Thursday, 22 January 2009

Forearm injury and maintenance

I wrote a little bit before Christmas about some problems I have had with my left elbow. In a nutshell it has been sore and I couldn\t quite decide if it was related to the joint or the soft yissue surrounding it. I mentioned using chi kung exercises and massage tom try to help the problem and said i would report back on my progress.
Well, so much for progress. I did almost nothing over the period I spent on holidays and then overcompensated for this by doing way too much since. I STILL haven\t quite grasped the concept of slowly and gently yet and now I\m paying the price. Ok, my forearms do feel stronger and where there was practically no brachius radialis to speak of, there is a definite increase in size. My elbow still hurts though........feck!
So what HAVE I done? Lets break it down.

Massage:I have done this mainly when my forearms were feeling tired after a session of what are known as sinew metamorphosis exercises. Along with massage I use a medicinal wine , a type of dit da jow. It helps a lot in reducing swelling and soreness and nothing beats it for reducing and clearing bruises. The biggest problem I notice with massage is that my hands and fingers are too tired to push on the massage lines, making it difficult to push hard on painful spots. Then again, every bit helps...

Sinew metamorphosis:This fantastic name (yi jin jing) and techniqe derives from chi kung, which are supposed to make your forearms strong, wrists flexible and give powerful strikes. There are a number of exercises of which I only know two. These exercises do come with a caveat that if practiced incorrectly they may lead to problems as they are described as being powerful, at least in terms of chi development. However, yi jin jing should be practiced as chi kung exercises and then they are supposed to be very good, not just for the forearms but for overall health. Sometimes I just practice them simply as physical exercises in order to reduce or negate any bad effects I might induce by incorrect chi kung practice. Those of you who do not believe in chi can roll your eyes to the ceiling.....NOW!

Weight training, etc:I also dug out my 1kg hand weights and did some wrist exercises as shown to us at the sword school. These weights are light enough to give a workout but not to cause undue stress on the joints. I tried gripping and squeezing tennis balls as an alternative exercise to increase grip strength and to help activate the tendons, muscles and those stringy bits in the forearm associated with the fingers. Basically a good idea, but I think I need to try squeezing something with more give in it. The tennis ball required too much strain and I could feel it the following day. Perhaps one of those grip thingies with a spring or a softer rubber ball?

-I need to find a good regime and stick to it, hopping from one exercise to the next is not either slowing or limiting my progress.
-Practice gently and dilligently.
-Build the exercises up slowly.
-Use massage with dit da to complement the training.

I will try to stick with this regime and keep youse all updated.


  1. Have you tried one of these,
    At least I got rid of my persistent carpal tunnel syndrome (or something like that) with one.


  2. Hi Jukka. I remeber tryin one at the salle before christmas and couldn't get the hang of it at all. But thanks for the suggestion: i checked out the website too. Cool! :-)

  3. Hi!

    I haven't found the powerball useful for anything, so I guess it's personal. :)

    I managed to cause problems to my elbows a year ago however, by skiing vigorously for 120 km in five days with basically zero skiing experience (it's Finland, but it can still happen - no snow these days). Problems still exist, sometimes the elbows pop, they don't take weight as well as they used to (like, in planks etc.), but the most important thing is that I have become more aware of the things that might hurt them more. I avoid all hyperextension, and use mental images like reaching to grab instead of reaching to slap, when doing punches (try this, the body will not naturally not hyperextend while grabbing something, even imaginary objects).

    The most useful thing for me has been moving the arms in figure eights around every joint, in combination of relaxed, wavelike movement and also occasionally by going through the widest possible range of motion, with a little stretch.

    This should give you an immediate feeling of where the problems are, and also heal the problems as the movement warms up and mobilizes the joint.

    This can be done with small weights as well, if you wish to engage the muscles more around the joint.

    Static holds like slow pushups and holding the pushup with 45 degree upper arms etc. are good. Also moving on all fours and things like that which naturally engage the arms under pressure.

    It is important not to do too much. My arms have become much stronger since the injury due to exercising, but I know how to be more careful now. Learn from the injury, and - regardless of how difficult it feels - try to enjoy the challenge of adapting to the problem.