Working the crouds
I probably just introduced myself to a whole new line of trigger points. Being a mobile unit, I wanted to try something more active to supplement my trigger point work and my physical therapist’s nerve gliding treatments. I walk every day, but I wanted to try something more exotic, as long as it would not aggravate my repetitive strain injury. So I went through the beginning section of a DVD titled, “Tai Chi for Arthritis,” with Dr. Paul Lam.
I have to say that Dr. Lam, who has an unspecified type of arthritis, moves like someone who has never had an arthritic molecule in his body. I knew that the Chinese have used tai chi to reduce the stiffness and pain of arthritis for centuries. But I also know that tai chi is one more reason it’s a good thing I’m not Chinese. I’d be a disgrace.
I attempted to follow 80-ish model student Sybil in a move Dr. Lam called, “waving through the crouds” — you know, those white puffy vaporous things. Obviously, Sybil did not have a microphone near her shoulders. When I began to wave through the clouds, my shoulders sounded like a piano trying to tiptoe down the stairs. I figured it was just trigger points.
It’s a stylish video. Standing on the grassy shore of a pretty Australian riverfront park, Dr. Lam demonstrates the full tai chi form as abbreviated for arthritis, clad in flowing silver satin pajamas. He can step to the left, bring his right arm up, and brush his knee, for miles. In my study, I get two paces before I run out of floorspace where I can still see the screen.
Tai chi is slow-motion precision, and slow-motion precision isn’t for everyone. Chinese people practice tai chi from the time they are toddlers, but their joints may nevertheless wear out or become inflamed.
My knee joints were shot by the time I was 15. I wasn’t a good ad for running, riding ill-tempered horses, folk dancing, tennis, or most of the other activities I got hurt doing. But activities like these are fun; they set character, and they are associated with growing up fairly normal in the West. Most importantly, a childhood that includes these things can compensate us for having to grow up. After all, we have the whole rest of our lives to be slow and precise.