The method of RDL we have used is single legged. Performing like a hinge from the waist. One leg is used to steady myself. The opposite leg comes off the ground and extends behind the body. All of this occurring while the upper body tilts forward to the floor. Then, the same move is done on the opposite side. Usually, extending the leg behind and tilting toward the floor ten times on one side. From there, moving over to execute ten repetitions with the other leg moving backward. The single legged RDL seems a challenging exercise for most people. Requiring continuous balance on one leg for the movement. The unsteady balance brought about because of cerebral palsy adds to that challenge. I can recall watching this movement taking place in gyms. Always believing it was out of my league, due to hampered balance. Convinced even the smallest attempt would result in certain collapse. When Bernard asked me to try for the first time, it freaked me out. Going back to a feeling that falling over would be a virtual lock. Surprising to me, Bernard modified the exercise to begin. Having me reach downward toward the floor without touching the floor. This helped me maintain balance as my leg extended out behind the body. Throughout the time of performing this exercise, he has rarely had me extend the movement to contact the floor. However, even with the modifications, the single legged RDL remains one of the most challenging movements.
As we have progressed with the RDL, Bernard has used different tools. Varying the distance, I reach downward toward the floor. At one point, placing a light kettlebell on a six-inch box to minimize the distance. When he adds weight to the exercise, he will often shorten my leaning distance. The exercise has also been used to focus purely on balance. Instead of adding weight to work on my strength. An aspect of cerebral palsy challenging my life has been reaching for something. Being able to gauge the distance my reach has to cover. As my arms get further away from my body, they become less steady. Then, having the dexterity in my fingers to latch onto the item. Reaching to grasp an object has often been challenging. So, Bernard uses this movement to work on just that challenge. Over the years, he has placed many different objects at the bottom of my reach. The have been small traffic style cones in a stack. With each single legged RDL I would lift a cone off the stack. He has asked me to lift a pen off the floor using the movement. While also using a stack of closer to the ground soccer cones. The ones with the hole in the middle. Proving a target for me to grasp onto. Asking me to grasp the cone through the hole in the center. Each of these requests have proven relatively doable. They each required patience and practice. But, the challenge wasn’t surprising. Until he asked me to use one finger.
The purple yoga block has been used many times in exercises. The block might be four inches wide, by about three inches tall. We have used the block to mark push-up height. Also, using it in different ways for the single legged RDL. It has been used to hold in my hand as a marker. Bernard asking me to touch the floor with the block. Doing this when my hand extends to the floor during the RDL. The nice aspect about the block has been using it length wise or width wise. Giving the block an ability to make the movement more or less challenging. During this particular round, Bernard placed the block on the floor. In the center of our purple block is a small white square. He decided to challenge me, asking that I touch the white box at the extension of the RDL. When one leg travels behind my body and my upper half extends forward. My pointer finger had to touch the middle of the white square. If the white square was missed, the repetition had to be repeated. In my head, I thought the challenge would not become difficult to execute. It was an aspect of cerebral palsy I misjudged. There was struggle for me to reach for the square with one finger. The challenge made an example out of an aspect of CP I hadn’t thought challenging.
The pointer finger challenge felt part of my ability to reach steadily for an object. The RDL simply added tension to my balance when reaching. As we got into the movement, my unsteady finger was surprising. It took above normal focus to touch the white square. The right executing the movement with some struggle. But, the left side was challenging from the beginning. The motion with the left felt almost like reaching for the wine glass. Knowing the challenge involved in handling that kind of glass. My hand can’t help but shake on its way, even when the glass is empty. That similar feeling was in my hand and finger along the downward motion. The finger slightly oscillating even while I’m narrowing my focus to steady it. Meanwhile, remaining cognizant of keeping my balance on one leg. Attempting not to lose my balance and fall over. Bernard added to the challenge by wanting the entire finger to touch inside the square. At times, I would get my finger down there, but only contact the outer line of the square. Those were tough to swallow. As previous attempts would find my finger tremble at the last moment. Missing the white box entirely, causing frustrated sadness. I continued to work at it, while fatigue complicated the challenge. Eventually adding five to ten addition repetitions in order to accomplish the goal. It was a marathon of learning to keep trying. Teaching myself, challenges feeling unfair at the time, can be accomplished.
The single legged RDL has been quite the teacher. Helping me improve one of the most challenging aspect of my disability. The ability to balance myself well, requires constant work to achieve. So, Bernard adds dynamics to make balance even more challenging. Like this pointer finger modification to our RDL. The requirement of touching the small white square brings coordination into the exercise. Making the movement one that challenges my two largest weaknesses. Over the years, Bernard has identified balance and coordination, as the two most challenging aspects of physical movement. The two concepts we probably work on the most. There is little doubt, they have improved with all the emphasis. This exercise made a good example out of the difficulty with my coordination, when reaching for a specific point or object. Something I haven’t spent much time evaluating in my mind. It has been a concept I have learned to work around. Paying attention to how challenging it is only seeming causes sadness. The shock of difficulty in touching that square brought on some of that hurt. Not unlike other exercises we have worked over the time together. Though I keep in mind from our experience. The only way to improve, requires fighting through those disheartening moments. The other side will often bring a joy in achievement, rarely imagined.