My Physical Therapy Journey
by: Jeff Hoogmoed
I’ve had a pretty intimate relationship with pain since I was in my early twenties beginning with a major knee injury. Five years later my left shoulder was dislocated and a year after that the right knee was torn.
When I entered my 40’s the ghosts of those injuries came-a-calling, especially in the damp, colder weather.
In the summer of 1997 I suffered a stroke stemming from a congenital lesion. This ultimately led me to a rehabilitation hospital where I remained for 4-5 months undergoing fairly intense rehab therapy. Learning to talk again, learning to walk again, and trying to let go of the many things that I was no longer able to do.
n my mid forties I began to think about working out again. I had worked out in my younger years, in fact I was pretty dedicated at the gym, but it had been years and as I said I’m somewhat limited by my aforementioned stroke.
The “limitations” I have turned out to be a pretty convenient excuse and one that we ALL use often… “I can’t, because…”
If there’s one thing I’ve learned from my time working with computers is that there’s a work-around for just about any obstacle in your path…sometimes it’s through it, many times in my experience its been around it.
I was introduced to Pilates by a girlfriend who had a Pilates machine. Pilates doesn’t necessarily have to be done on a machine, I’ve seen the methods applied using just a simple yoga mat and a $25 set of resistance bands available at many stores. But I prefer the machine as it is a stricter method (for me anyway).
I found a Pilates machine in a local penny saver for a very fair price, plus it was assembled!
I began with a few of the forms I learned in the past but gained tons of knowledge from Youtube AND the included DVD’s.
It didn’t happen overnight, in fact I can say that I didn’t really notice anything the first 3-4 months, but my pain seemed more manageable within a matter of weeks. By doing the exercises, and not OVER DOING them, I began to notice going up and down stairs wasn’t quite as bad as it was in the past. My transition from the floor to a standing position didn’t result in my eyes full of water from the pain.
My next purchase, and by far the biggest bang for the buck, was resistance bands.
The bands were originally purchased to simulate weight training exercises and not much more than that but they’ve proven themselves to be a very versatile rehabilitation tool as well. These REALLY came into play as a rehab tool when a shoulder impingement flared up.
In my opinion free weights used in my younger years have caused a fair amount of joint erosion.
There are a few reasons why I’ve gotten away from dumbbells:
- They are difficult to control.
- They are easy to “cheat” with, or do the exercise with improper form.
- They are somewhat costly, heavy, and large.
- You can stub your toe on them in a dark room (personal story! lol)
For these reasons I’ve opted for resistance bands, ones similar to the photo.
There hasn’t been a single free weight exercise that I haven’t been able to recreate using bands.
Get creative, look on Youtube and Vimeo to see how others have adapted bands into their workouts. I’ve found that many have discovered them after an injury, many times through a Physical Therapist that used resistance bands in therapy sessions.
Many of the exercises that are now part of my routine I’ve incorporated from my former PT sessions, in fact PT is where I first discovered resistance band training.
Proper stretching and deep breathing have also become part of my exercise routine…
Stretching before and after exercise is incredibly important, but stretching even if you haven’t exercised is important as well, especially as we age.
It can also be helpful for the work related injuries that have become common with the sedentary work that many of us do.
I hope that this was helpful.
This is a story that continues, daily.
I won’t slip easily into that 50-something body that bad diet, disability, or the love of cheeseburgers and fries holds for me! 🙂