The visit confirmed injury of the AC joint, as I had speculated, and entailed a shoulder adjustment and laser therapy to alleviate inflammation. My range of motion was restricted by 75%, where movement beyond the 90 degrees between my sides and shoulder height was forbidden, or at least heavily opposed.
"Do you have a reservation?" came the dreaded question upon my entry.
"Um...no." I stuttered. I didn't think I needed one. "Do you have any spots?"
I was informed that all tables had been booked and was offered the bar without a second thought. In reality, the "bar" was more of a waiting area before the window than proper seating. It was the only choice made available, thus I grudgingly agreed.
Despite there not being an outlet in sight, I remained stationary. Other parties of one made their entrances; some were turned away, while an older lady was provided a booth for her reading pleasures.
After bidding farewell to the couple, the instructor welcomed me with a smile and proceeded with a temperature check. I took the opportunity to address comments and warnings from the morning's chiropractor appointment. There was "shearing" in the shoulder area, which led to audible clicks with certain movements; the arm of the injured shoulder was permitted to move laterally ("abduction"), but not backwards, "as it would cause the AC join to jut forwards" - an unwanted scenario. She nodded and confirmed her understanding twice before initiating the routine.
Several variations of this exercise followed:
- Feet placed in a V-shape; the feet were to remain attached (at the heels) in this position while jumping continued. The slight alteration of alignment proved more difficult than the first, as it was intended to target the inner thighs while warming up the core muscles.
- Feet to the sky; rather than extending the legs out such that they were parallel to the Reformer carriage, I was to "send the knees into the air", allowing the legs to be perpendicular to the carriage. The move was a mix between a reverse crunch and pilates trampoline jump, and had to be executed at the correct speed to maintain control on the way back. Any reduction in speed would lead to the carriage slamming into the Reformer frame. "You can do it!" I was told from the sidelines.
- Elevated; adding a deflated ball beneath the lower back increased difficult and prompted stabilization using the entire core. The feet remained pasted together, but the legs would extend into a V-shape while in mid-air, with the feet returning to starting position on the trampoline.
I had been instructed to keep my palms facing up for the entire duration. When inquired for reasoning, I was told that having the palms facing down would entail shoulders curved forward, whereas upward-facing palms would naturally cause the shoulders to roll back, allowing for lengthening of the spine.
Instability in and injury about the shoulder joint meant shifting emphasis to the lower body and core. A cloth resistance band was wrapped around the thighs and feet were spaced widely on the footbar. I was to maintain tension by pushing the knees against the band for the entire routine and extend the legs - not entirely, as this would mean losing tension from the band, and return. Constant reminders were uttered to keep tension consistent on the left knee by continuously pushing out against the band, even on the return trip. Weakness was evident on the left side.
A hot pink Miniso Sport foam block was placed on the headrest for the next exercise. I rolled onto my side and placed my head on top of the bock. A neutral spine was made such that the obliques did not touch the carriage; arms were relaxed, core was engaged, and the top leg was placed at the edge of the footbar. The top foot was to be parallel with the footbar, with the knee bent at 90 degrees; the lower leg could adopt the desired position, just as long as it was off the Reformer frame and didn't hinder the movement the carriage and springs
As with the previous class, I was told to keep my chin up and avoid tucking it down by default.
- Inhale to chin up
- Form an imprint with the pelvis
- Roll down into a C-curve
- Inhale and maintain the C-curve while rolling up
- Finally, release the imprint to return to neutral spine
The move was was likely my favourite of the session, as it demanded immense core control and targeted areas of weakness without fear of overexertion in the upper body. In response to my declaration, the instructor informed that the Ladder Barrel was, in fact, the "hardest" piece of equipment, even more challenging than the Reformer and Cadillac (mat replica).
The eagerness to undertake more advanced modifications was deemed "adventurous", though it seemed only fitting for me to explore different variations given the many years spent with blogilates.
A Figure 4 stretch was conducted as part of the cooldown. Often would the body shift while attempting to lengthen. At such times, the instructor aided in rectification of body to proper alignment. Fewer adjustments were made on the more flexible (right) side, however greater pressure was applied to shift my body back to proper alignment for left (weaker/tighter) side.
For the ninth session, the Cadillac was not used at all.
Approximately five minutes passed before I obtained the order. While the Osmanthus appeared to be pre-packaged, the mugwort rice cakes were obtained from the kitchen. Initially formed into narrow, snake-like threads, they were sliced into eraser-sized segments and coated in soybean flour to order.