How water weights helped me finally recover from shoulder impingement
Hi, my name is Lupko, founder of Tidal Tank. I'd like to quickly tell you about how training with water changed my life, fueling my passion to the share Tidal Tank with the world.
A little background: let there be pain! 😫
It started when I was 16 years old. A little shoulder pain turned into a lot, and before I knew it, I could no longer do any of the activities I so adored. No swimming, no martial arts, not even a single push up.
The verdict: Shoulder impingement, caused by too little room in my shoulders. I had the label. But after 10 years of seeing many physical therapists, the pain and lack of mobility were still there. All the therapists had me doing the same repetitive elastic band shoulder exercises and they all gave me very detailed instructions on how to position and move my back, shoulders, and arms.
The elastic band exercises only made the pain increase. Furthermore, the detailed instructions made me question my every movement, always anticipating the pain, blaming myself whenever it came.
Things were not getting better and at this point I was seriously considering surgery. According to two surgeons, they could create more room for my nerves by chafing off a part of my shoulder bones.
The turning point: meeting the Dutch shoulder magician 🧙
Through a stroke of luck, I heard about a mysterious shoulder specialist, who had a practice in a small rural town in the Netherlands. Apparently, he didn't do things 'by the books', and had created a unique treatment method, that was wildly successful. After years of failing shoulder therapy I decided to give it another go before heading to surgery. So off I went, to see Wieger Heijenk at the Luxor Physical Therapy center in Zeewolde.
First session - lack of mobility (and off-camera pain)
He first had me do a simple test: raising my arms fully upward. As you can see, the mobility of my right shoulder was clearly limited. My left shoulder was limited as well, but it's harder to see on the video. What the camera doesn't capture, was that this movement was rather painful, so I preferred to avoid it.
Let the body fix itself using dynamic water weights 🌊
Wieger told me there are two types of learning. Most therapists, all of mine included, only focus on the first:
Explicit learning. The Traditional and Coach focused approach. The coach (or physical therapist) tells the athlete (or client) exactly how to perform a task.
Implicit learning. The New and Athlete focused approach. The coach (or physical therapist) gives only minimal instructions on what to do, never saying how to do it. Rather, he/she gives constraints allowing the client to learn the best way to do the task implicitly (subconsciously by him/herself).
Water weights give the direct feedback needed for implicit learning
➡️ Client deviates to the left ➡️ shoulder locks itself in
❌ shoulder impinged ❌ limited range of motion
Water weight (while standing on a BOSU)
➡️ Client deviates to the left ➡️ water reacts directly, sloshing to the left ➡️ client subconsciously unlocks the shoulder ➡️ achieves full extension of the arms
✔️ shoulder moves freely ✔️ full range of motion
So, I embarked on my water training journey. Starting of with exercises such as the ones below.
This me doing some of the first exercises with Wieger. He never focused directly on painful area directly. Not in practice, and not in speech. It was all about giving an external task - such as 'touch this point', and adding the right constraints. These often involved an unstable platform and holding a tank filled with water. And - This - Did - Wonders. As a client, it not only strengthened my shoulder, but my body was also able to relearn how to move my shoulder correctly. I was having fun and most importantly I was regaining confidence in freely moving my arms.
Soon, I was able to do moves I deemed impossible before
After just 2 months, the shoulder issues I carried with me for 10 years had disappeared, and I had full mobility
Under his guidance, the pain and lack of mobility almost completely disappeared after just 2 months! For me, this was absolute magic. I could not believe how much improved in such a short time. But for Wieger, this apparently happened all the time. He is flooded with patients who've had shoulder issues for years, sometimes having undergone multiple (unsuccessful) surgeries. Just like me, they all come in skeptical to the idea of quick recovery, and they are all blown away when Wieger could fix them, often already to a great extend in one session.
I never imagined I would come this far. I want to sincerely thank Wieger for fixing my shoulder, and inspiring and helping me to start Tidal Tank.
The birth of Tidal Tank
I fell in love with the water weights I used in physical therapy. They were really fun to workout with, there are endless of exercises to do with them, and it was easy to increase the weight. Moreover, most important for me was exactly was that auto-corrective element. I knew that the direct feedback I got from the water would keep me from developing hurtful movement patterns and keep my shoulder free from injury.
I wanted one for myself, and for the entire world for that matter. There was one problem though: they were all either bad quality, or overly expensive. So I decided to manufacture and market my own. After spending a year looking for the highest quality materials and crafting my brand, Tidal Tank was born. My mission: share the benefits of the Tidal Tank and its unique implicit learning qualities with the world.