Regular readers will be aware that just over a week ago I went for a physiotherapy appointment at which – due to a diagnosis of skeletal seizing-up, never mind the osteoarthritis in my right hip and compression at the bottom of my spine – I was given a set of exercises to perform specifically designed to improve my all-round flexibility.
Plainly (as you do) having departed with my own declarations of devotion to the scheme ringing around the clinic’s corridors, in practice of course things since then have become somewhat different.
It took me four days to begin my intended ‘twice a day’ regime which, undertaken properly, takes at least 20 minutes to execute. Further, so far I have failed to complete it more than once in a day.
The themes consistent in most of the exercises, whether standing, sitting, or lying or the ground, are ‘keep your back and hips straight and knees together’ unless not doing so is part of the task.
Most of the exercises are designed to ‘persuade’ most my various spine and leg muscles to stretch themselves into positions that, over the passage of time, they have long since ceased to adopt.
One of them is sitting on a chair and bringing first my left ankle up into a (half-lotus?) position where it is resting on my right knee, using my hands as support to get it there if necessary – and stay there for 20 seconds, then repeat. Next, to do exactly the same – or rather, equivalent – with the right ankle on the left knee.
I am as yet unable to do the latter of these actions. My right hip simply won’t allow my right ankle to get above knee height on my left leg, with or without support. This is not due to the pain that comes on each time at all – it is simply that, mechanically, it won’t physically do it.
I am also in trouble with the floor exercise in which I lie on my right side, knees bent, and lift my left knee up in the air as far as I can 20 times – and then turn over and repeat by lying on my left side and lifting my right knee up 20 times.
When the physiotherapist was assessing what I could and couldn’t do by asking me to adopt various positions on the couch, at one point – when I was lying on my side doing this for the first time, she passed a comment akin to “Your glutes … something something … something something.”
Seeing my puzzled look, she translated the phrase another way that she thought perhaps I, as a layman, might have a better chance of understanding.
“Your buttocks aren’t firing …”
[At this point your author very nearly went for the flirtatious retort that, on the contrary thank you very much, he could assure her that his buttocks still firing with undiminished effect but – perhaps fortunately in the circumstances – he then managed to think better of it and keep silent.]
Accordingly, the exercise concerned is specifically design to improve the fitness – if that is the right term – of my buttock muscles.
In the ‘on my side, knees bent’ position, before I go for the knee lift into the air, I am required to clench my buttocks and keep them clenched as I then lift my knee … and ‘hold’ for 10 seconds each time … before repeating the manoeuvre.
All this is rather undignified, but hopefully in the long term will prove beneficial.
I shall report further on my progress in due course.