Sunday, 13 July 2014

It's Only a Little Finger...

An elite level breast stroke swimmer came through the rooms recently. Bart (not his real name) had had surgery to address a wrist injury that had been affecting his ability to train in the pool and in the gym. His rehab went really well, and he was able to get back into training earlier than we'd first expected. Bart's strength and weight bearing tolerance all rapidly came back to pre-injury levels. However something slipped through. 

EDM. Scarring at level of DRUJ
Bart was unable to actively extend his little finger on the affected hand beyond neutral. In fact, he had an extensor lag of that digit, along with a weakness into abduction. In focusing on the wrist, we, and he, had missed tethering of his extensor digiti minimi tendon to scar tissue. Breast strokers touch the wall with both hands at the start of a turn. Whilst there's no real power or heavy pushing required, the hands do need to be flexible enough to absorb and react to the speed with which the swimmer approaches the wall. Bart only realised he lacked this flexibility when he went to touch the wall, and his little finger was not able to actively move into the position it needed to. 

Touch The Wall!!
The lack of movement was minor. It made no difference to his grip strength, nor to his ordinary, every day activities. It didn't directly make his lap times slower. But Bart knew something was different, and that knowledge did make a difference to the activity that mattered the most. We needed to address that so that he could swim with confidence in every part of his body.

Seal with tethered scars. Needs some silicone?
We were able to quickly reverse the tethering of the scar with aggressive massage, stretching, and isolated strengthening. Once we had, Bart said his goodbyes, and resumed his repetitive journey along that endless black line. Good luck for 2016 mate!

Look after those fingers,


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