I had my first physical therapy appointment this week. I got a phone call the day before my appointment that Danielle would not be available due to an illness – but they could move me to the afternoon to meet with Brenda. I asked if my follow ups would stay as scheduled with Danielle, and was assured that they would. Knowing this, I accepted the change and planned to meet with her the next day.
She assessed my movement and range of motion, checked my reflexes and strength, and asked about what I have been doing so far and how I am feeling at this point. While I have been doing quite a bit of stretching, she wants me to focus more on some micro movements. Building stability and supporting the fusion as it heals. I was given a sheet of stretches and exercises that take about 20 minutes to do each day.
I start laying on the edge of my bed and letting the outer leg dangle down – stretching the front quadriceps and hip flexor. Hold for 30 seconds, bring it up and rest, then repeat. Then switch sides. Next, on my back knees bent, feet flat – lift and tighten my pelvic floor, belly button to spine, keeping my knees together, slowly rock knees side to side – holding stability and gently stretching hips – but not rotating the spine and it’s a steady motion – for a count of 20. Next comes a hamstring stretch with a strap – knee bent slightly, foot flexed, pushing up through the heal, and keeping the pelvic floor and belly button engaged – 30 seconds, switch sides, twice each side. Next is knees bent, feet flat, pillow between the knees. Inhale and on the exhale, squeeze the pillow, lift the pelvic floor, and belly button to spine. 10 repetitions keeping steady with my breath. Keeping with this same them, of lifting pelvic floor, belly button to spine, I then do slow and deliberate marching – micro movements of lifting my heel no more than 2 inches – focus on engaging those muscles in my pelvis and lower transverse abdominals. Count of 20, and then we continue on the marching theme with lifting foot, straighten leg, lower and lift (small micro movements of less than 6 inches total) and back to knee bent, foot on the floor, then the other side. Up, straight, lower, lift, bend, down…count of 20 total. When I’m done with all those, I roll to my side, feet stacked, knees stacked, hips stacked…and it’s clamshells – 20 working up to 30 each side.
When I’m done with the series of exercises, then I stand up between the bed and the wall and bend at the hips…hands on the wall to stretch the long muscles in my back – it’s kind of a modified downward facing dog – to stretch the long muscles in my mid and upper back. I hold it for 30 seconds, and then switch to bring my hips forward and a slight backbend, allowing my hip flexors to stretch for about 20 seconds, then another set of stretch for 30, and flex back for 20.
So far this is feeling good, without too much difficulty. I had to set my mind to just doing it first thing in the morning. So I get up, let the dog out, start the coffee, and then into the spare room to lay on the bed in there and do the stretching and exercises. Then let the dogs in, feed them, and off to the shower to start my day. My intention is to then be able to continue to walk throughout the day and especially at lunch, and at least 3 days a week, spend 20-30 minutes doing a gentle yoga routine.
For the next 6 weeks I’ll be seeing Danielle for more physical therapy appointments on Tuesdays and Thursdays – so we’ll see how the routine changes, but it is my hope that getting up and doing the physical therapy first thing will be a routine I can keep long term – and that hopefully Danielle will help me to incorporate more yoga into the therapy routine. I also wouldn’t mind using the morning to do a little ride on the exercise bike too – before I’m really awake and full of excuses as to why it won’t fit in today’s schedule. I’m working to establish healthy habits and I know it will take a bit of time to establish the habit – but that’s where a little help from God will be useful!