The good news out of this morning's physical therapy appointment with Cathy: my sacro-iliac joint once again stayed in place on its own for a full week, and my long-forgotten transverse abdominus muscle, after a week of me attempting to reacquaint my brain with it, appears to be more in play when I lift my legs while lying down.
So....I have graduated to some harder exercises (though I do have to continue with last week's as well). The new exercises include:
1. Sitting Alternating Leg Raises on the Swiss Ball
Cathy, in demonstrating this, sat right down on the ball, knees bent and back ramrod straight, and lifted each bent knee in turn without any sideways movement or any slumping at all. Me? I sat down and could not get ONE foot, or even a heel alone, off the ground without leaning to the side. So while that deep ab muscle is waking up, it's still pretty sleepy and not ready to do its job. I asked Cathy why I can do a two-minute plank but not this. She said most abs programs emphasize the "high-load" muscles but entirely ignore these deeper muscles and the subtle movements they require.
I'd be really curious to hear from those of you who have a ball at home and can try this. I'm betting most of you will wonder what the big deal is, but there may be some of you who (like me) find this hard. Cathy told me she once treated a professional triathlete with back pain who was so frustrated at not being able to do this that she said, rudely, to Cathy: "YOU can do this. Why can't I?" Cathy apparently is a horsewoman and keeping her abs very strong and stable matters a lot. Tough for even a fit Boulder triathlete (with a weak transverse) to compete with that!
2. Rowing on the Swiss Ball with a "Theraband"--arms bent and then arms straight
3. Biceps curls on the Swiss Ball with a "Theraband"
Again, the emphasis is on straight posture, not slumping, keeping those abs engaged (and therefore my angry back relaxed).
4. Standing Leg Swings
This one is for the glutes. Stand on one leg, holding either a pole or a counter for support, and do leg swings to the side with the opposite leg. On the left side, I could not do this without leaning left. The object is to get to where I can stand and do the lifts with my body straight and tall, feeling it in, as Cathy says in her Australian accent, my "bum."
After she showed me these exercises, I got back on the table for some more needling (the QL and piriformis, along with the sacrum, are still sore, though much better than last week). She got right into the worst part of my back this time, and it already feels better. Tomorrow I have another massage with Kate. And I'm still in the belt. Wearing the belt has eliminated my hamstring pain, and it makes all of my pants feel artificially tight, which is helping me rein in the eating (seriously!). However, I'll be glad when I can start going without it for periods of time, because I also have a permanent wedgie whenever it's on.
Tomorrow is my "on" day with my friend the recumbent bike. I'd really like to go longer than 30 minutes for these sessions, but I'm
going to stick to that limit for another week before, depending on how
my back is after another week of TLC, asking next week for either more
frequent outings or longer sessions on it. Or both. Wouldn't both be
Thanks to the intervals I've been doing (and some good tunes on my iPod), I'm finding the bike much less boring than I did at first. I do a lot of visualization there. During the fast intervals, I like to pretend I'm Desiree Davila hanging on in the Boston Marathon, picking off Kenyons (hey, a girl can dream!). I also like to picture the Boston finish line, which I know many of you will be crossing very soon (luckies!). But I also just imagine myself running, not particularly fast or particularly slow, just running with the wind in my hair, no pain in my back, no pain at all in fact but instead the pleasure of forward motion, freedom, suppleness of limb, the best kind of solitude, good health and a quiet mind.
It *will* happen for me.