Friday, 9 November 2012

No Pain, No Gain Pt. 1

In a paradoxical twist of fate, or “ирония судьбы” (ee-roniya sood-bee lit. "irony of fate"), my physical problems that I made mention of last post have likely arisen from tango classes, but coincidentally the terminology used in tango is extremely useful for explaining your problems to Russian doctors. So how about another long overdue language lesson?

First up – although this took place last year and isn't all that exciting – I was having problems with my muscle (мышца – myshtsa) in my calf (голень – goh-len’) or икра  (i-kra). Officially, it should be икроножная мышца (ikronozhnaya myshtsa) - although to be even more accurate the calf muscle is actually made up of three different muscles, and therein lay the problem.

My technique in the way I was stepping – in tango one of the key elements is a толчковый шаг (tolch-kovy shag), a “pushing” or “thrusting” step (derived from толчок – tol-chok) – was slightly off. Ideally, you are meant to propel yourself forward using your thighs (бедро – bed-roh, which for some reason I keep getting mixed up with ведро – ved-roh – which is “bucket”).

For whatever reason I was using my heel muscles more than my thighs, stemming perhaps from not wanting to stand on my partner's feet (столкнуться - stawlk-noot-sya) as I moved forward. The proper technique involves making sure you stand on the inside part of your feet, which is referred to as внутренняя часть стопы (v-noo-trenyaya chast’ stop-iy), and that you have открытые стопы (otkrytiye stop-iy – open feet), and that your heels are together (пятки вместе – pyatki vmes-tye). If you’re lucky, after a few weeks you’ll have blisters (волдыры – vol-dyr-ee, though rarely used in speech) on your big toes (большие пальцы ног – bol-shiye paltsy nog) that will later become calluses (мозоли – maw-zawl-i).

As a result, muscles in my right calf were getting used more than they should and, if I understood the physiotherapist (физиотерапевт – fizio-terra-peft) correctly, the way those muscles met led to spasms (спазм) because of a build up of lactic acid or whatever. This manifested itself when I was suddenly struck by a painful cramp walking around the center of Moscow one summer day. Being a big girl, I instantly thought I had a torn muscle, or разорванная (razorvannaya) мышца.

Thankfully it turned out there was no injury and I was prescribed some stretches (вытягивание – vy-tyag-ivan-iye), that ointment stuff back in a previous post, and a few massage (массаж massazhsessions during which the physio poured paraffin wax over the affected area. 

Not pictured: my foot
The second thing to give me grief was my back (спина - spi-na) for similar reasons, although of course my instant conclusion was that I had slipped a disc and would be forever crippled. Ironically, probably much to the joy of my parents who had berated me for slouching, the MRI (магнитно-резонансная томография magnito-rezonansnaya tomografia, or just MRT) revealed that my back was, in fact, almost completely straight (прямая - pri-maya) as a result of a year's worth of constant dancing.

The issue lay in the fact that along the length of your spine (позвоночник - poh-zvo-noch-nik) there are a whole bunch of muscles connected to the vertebrae. Now ideally the muscles in the lumbar region before meeting the rib cage (грудная клетка - grood-naya klet-ka) should only flex back and forward, while the turning stuff is done further up. Somehow I was breaking that rule and twisting the muscles that should not. So, of course, back to the doctor to get a referral for the physio.

It only dawned on me later at the medical center I use that the reason their physiotherapy department has the slightly odd title of травматология (trav-ma-to-log-i-ya - traumatology) is because it's a warning. The main word in травматология is trauma. Mood music and soothing wax were no longer going to cut it.

Not quite there yet
The words "massage" and "therapy" in this context are misnomers; those two are meant to evoke the idea of relaxation. In my first stint at traumatology I was held face down while an unsympathetic small woman jammed her elbow (локоть - law-kawt) into my backside. My wails did nothing; "Yes, I know, just a little bit more," as she pressed harder down on the back of my thigh for another ten minutes. And then more stretches. 

This time round they involved me mostly lying on the floor thrusting my hips into the air while another small woman demanded I keep sticking my ass up higher and my head tilted forward. "Look at belly!" she commanded in broken English while making me hold an exercise ball with my arms and legs.

The Catch-22 here is that, while an hour's worth of such exercises every day might seem torturous and make you look like a prat, the thing is that, even though they hurt if you do them, your back or leg will still hurt if you don't. The upshot is that you keep up with the former in the hope that it will eventually not hurt any more.

Those three months of dry humping an exercise mat do eventually result in a happy ending - but unfortunately it's a slow one with no fanfare. The reward comes gradually, like when you sit back up after spending the past five minutes making your pelvis (таз - tazz) and chest point opposite directions for the umpteenth time to find that, hold on, that one thing in that bit there doesn't feel off any more. And then once you've fixed yourself all up, you go and do something stupid like crack one of your toes off a metal chair leg...

Next time: the dangers of the Russian countryside and the secret to seducing women. 

1 comment:

  1. Absolutely physical therapy is good for all people. They can maintain their health with the help of this effective therapy.Physical therapy