Why Do My Arms Have Different Muscle Tone?

Karen Del Vecchio avatar

by Karen Del Vecchio |

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I rarely wear short-sleeve shirts, but it’s not because of the same reason I often wear pants instead of shorts. Rather, it’s because I sunburn easily. I practically live in sun shirts while working outdoors on the farm.

I don’t know how I made it through summer before these shirts were developed a few years ago. They’re made with special cooling fabric so that when the fabric gets wet, it cools. Also, the underside of the sleeves are mesh fabric. I feel much cooler in these shirts than in short-sleeve shirts with the sun shining down on my skin.

Why is this relevant? Because I was feeding the horses earlier today (I live on a small private farm), and I knew I’d be returning indoors before the sun was strong, so I wore a tank top. As I looked in the mirror, I noticed that the muscles in my left and right arms are noticeably different. Someone not specifically looking for the difference probably wouldn’t notice, but I did.

While I don’t work out in the traditional sense anymore, such as weightlifting at the gym, I constantly exercise by mucking out stalls, hauling bags of grain, moving hay bales, and other farm chores.

In some ways, I think I’m lucky I never knew I had EDS until I was 22, because I suspect I had a stronger baseline of strength than other EDS patients. This is because I was a competitive athlete, and I did many things I probably shouldn’t have.

I’d say that most of the time, I feel as if I use both arms pretty evenly, but it’s clear now that I don’t. I know that sometimes when my injured right shoulder hurts, I’ll do things with my left arm without realizing, which probably explains the different muscle tone.

The more I think about it, I wonder whether my arms are different because I use them differently. My right arm and shoulder have reached a point of functionality, but I wouldn’t describe it as normal. If I raise both arms simultaneously, I can feel the muscles flexing differently. I can get a decent range of motion from my right shoulder, but I achieve it with compensation.

So, is it due to the extent of usage or the type of usage? There’s no way to know for sure, but it’s interesting to think about as I do my daily farm chores.


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