In August last year, I spent three weeks in hospital undergoing a Pain Management and Rehabilitation programme at Stanmore hospital, you can read all about it here. During that time, I saw my physiotherapist and occupational therapist daily, and was taught how important physiotherapy is to help me manage my chronic pain.
I've been seeing physiotherapists on and off since I was 13 years old, (I'm 29 now) and I didn't have much faith. This was because previous physio's were only dealing with one body part at a time. After my knee surgery, the therapist tried so hard to help build strength in my knee but didn't take into account that the exercises were destroying my back. At Stanmore, my whole body was taken into consideration, and exercises were adapted, changed or completely disregarded if it hindered another part of me. I have a complete exercise routine that is tailor-made for my needs, and I know how to alter it for when it becomes too easy later on down the line.
However, the last few weeks I've had a relapse, I've not done any PT since we moved into our house and I've noticed that my legs are doing that weird, shaky thing again. Why do they do that? Because my muscles aren't strong enough, because they're screaming for help, because I've let them waste and not used them.
We discussed relapses on the programme and there's quite a bit of information in the book we got on our first day, so I sat down and recapped on that this afternoon. Not before I had a huge melt-down the night before though; I decided I was a failure, that I was letting myself down, that I was stupid and lazy. But as always Ian came to the rescue and threw a massive logic bomb at my whingey head, and I decided I was getting back on it.
I got up, completed my morning stretches (which I'd also let slide), watched TV, ate, and Ian pumped my gym ball up ready so I could get on with my PT. Bloody hell, they were difficult, I sweated, I felt dizzy, I couldn't do all the reps I was able to a few months ago, AND I had breaks between each exercise. Then, I realised how much progress I'd made. Then it was obvious.
Stretching and physio are not the same thing, they're both important, but they're not the same. Nobody goes the gym just to stretch; they do cardio, or weights, or a pilates/yoga/dance class. Stretching increases the range of motion, whilst decreasing joint stiffness; it's limbering up, it's stimulating circulation. Physio is building strength, increasing movement, and restoring function.
It's okay to relapse, I'm only human, but I've recognised why it happened (stress and lack of motivation), and I intend working really hard to get back into a good routine. I can now see just how much I was benefiting from PT and I want to keep progressing.
It's going to hurt at first, it's going to take a while to get used to, and you may slack off, but if you suffer from chronic pain and have an exercise plan, you need to keep on top of it, and realise that physiotherapy will be part of you life...unless you find a miraculous cure, of course. And if you do, please pass me some of that shit!