So I’ve been trying really hard to keep up with my exercise regimen at home, especially now that I’m reducing the number of formal physical therapy sessions during the week. My regimen includes stretching and strengthening exercises like straight leg raises and bridges, among others.
I’ve tried to do these exercises on a yoga mat on the floor of my living room, except I recently discovered that it’s way too uncomfortable for me to do such exercises on the floor. Physically getting to the floor is not really the issue. The issue is when I’m on the floor. The surface is hard and the yoga mat doesn’t provide enough cushion or support. Also, my tailbone is really messed up from having fallen on it so many times as a kid, in different creative and maybe unavoidable ways. As you might imagine, the mat/floor puts too much pressure on my tailbone and it’s rather painful. Honestly, the pain kinda discourages me from doing the exercises at all.
It’s definitely true that I need assistance/modification with certain exercises. Take bridges, for example. It’s an exercise I absolutely despised as a kid, tried so hard to sway my various physical therapists from making me do them. It’s not because I was lazy. I was feisty. I mean, come on, I used to bribe my occupational therapists to play *just one more* game of UNO back in the day, and I’d stop at nothing to win because let’s face it, losing is not fun. Still am feisty, still want to win at UNO. I’ve realized and acknowledged the benefits of PT and exercising a lot more now than I did back then.
So, when you do a bridge, you’re meant to first lie on your back, then bend your knees, making sure they don’t touch and keeping your feet flat on the floor. Next, push down into your heels until your hips and glutes raise off the floor. Picture raising up flat like the surface of a table, so your knees and hips are aligned. Lower yourself slowly and repeat 10x. Sounds easy, right? Well, not if you’re me and have CP. There’s a reason besides my feistiness that I’d always try and avoid them. It’s because they’re freaking difficult.
First of all, it’s tough for me to push into my heels. I always end up pushing some weird way where my body literally moves up the mat instead of staying in place. Second of all, when I attempt to push into my heels, my feet go ahead and slide every which way as though the mat/floor is super slippery or something. Third of all, if you’re anything like me and desperately need to improve your endurance since SDR, you’ll know that doing 10 bridges in a row is not easy. I’d say I can do about five “good ones” (meaning, in good form) before my knees start to knock inward and I get tired. My quads burn with effort. Which is good but it also hurts like hell after a bit. Of course, that doesn’t stop my physical therapist from making me do 10 reps, resting, then doing another set of 10 reps. (Not complaining about my physical therapist. He’s awesome and I’m always thankful that he pushes me to do my very best!)
Another thing he does, and this is where the modifications come in… he rests his hands gently on my feet to hold them in place. A small act but it does SO MUCH. Once he holds my feet in place, it’s much much easier to do 10 bridges. I even rest and do another 10 without an issue. However. I can’t pack my therapist away and take him home with me just so he can help me do my bridges. Which means somebody else has to assist….but somebody else isn’t always available when I want to exercise. See the dilemma? Everyone around me, meaning my immediate family, is too busy living their own lives to help me for all of five minutes so I can just do the freakin’ bridges. Do I sound bitter or annoyed? That’s on purpose. Can’t help it. I really, truly don’t mean to sound self absorbed or like the world has to revolve around me…..just feel like SDR was a huge sacrifice and sometimes my family doesn’t really get that. Again, I need help with certain exercises. I don’t get why they’re not more willing to do that. It doesn’t take long.
A big part of me worries that I in fact do sound self absorbed and like the world revolves around me, so just the other day I set out to find a creative solution to my exercising-at-home dilemma. Tried to do the bridges alone by resting my toes up against the wall and pushing up. Didn’t work. I still slid every which way. When I finally managed to lift my hips and glutes off the floor, I couldn’t hold them there and came crashing down. This of course made me worry I’d hurt myself, so I stopped. Tried to move on to straight leg raises while lying on my side but the yoga mat I was using wasn’t thick enough, which means pain. I’ve got a high pain tolerance but this was just too much for me. It was enough to make me stop.
Still worried that I sounded like a mega complainer who felt sorry for herself, I decided to ask for advice. Even thought about buying a reasonably priced massage table to do my light exercises on. After more thought, I’ve settled on buying a thicker mat for the exercises. Yes, it’ll cost money. I’m reminding myself as much as I need to that SDR is an investment for a better future. This investment comes in many forms. Whether it’s the commitment to rigorous exercising, buying equipment like the HyperVolt, ProStretch, IdealStretch, slant board, etc. to help with said exercising….it’s all gonna help and be worth it in the long run. I’m willing to invest in such equipment (not all at once!) if it’s gonna help me achieve the results I want. I realize that I have to do my part in all of this since my neurosurgeon did his so flawlessly and exceptionally. Now it’s up to me. Plus, I really want to make him proud!
So far it’s definitely been a journey. One I’m still very much on. It can be frustrating, aggravating, trying, and TOTALLY, completely exhausting. But. I wouldn’t give it up for anything. And I mean anything!