um, I don't know, I haven't really tried. "Not even to pick up something off the floor?" he asked. Well, no, I just bend over to pick up something from the floor. "That's really bad for your back." Oh, sorry. I didn't know. I tried squatting down and could do it with only a little pain, so we counted it as good and moved on to my actual exercises.

Later, about half way through my session, I had finished what I was doing and waiting for my next round of torture assignment. He was finishing up demonstrating an exercise to another patient, and I spotted a poster on the wall showing the muscles of the body. The top of the poster was at a height of about 4 feet (1.2 meters), and I wanted to get a look at the ankle (to see exactly what muscles/ligaments I had damaged and where they were located), so I bent over at the waist to try and get a better look at the ankle in the drawing. I was in more or less the above pose, except that my knees were slightly bent, I had my palms resting on the center front of my shins, and my head was up looking at the poster on the wall. I had completely forgotten our earlier conversation about that being bad for your back! Oops.

A few moments later, I heard A walk over and exclaim, "wow!" I had no idea what the wow was about, so I just kept looking at the poster. He called the name of the other therapist, we'll call her R, and said "look at this!", which was followed by her exclamation of  "that is incredible!" Okay, so now I need to know what they're so excited about. I glanced up, and they were both staring at me!

Um, hi? "How are you doing that?" Doing what? "Bending over like that?" Um, uh, er... I don't know, I just do it. "And it doesn't hurt?" No, not at all. Feels pretty good, actually. "I can see why you just bend over to pick up things on the floor. How far can you go?" Well, in the old days (you know, when I was 10), I could stand up, bend over, and put my palms flat on the floor. Now? I can only get the first joint of my fingers flat on the floor, though if I lost weight and got rid of my huge belly, I think I could the entire length of my fingers on the floor. I doubt I will ever again get my palms flat, though, so to me, it was quite a loss of flexibility.

Both of them were just standing there agog. Apparently, this is not normal at all for an adult! Who knew? R said that someone would be considered extremely flexible if they could even touch their toes "at my age." (She's at least 10 years younger than I am! I'm trying to be amused.) She could just barely swipe her shoe laces with her fingertips. A, who I would guess is about 5 years older than I am, could barely get his hands past his knees. Both are considered normal for their genders and ages. So apparently, I am some sort of abnormal Gumby-girl. I didn't know I was doing anything amazing!

Currently feeling: not quite knot-able, but close!

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