About a month ago some friends of mine, Marcella and Tanwen, who have recently been performing flying trapeze with No Fit State Circus, moved back to London. Since they came back we’ve been flying together once or twice a week. It’s the first time in about 8 years that I’ve been on the flying trapeze regularly (for anything more than just a swing or two).
The reason I stopped flying was that I suffered from bad shoulders. I’ve had trouble with them ever since I was a teenager but it had gotten to the point where if I flew for an hour on the trapeze, I wouldn’t be able to lift my arms or brush my teeth without pain for a week.
Over the years I’ve seen tons of physiotherapists, osteopaths, chiropractors, acupuncturists, Dorn Method practitioners, had Reiki, steroid injections and more. You name it, I’ve probably tried it (or at least looked into it!). Nothing seemed to work. Some treatments would have a little benefit but nothing really seemed to do the trick. So, reluctantly, I decided to stop flying. The pain I was suffering post-trapeze just wasn’t worth it. At some point along the way I was diagnosed under ultrasound with tendinitis in one shoulder and bursitis in the other. The consultant surgeon told me that steroid injections and/or an operation were the only things that could possibly help.
And then, earlier this year, I read The Four-Hour Body by Tim Ferriss. In his book there’s a chapter in which Tim talks about reversing irreversible injuries and goes through various treatments he’s had. One of the most interesting to me was Active Release Technique which I hadn’t heard of before. I decided to try it out and set about finding an ART practitioner. I didn’t have to look far. There are only 8 ART practitioners within the M25 and not all of them are fully certified master practitioners but one of the master practitioners was 5 minutes away from home. Result!
I started seeing Mark Warren from Active Chiropractic a few months ago. At the time, I could hold a telephone to my ear for about 30-60 seconds before I had to change arms because of the searing, burning sensation in my shoulder. As well as chiropractic treatments and ART, Mark also does Graston technique which is possibly the most painful treatment I’ve ever had. It’s something like torture. More often than not, I’ll get a combo of chiropractic, ART and Graston and regularly discover bruises the next day. It’s awesome. But it isn’t just pain for pain’s sake. I can now talk on the phone for more than 5 minutes before my shoulder gets tired. And although that may sound pathetic and pitiful to you, to me it is a noticeable and measurable difference in my day to day life.
So when Marcella and Tan came back to London, we started flying. I hoped for the best (no aftermath of pain) but expected the worst (a week of pain brushing my teeth). I seem to have landed somewhere in between: a couple of days of about 50% of the pain I would normally get. I can handle that.
So I’ve been back on the board about once or twice a week for the last four weeks! I’m scared doing many of the tricks I used to do without blinking but I’m taking it one trick at a time – first on the safety lines, then without them. Last week I did a pass to a catcher and a return to the platform (with lines) and today I did a mise en ventre (without the lines) both for the first time in about 8 years. And my hands are starting to callous again!
It feels good to be back in the air!!