I have a new exercise to do!
I have slipped in my exercises over the last couple of weeks, due to the tribunal and then the holiday, but yesterday i went to see a Physiotherapist and he gave me an exercise to do to strengthen my middle/upper back! I have been trying to find something to do about this for some time and have asked various people but this time it worked.
The exercise involves lying on my front with my arms down resting along my sides. I am going to raise my upper body from the floor using mainly my upper back muscles. To do this i have to sort of lower my shoulder blades (towards my waist) and clench them together (like sticking chest out a bit, pushing shoulders back and pulling shoulder blades more together). In order to protect my lower back i need to tighten my abdominals at the same time and also breathe as i am doing it! He said i have quite a “good” curve in my lower back so i may benefit from putting a cushion under my stomach to protect it even more, so that it is not doing all the work.
I do not suggest you try it just from that description, but i thought that if you have upper back pain (mine is between and under my shoulder blades in the centre of my upper back, and is often just tender points of pain, which the physio said is very common in postural problems) it may be useful to know that there is such an exercise that you can enquire about it specifically if you see a physio yourself. I will update on how it is going in a few weeks!
I think all the time i spend sitting and lying down, combined with the effect on my muscles of various aspects of the illness means they are not exactly “fit” which is causing pain and stress in that area. I don’t move around enough! This of course affects my whole body but i am just focusing on the painful bits for now 😉
He said that in a healthy person he would get them to build up to doing several sets of ten per day, each holding for a minute or more! I was trying it in his office and my muscles started to shake/shudder after less than half a minute so he said to just do it when i most feel up to it and just to do one for a very short time to start with and build up as i can as the shaking means my muscle is too tired to do it! Oh dear. But slowly and surely i think it is possible to strengthen this area, which has caused me problems throughout my illness so anything i can do to strengthen it must be good.
The pain has improved recently with taking the Midodrine, as supposedly more blood is getting to my muscles up there, but it is obviously still an area of weakness. This seems a good time to try to capitalise on this small improvement.
He also gave me a sheet of other exercises, some as simple as rotating ankles and some more strenuous. I am going to do some of the simple ones and see how it goes. The POTS specialist did tell me not to do any exercises (i specifically asked if there were any that may help with POTS) as i had to take things very slow so as not to cause a set-back i think. I am however just talking about a few very gentle movements to keep things moving and cannot see the harm. I will mention it to her when i am next in contact…
The fact that the Midodrine is working quite well means that i feel able to move a bit more easily and maybe do some of these exercises, whereas before i could not move at a normal speed even at my best time of day and just getting out of a chair was a major effort. It still can be, but i feel more able to bend down, stand up for short periods etc and move without major dizziness which is helpful.
The reason i was meeting the Physio is that i was referred back to the Lifestyle Management Group for CFS/ME by the CFS specialist. I attended their group sessions a couple of years ago. I was pleased yesterday to see that he (the physio) did not expect me to go back to the groups sessions if i did not feel i needed a refresher (i did not feel any benefit last time and did not learn much as i had already been ill for many years and it was not new info. I do not want to have to attend again and use up so much energy on it, for little benefit). The Specialist had referred me again because my condition had deteriorated so much, and “i should be feeling better than this”, whatever that means, i think he has nothing else to offer. He also said it may be useful when dealing with insurance company (for HPI), benefits stuff etc to be seen to be having “treatment” (i do not consider what they offer to be treatment but there we are.
The physio said i can go back anytime to have a chat with one of them (there are Occupational Heath people, psychologists etc too) if something comes up that they can help with, so that is nice to know. I may go back and ask him for more exercises or to discuss the ones i am doing in a couple of months, as it is good to have some supervision i think. So i am really happy i do not have to go to more appointments which i do not feel would be much benefit at this point. The sessions include things such as “pacing”, exercise, goal setting, managing emotions, communicating your needs, relationships, sleep, flare up planning, diet, benefits, etc etc. Half of the programme is CBT influenced and i wonder how the programme will change if the NICE guidelines court case that took place last week is successful… we shall see.