Asymmetry Is A Natural Part Of My One-Handed Life

Naturally I am asymmetrical. I was born like this. I was born without my left hand and have lived my entire life with arms of different lengths. Generally speaking, I am very comfortable with with my one-handed life. Or maybe I should say I am very comfortable with the idea of living an asymmetrical life. Conceptually, living life with one hand is not such a big deal. It is the way I was born and therefore I like to say it is “natural” for me. However, physically living a one-handed life in a two-handed world is a much bigger deal.

Having arms of two different lengths works on my body in two different ways. My muscles develop unevenly (asymmetrically) due to the difference in torque each arm expresses. This becomes so very apparent when doing yoga, Aikido, or even doing push-ups. The older I get the more I start to notice the affect this has on my body, especially my spine. Since different muscles develop differently on each side of my body due to the uneven lengths of my arms, my spine has a slight curve to account for the difference in development. Over the course of this one-handed life I have over and under used certain aspects of my right and left arms. They each hurt differently in different places for different reasons. Sometimes my right hand, wrist, and forearm will hurt from by simply being overused.

One Hand, Workouts, Bootcamp, Crossfit, Blog, Storytelling, Disability

Living an asymmetrical one-handed life, AlejAndro has noticed how doing Bootcamp style workouts has an uneven affect on his body.

After a week at the gym I can really fell how certain exercises have their affect on my body. I been doing a lot of “bootcamp” type training. So there is a fair amount of climbing obstacles, doing burpees, push-ups and pull-ups, and all types of activities I have never heard before I started training. The first thing I noticed after two back-to-back days was how much my right hip area hurt. This has to do with exerting force with my left leg and right arm to compensate for my short left arm. I am doing extra yoga and stretching classes to make up for this and trying to work on my form. Yet some exercises really demand symmetry. To do otherwise only causes pain.

One example are doing burpees. This is where you jump into the air, then drop into a squat, jump low into a push-up, jump back into a squat, and finish by jumping back into the air. Then you just do it over and over and over again. This is most challenging without two hand. My left shoulder and chest area get more of a workout than the muscles on my right arm and side. Then we added a medicine-ball to the workout. Holding the medicine-ball in a squat I jump up and throw the ball against a wall, do my burpee, then pick up the ball and start all over again. Since my arms of different lengths holding and throwing the ball affects my body in different ways and areas. It was during this exercise I noticed my right hip starting to hurt.

I need to be very mindful how my body feels and not overdo any workout or overextend to compensate for my short arm. Then I need to look for other ways to get a solid work-out in non-traditional “two-handed” ways. All the variations of pull-ups and pull-up based exercises are not easily accessible to me in most gyms. I need to find ways to modify things to fit my body. I actually enjoy the “bootcamp” style workout. But I do not feel I am getting a good upper body workout right now. I will just have to wait and see. I might have to spend more time on weightlifting machine to help my short side.

In the end the process of getting more healthy with one hand and asymmetrical arms is like learning about myself all over again. This is a much different process than training and practicing Aikido. Yet very similar in other ways. Yes, at times it can be a bit challenging. However, I find it to be a way to be creative and an opportunity to solve problems. Overall, I think it can be a lot of fun.

To listen to the story of how working out with one hand has affect my body for the course of this life I invite you to listen to my One Hand Speaks Storytelling Podcast Episode OHS043.

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