…and the other reason why I exercise

It’s called, “Use it or lose it.”

Last fall* I pulled a muscle in my right leg.  Kept up my daily walks, pulled it again – or maybe pulled another muscle.  This aggravated the occasional pain I would have in my right knee, and added some hip and thigh pain too.

By November I was noticeably limping much of the time.  I couldn’t walk without pain. I couldn’t drive without pain. I would climb stairs using my left leg only.  I stopped sitting on the floor because I wasn’t sure I could get back up.  I stopped taking baths because I wasn’t sure I could get out of the tub.

I was afraid to go to the doctor, because I didn’t want to hear that I should just get weight loss surgery. Or a knee replacement.  I considered just buying a mobility scooter and moving to a 1-story dwelling.

This was very scary.

In December I pulled myself together to go to the doctor, or, rather, my ARNP.  She ordered knee x-rays to confirm some arthritis in both knees.  She also prescribed physical therapy, which I found to be a fantastic and empowering experience.  The physical therapist determined that my right quadriceps & hamstring muscles were significantly weaker than the left ones.  There was also some loss of range of motion, but mostly I was lacking strength.

So I started doing targeted strength exercises.  Single-leg raises, seated leg extensions, side leg lifts, bridges, steps, “chair squats”, and more.  All with 10-15 reps per set, 1-2 sets a day, on each leg. Over an hour’s worth of homework, all told.

I also was urged to begin going for walks regularly again.  Over time we increased the difficulty – using deeper steps (I’d started with a 2″ deep phone book) and exercise bands to increase resistance.

I am still doing those exercises, though not every day. Most of them I do now with a 10lb ankle weight a couple times a week.  I also take baths, get on the floor, and go upstairs more often… because if I do it today, I can probably do it tomorrow.  :)

*For the curious, this was the fall after I got my asthma and vitamin b12 deficiency under control and had loads of energy that I had to do something with.  So I began going for walks and started riding the bus, which also involved walking.  I began slowly, working up gradually, did all the things I’d been told would prevent injury…and got injured anyway.   Sigh.

14 thoughts on “…and the other reason why I exercise

  1. Thanks for the reminder for all of us. It is also what I tell myself. I have cerebral palsy & arthritis, I am now 59 years old, & through menopause. I have been from moderately to intensely active all my life…never had a car or a license, walked almost everyone, have lived in second-floor apartments, etc. I raised two sons & now spend 30-35 hours caring for my three-year-old granddaughter (earlier this week she was here for 48 hours while her parents took a short trip for their anniversary). I have battled extended (three year or more) episodes of borderline exercise bulimia, & spent many years trying to control the size & shape of my body, but my genetics are stronger than my will, as is the aging process & the changes of post-menopause. I exercise more moderately now, but make myself do it every day…so that I can do it tomorrow. I walk at least once daily, sometimes two or three times, for a total of between 45 & 90 minutes. I have to push myself for the first five or ten minutes & some days, when the pain is worse, I have to push myself for the entire walk. However, I know how stiff I am when I get up & even how stiff I will be in five minutes or so when I finish here & get up from the computer & I am determined to remain as mobile & as independent as I can for as long as I can. So I really can identify with that statement…”I do it so that I can do it tomorrow.” It has always been true for me; skipping one day makes it too easy to skip a lot more days.

    I think we are both doing well at taking care of our bodies in the best way for us. We don’t need to conform to anyone else’s image or meet anyone else’s expectations or compete with anyone. We just need to own our own bodies & live in them as well & comfortably as we are able to do.

  2. I agree, many people get injured and just sit around, waiting for the pain to go away.

    Well, I did do that for a while over xmas break – after things got royally screwed up. But yeah, I’m glad I was able to DO SOMETHING about it too :)

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