Monday, June 8, 2015

Physical Therapy Really Works

A year ago I finally stopped ignoring the pain and stiffness in my hips and signed up for physical therapy.  At that point I was lifting my leg into the car with my hand, walking up stairs putting both feet on each stair,  and sometimes at the end of the day, climbing upstairs to bed on all fours.   When I stood up from my chair or the car, I unconsciously waited a few seconds for the stab of pain to stop before limping on my way.   Anne Morgan, of Olympic Physical Therapy, watched me do a few movements and said the problem was my core, that is, my pelvic floor, abdominal and butt muscles, or rather lack thereof.

Anne had me start with some exercises that seemed so simple I was sure they would do no good, until I tried to do 20 repetitions in good form.  We progressed to harder ones fast, and soon got to some that I couldn't do at all without pain.  It was also a real pain to go up to Bellevue once or twice a week for my 7:45 AM appointment, but I'm so glad I kept at it.  Now, a year later, I'm not very faithful with the actual exercises, but I find myself tightening my core and butt muscles automatically during my everyday life, and the pain is gone.

(These are not the most flattering pictures of me - how I have humbled myself for this blog!  Just keep in mind how good I feel now compared to my "before" self - that is the message I'm trying to convey.)

First Anne introduced me to the foam roll.  I lie on my back just relaxing for a while, then move my arms while keeping my pelvic floor and abdominals tight.

On my back on the floor, I march, lifting my feet off the floor one at a time, using my core muscles not my neck and back.

Then "clam shells", not difficult, but I had to work up to 25 on each side.  I focus on using my gluteus medius, not my hip or leg muscles.  Gluteus medius is the muscle right under the back pocket of your jeans.

When I could do the clam shells without pain, I started doing leg raises with my upper leg straight.  Much harder, and at one point I overdid, and caused a lot of extra pain on the right side, which is my worst side to begin with.  It took a long time to work up to 20 on each side, and the occasional 25.

The next exercise shocked me because it looks so simple and I couldn't do it.  Step up on a step and over, then back.  Even on a very small step, the stepping back part caused pain, especially on my right side.  I practiced this for months, adding height, and I can still feel just the tiniest bit of weakness on that side.  No pain though  : )

My granddaughter and videographer, Mira, helped me demonstrate:

I'm still working on the final exercise.  It's my hope to go back for a follow up with Anne and show her that I can do it. 

I knew Mira would be able to do this exercise easily!

1 comment:

  1. Great job, ladies! I tried this and it's quite a bit harder than it looks. Maybe it would help if I had legs as long as Mira's.