Friday, December 17, 2010

Tabletop Karate Chop

The place I go for physio is covered in framed sports team pictures and team jerseys, all with handwritten notes of thanks from players who are now presumably injury free, and back doing their sport of choice. This is a good thing, because it is a reminder that you won’t be doing this kind of tedious rote exercise forever, and the annoying stuff that you’re doing right now isn’t permanently replacing fun kinds of exercise, like, uh, soccer.

The people working there are all impossibly fit and cheerful, and laugh as they see your face when they tell you to do 150 squats, hamstring and butt lifts, or to kneel on your knee mere weeks after someone cut and drilled into it. Unlike us regular folks, none of them have ever been injured; they look like the kind of people who treat their bodies as finely tuned machines, which they re-energize with fuel every two hours by perhaps eating a half a cup of chickpeas or a handful of kumquats, or a spoonful of mashed yeast. Travis, my physiotherapist, does iron man triathlons in 12 hours. How frustrating it must be for him to deal with us mere mortals all day who refuel with beer and bacon sandwiches. But he tries with us, he really tries.

The other day, Travis pulled a rope ladder out of a drawer and showed it to me after I’d been riding the stationary bike for a while. “Are we escaping to somewhere?” I asked hopefully.

Alas, no. He put the rope ladder on the ground and asked me to walk along inside it, stepping in each square with one footstep. While he watched. Frowning. When I finished, he said “Okay, do it again.”

I did. Then he said “Try lifting your injured leg higher, like marching.” Apparently, he explained, I’ve been dragging my injured leg around like a suitcase with wheels, and my hurt leg needed to do some work of its own, by marching. I get the idea behind it. But I feel I don’t speak only for myself when I say that sweaty, limping people who do not look especially great in workout gear aren’t too keen on being watched and frowned at while they march in squares under fluorescent lights.

After the marching, he was still frowning. “Okay, now try sideways,” he said. At this point, when I realized I was both sidestepping and goosestepping through the flat rope ladder, I might have scoffed, because Travis tried to make light of what he’d asked me to do. “Think of it like dancing,” he said. “I learned all my best dance moves by doing exactly what you’re doing right now.”

Stepping 12 steps to one side, and then back again? “Travis, you must be a terrible dancer,” I said.

“What?! No way,” he said. “You haven’t seen my tabletop karate chop.”

“That’s true,” I admitted.

Even with all the frowning, I’m so thankful he taught me to walk again. And in a few months, he’ll teach me to run again, and then soccer is just around the corner. I was thinking of taking him some xmas cookies as a thank you, but then I realized that surely he would never eat anything unhealthy like that. I’m thinking I'll just put the cookies together with my thank you note and frame them and he can hang them in the physio room with all the jerseys.


  1. what is a table top karate chop exactly? (i picture some guy guy trying to play ping pong with no paddles..)

    - man of mysteri-ed

  2. Ha! I have no idea! I googled it and couldn't figure it out myself.....