Monday, October 1, 2012

Sometimes we just need to be gentle

 I have to admit that I am generally my own worst enemy, as I know is true of many of us.  I get so worked up about wanting to be a certain way that I almost forget myself.  I forget to be true to myself and pay attention to what I need and want.

Most recently, I started going to the gym.  I met with a trainer to get a routine.  Then I started to have lots of problems with foot pain.  I had to alter the routine within a week and went to see various specialists.  I have had very flat feet my entire life and they tend to be more symptomatic than many.  I tend to have pain in my feet or knees or hips or all of the above and I am very prone to injury.  I was wearing orthotics to the gym so I wasn't sure what the problem was aside from knowing doing the step routine in the circuit training area killed me.

I already had to knock the elliptical off my workout list because it caused me to throw out my hip and low back.  Yes, it is low impact but no one tells you how bad it is if you have uneven hips.  Now I couldn't do the circuit training the trainer said was the best way to burn fat fast and get strength training in too.  So I kept doing the recumbent exercise bike, the ab strengthening circuit and weight machines.

I went to see an orthopedic specialist who specializes in feet and ankles and he said, well if your orthotics aren't working then the only option is surgery.  He didn't give me any tips or suggestions, just automatically went to surgery.  I asked the details of the surgery and it was intense and gruesome in my opinion.  It wasn't anything simple like fixing a tendon.  It involved cutting my foot bones and putting them back together, removing the little bone I was born with that makes my foot flat, removing the painful tendon, scoring my Achilles tendon to make it change shape, some other cuts and changes on the other side of my foot and removing bone from my hip to put in my foot to help rebuild and reshape it.  I have to say, I almost threw up on his floor.  He said it would take about a year to recover for one foot and then IF it worked, we can do the other foot.  I am only 35 years old and this was not going over well for me.  I went out to my car and cried it out since it was the only way to get it out of my system.  Then, luckily, I have 2 great officemates who helped calm me down and told me to get a 2nd opinion.

I went to see a podiatrist who I had seen in the past.  He has a great reputation in our area.  He said my orthotics were great, I don't need new ones or anything else.  He said what he thinks happened was I did too much too soon and overdid it at the gym and just need to take it easier.  He suggested that I avoid repetitive motions (like aerobics, doing the step routine, etc) that put too much pressure over and over again on my pronated arch area and tendon and absolutely no jumping around.  I asked if it is okay to do yoga or barefoot dance like bellydance and he said yes since they tend to not have those repetitive steps to put pressure on my feet. 

I had hoped for suggested stretches or maybe suggestions of how to support my feet better but oh well, at least he doesn't think I need massive foot reconstruction surgery.  I opted to stick with this and just keep wearing supportive shoes.  I decided to take it easy with less walking and got lots of rest.  I eventually decided to quit my gym membership.  It was putting too much pressure on me to go to the gym and being at the gym just kept reminding me of all the things I can't do.  I needed to stop focusing on can't and look at can.  For me, my can do list meant I should start doing stuff on my own at home.

My old recumbent bike has been moved to our apartment and I have low-impact dance workouts like Hula, Samba and Bellydance that I can do. The fluid movements of these types of dance help loosen up my tight muscles and bring more movement and fluidity back into my joints.  I can also get back into yoga.  I can't make it back to my therapeutic yoga class which is great for people with injuries or limitations but that doesn't mean I can't put what I have learned in that class to good use at home with a decent DVD, Youtube video or spread from Yoga Journal.

I needed to stop being so hard on myself.  It was too much pressure.  I needed to step back and be gentle with myself. I needed to listen to my body and what it said it needed instead of trying to make it something it is not.  This is the only body I am going to have and I need to treat it well.  Bodies don't just need to be in shape and lose weight.  They also need time to heal and recover and rest. 

I am going to leave you with this great video I found, Yoga for Hip pain with Gwen Lawrence. Many thanks to my ALIGNYO newsletter for sending this when I really needed something to boost my motivation to do gentler things to help with my injuries and also help get me strong in the best way for me.  I plan to start doing these poses this week. I will let you know how it goes.Never forgot that we are all different and need to find what truly works for us.  Just because something has worked for someone else doesn't make it the right thing for you.  It is all worth a try but listen to your body and it will tell you what it needs.

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