Gym Shape

The challenge was understanding the impact. The impact of being away from the gym. The facility was closed for about four months. Due to the pandemic, we have all found ourselves involved. There was an immediate impact felt when training sessions went back. The gym provided much more opportunity. The flexibility to use different machines. While also providing space to extend a movement. I had no idea how much had been lost from working out in the home. Though the ability to continue training with the help of technology was a blessing. Cerebral palsy has been found to require movement not possible at home. Communicating through a screen hampered the ability of training. Bernard was challenged in understanding the struggles with my form. He didn’t seem to be gaining enough information from working through the phone. The situation brought us into an interesting conversation at the gym. This week marked our second week back inside the gym. My form on most every exercise had become insufficient. Giving into the habits cerebral palsy has enticed my body into following. The same habit we had been spending hours working to correct before the shutdown. Work not occurring to me as involving such importance to my everyday life. Strength in the core had always been explained as something important. Always attributing a strong core to my ability to balance. Which would help me walk and engage in physical activities. While this seems to be true. The strength of my core can help in other ways as well.

Balance has often been a challenging task. A skill always desired to focus on for improvement. The ability to stabilize has been hampered by my disability. Cerebral palsy taking away the ease of walking. Causing me to begin walking after my peers had succeeded with the skill. Walking can still be a challenge depending on circumstances. Moving up and down stairs can provide challenge. Requiring added balance to maintain stability. In particular, moving down, a staircase can be a difficult process. Even when it can be executed without grasping a handrail in situations. Stairs have never been the only obstacle adding complication to moving around. Uneven ground can also make walking an adventurous task. Moving through undulating ground often requests more energy expended. Hiking would be a good example of the added pressure. But, even subtle undulation changed can tax the ability to keep stable. Causing me to fatigue more quickly than a typically developed peer. These walking skills require practice when hampered with my physical disability. They also can be helped by working on the strengthening of my core. Being able to hold my shoulders back and stand tall toward the sky. Holding good posture comes more difficultly to me with the limitations of CP. It was a skill suffering from losing our option to work inside of the gym.

Core strength also seems to play an important role in playing sports. Engaging in athletic activities has always helped. From a young age, playing all kinds of sports in the neighborhood. They kept me moving, while continuing to improve muscle strength. Playing games with friends gave me the ability to learn body control. All items lending themselves to cerebral palsy improvement. As time has turned me into an older person. Participating in athletic activities continues to help CP. Possibly with more impact today at the age of thirty-nine. The two main activities keeping me attempting to improve have been golf and skiing downhill. Both activities requiring balance and flexibility to become successful. Working in the gym helps contribute to keeping these sports in my life. The activities themselves feel as though they also play a part in moving my disability forward. Just as they did while playing during my youth. The core strength has always been important for walking. That stability provided from the core also helps tremendously with playing golf and skiing downhill. Everything becomes intertwined with the goal of cerebral palsy improvement. Being able to work on stability in a variety of ways remains crucial. Something continuing to falter in with the shutdown of the pandemic. Even when it didn’t seem to be felt. I was thinking we were doing an excellent job maintaining core strength without the gym. Not realizing, my habits of slumping over weren’t being addressed. We simply didn’t have the space and equipment to work on those upright positions.

The slouching of my upper body wasn’t evident. Thinking we were doing pretty well under the pandemic closer. Exercise continued to be performed outside of our work out sessions. Taking the form of riding bicycle and doing work in the yard. Coming to find out upon entering the gym again after four months. The work wasn’t doing enough to keep strength in my core. The type of cerebral palsy in my body leaves me moving toward the center. Wanting my body to pull into itself. Leaving the fetal position among the most comfortable. This fact leads to some specific challenges to keep in mind. Even when most days they fail to remain in my thought process. The natural tendency and comfort in bending toward the middle makes some activities enjoyable. Working in the yard often calls for working from a bend at the waist. Tasks like digging or filling a wheelbarrow with materials would be enjoyable. Keeping me in a position of comfort when thinking about my disability. The problem lies in the ease of achieving that slouched over position. It would not be helping my goal toward cerebral palsy improvement. Which would include movements to work on the extension of my arms, legs, and upper body. Movements we struggled to achieve with the limitation of being absent from the gym. These positions my body tends to seek, takes pressure off the core muscles. They entice my shoulder into a more rounded position. Along with impacting my ability to walk and speak more clearly. Concepts not understood until our arrival back in the gym. Sparked by another conversation with Bernard.

