So Let’s (not) Talk about Injuries



I often wonder who it was who said to me “you can’t hurt yourself swimming.”

This week, as summer has come to full bloom under blue skies dotted with cauliflower clouds, it has been irresistible not to gaze up at them from the middle of the pond. I had not planned to swim for seven consecutive days given the nagging pain in my left deltoid, but each day the desire to be outside and doing something relaxing has taken hold, and with a fairly free schedule this week, time as well as the wonderful week of weather has afforded me the opportunity.

Today I stopped at the pond on my way to an acupuncture appointment. My acupuncturist uses a combination of his skills in PT and fine Japanese needles to pinpoint inflammation to target therapy.
Years ago my right shoulder, the rotator cuff, was giving me trouble. In those days I remember my longest swims in Walden would sometimes be an hour or more of circumnavigating the pond (and that was when it was larger and fuller than today) then perhaps doing a zig zag or two from one side to the other (I was also faster in those days) before finishing. Despite these marathon swims, my shoulder healed. For the last couple of seasons I haven’t had any problems with it at all. Yet now, given I am favoring it to “rest” my now compromised left (dominant) side, I am starting to feel twinges in it again. Not surprising really.

As I set out from the main beach this afternoon I felt a strange twang on the underside of my left upper arm. The feeling I know too well from being a migraine sufferer. It is nerve pain resembles a wire shifting somewhere deep under my skin (with migraines in my head). This pain, however, only started a few days ago. It appeared, and the nagging pain where the deltoid muscle attaches to a ligament in my upper arm has simultaneously disappeared. “At least the pain is moving around and isn’t stuck” I exclaimed to a physical therapist in an initial evaluation on Wednesday.

I amended the length of my stroke and the pain eased. I relaxed a little more and the pain eased. I ignored it and focused instead on the sensation of gliding through the almost calm water and the pain almost became irrelevant. I focused fully on the rhythm my whole body was making; the singing of my breath, the rocking and rolling of my body, the calming effect of the sky, the clouds and the forest, and the pain did become irrelevant. I swam to one shore and circled over to the other. I scooped out a wide curve in one of the coves on the south side of the pond I have not yet been in this year, I watched the shore and people gathered in small groups on the sand as I passed. I very occasionally looked where I was going in case I collide with another swimmer. And when I felt that old injury on my right start nagging at me that it was time to turn back to the main beach I did a sharper circle down that end of the pond which always feels like home to me and I swam back to the main beach.


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