For the past few months I’ve been having regular physio sessions at hospital. Because I have Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome Type 3 (hypermobility) on top of Rheumatoid Arthritis, this means my legs and arms are more bendy than most people’s. Plus, apart from chronic pain throughout my body, my back feels ‘floppy’ as my core stability (if that’s what it’s called) isn’t great.
The first time I went, I was given a back brace which I wrapped round my lower back. It looked strangely like a corset. Amazingly, as soon as I put it on I found it easier to stand and move around (normally it takes so much effort just to stand still). Wearing it has also helped alleviate lower back-pain. It’s easier to wear out and about in winter than the summer as I prefer to wear it under my clothes than on top!
When it comes to the exercises, I always want to push myself harder. So the physio will ask me to lean against a wall and slide down to a 45 degree angle, rather than 90 degree angle, and hold the position for a few seconds. Another exercise I’ve been doing while making herbal tea is ‘gluteal strengthening’ – in other words, clenching the buttocks. Also walking backwards, sliding each foot along the floor. Using a bottle of shampoo in one hand and conditioner in the other instead of weights to exercise the muscles in the shoulders (deltoids) and arms (biceps and triceps). These are just some of the exercises I’ve been doing. Although at first it doesn’t feel as if it’s achieving much, I know that cumulatively it’s starting to work as I feel like I have more strength in my muscles. Not sure if there’s a definitive way to measure that though.
One hazard of sliding up and down the wall and holding the position is that if you’re wearing blue jeans (or anything with a strong colour for that matter), it will rub off on the wall. This happened when I stayed with my sister for a few days and her boyfriend noticed a vertical mark in the sitting room, saying: ‘What’s that blue line?’ I was mortified as I suddenly realised that was due to my exercises! Luckily we all saw the funny side and it came off easily with water. I’m looking forward to seeing which exercises I’ll be trying next, as I find it helps distract from the chronic pain as well as there being something slightly comic about the whole situation. It really is a laugh or cry situation when you have multiple chronic health conditions, and my mid-year’s resolution is definitely to do more non-medical things and have more fun.