It occurs to me not all was lost with the pandemic gym closer. There has been another factor contributing to my posture. The chiropractic adjustments of Dr. McCracken play a large role in this process. The process of helping my posture improve to combat cerebral palsy challenges. The adjustments by Dr. McCracken didn’t stop during the pandemic closers. Continuing on as scheduled twice per week. Which leaves me thankful for the willingness of the doctor to continue on with his practice. Meaning even while there was trouble guiding against the behavior of slouching. The chiropractic adjustments were keeping me from experiencing too much weakness. While Dr. McCracken also continued reminding me to keep my shoulders back while engaging in activities. Trying to maintain good back position. Keeping my core engaged and away from rounding the back. All excellent advice, while also making working in the yard more challenging. So, like any good patient. The information went in one ear and out the other. The proper form might have rattled around my head momentarily. Even giving it a try, as the shovel swung once or twice. However, inevitably my form would wonder back to the easiest of positions. Not helping much of anything. Just adding to cerebral palsy struggles. The help was in the adjustments of Dr. McCracken every couple of days. Adjusting my back into a more proper position to help with my ability to balance, walk, and speak more clearly.

When we had the opportunity to move back inside the gym. Bernard immediately went back to work on the neglected core muscles. Begging with lunges up and down the gym floor. While holding weight extended above my head. He recognized the slouching of my upper body from the start of our movement pattern. Reminding me to keep my body upright, holding the shoulders back. The request was made a couple of times. Showing by upper body extension had not been a focus of my concentration. In my mind, the form being used to lunge, wasn’t feeling different. Telling me that the slouching had been taking place over our time away from the gym. The struggle with form had caught me by surprise. Bringing about moments of frustration, felt throughout much of the first session. The lunge taking place wasn’t the only exercise gaining the critique. As we moved forward with our session. Movement after movement was being performed in an upper body slouch position. Bringing into focus the added challenges of working out via video communication. There remained challenges for the training with the system we employed. Without being physically in the room it was almost impossible for Bernard to gain accurate information. Leading to my form breaking down over the duration of time. Placing us both into the mild frustration of life within the pandemic. The sessions after returning to the gym have been challenging in our effort to regain core strength.

Our conversation wondered into interesting territory after a couple weeks back. We started talking about the slight slouching in my posture. Following a circuit of exercises seemingly geared toward core strength. Encouraging me to extend my upper body into better position. With Bernard having a young son who has cerebral palsy similar to mine. He has been listening to the prospective of the doctors and therapists helping his son. Something he has noticed has been with clarity of speech. An aspect of my cerebral palsy always causing challenge. Bernard has learned the importance of posture when looking at speech. The taller someone can extend in their ability to stand. The clearer they can be with their speech. Listening to information regarding the relationship between speech and exercise had not been new. Bernard has spoken with me on the subject previously. When he engaged me about the impact of weight on the ability of talking. Extra weight around the vocal cords can also add challenge to speaking. The weight conversation was discussed a year before during our first interaction around my speech challenge. Leaving me with some understanding of his knowledge on the subject. Also, providing me with confidence around his interest in the topic. Which has me listening to the ideas he has to dispense. So, working on the core muscles to better my posture becomes important. Allowing me to speak clearer. Our conversation shed much light on part of the reasoning we spend much of our time focused on the area.

There remains much to learn about cerebral palsy improvement. The ways different things in my life are connected. How habits such as remaining in shape carry great impact on cerebral palsy impacts. While gaining information about the critical support Dr. McCracken provides to the flow of it all. He chiropractic adjustment keep my body in good alignment. Allowing me more freedom of movement. Along with reduced rigidity in the muscles. All contributing to better outcomes if adjustments were my only means of improvement. Luckily, the training sessions with Bernard only further the goal for better functionality in life. The chiropractic adjustments help facilitate and advance our ability to make better gains in the gym. Work not only helping my balance and stability. Making it possible to continue walking with good technique under stressful situations. The hours of work also keep me enjoying athletic activities. Helping raise my enjoyment of the life I’m blessed to be living. Having cerebral palsy has always been challenging. It can also be frustrating at times with all the things going into the improving of my ability. The gift has been the people willing to help as the journey progresses. As I continue to better understand the impact their work has on my life. I feel lucky to share in the ongoing effort to improve CP. The new information only motivates me to continue reaching further.











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