Re: To Francis and suffering newbies View Thread
Posted by Beverly on 2/15/01 at 18:03

I would be happy to email you, but it occurred to me that other newbies might also like to read this; so I'm posting it here. If you do a search under stretch, you will find lots of information, including my own saga with stretching. I was in different places at different points. What I can do now, I could not do four months ago. I would be hestitant to tell anyone how to stretch, because I'm not a PT and I am not in your body. But if you read my old posts on stretching, you'll see how I journeyed from being terrified of stretching to trying stretching and also some things that didn't work for me.

For instance, I couldn't handle the wall stretches. I still can't do them. I couldn't handle standing off a book. I still wouldn't do them. My stretches are passive/nonweightbearing. I use a gait-training belt instead of a towel, but at first I just used a plain belt. At first I couldn't even pick up marbles with my toes without it hurting my arches and ankles, but now I can do those kind of strengthening exercises. I am a big advocate of doing stretching under a PT supervision. If you were not satisfied with your PT, try someone else. I tried several before I found one I liked.

The eight most important things I have learned on my road to partial recovery (much better but still not over this):

1. Be assertive with medical people. Don't just blindly do whatever they tell you to do if you think it will hurt you. When it hurts, speak up. A good PT will walk you through the symptoms to see if this is pain or muscle soreness. At first, I had a hard time telling the difference. Everything I tried hurt. So, I did "baby stretches" just to the point of the hold until I gradually worked up to where I am today: 8 stretches per stretch for a total of a count to 8. I'm just about ready to do the standard 10 stretches per stretch for 10 seconds. And recently, I've added resistance bands. But it has taken me almost a year to get there. I had over six months of PT.

2. There is no way to replace the value of rest... real rest... sit on your butt on a recliner or propped up in bed rest. And working on your feet is detrimental to getting better. I had a part-time job in a church that I loved, but I gave it up, because I was on my feet all weekend. Yes, it was lonely going from running church programs every weekend to sitting on the recliner watching reruns of Nick at Nite all weekend, but I know it has made a huge difference. I don't think I'd be where I am now without that rest. The rest of my work was at home on a computer. I was lucky in that. Over and over, here I've seen people here who didn't get better until they got off their feet in their work. I realize this is not an easy thing to accomplish if you are a nurse or in retail. But our teachers have been creative, teaching from stools, chairs, ect... What type of work do you do? This is critical to getting better.

I also did lots of ice and heat. Don't ice for more than 10-20 minutes. Afterwards, let your feet go back to room tempt. for another 20 minutes after you finish before you stand up or you'll risk reinjuring. Follow this up with heat. (Moist heat/not dry heating pad heat) I like microwaveable hot packs wrapped in a towel. The bathtub became my best friend. I did this routine at least 2x a day and often 3x a day.

3. Don't go barefooted... Not ever! Get good shower shoes in the bathroom. The only time my feet are on the ground without shoes is the amount of time it takes to step out of the bathtub and into my shower shoes. I can't urge this enough.

5. Massage. No reason to pay for this if your insurance covers PT. Your PT can give you an insurance covered massage. I got regular massage to my feet, ankles, and calves for six months in PT. Gradually I tolerated deeper massage. I tried several PT's to find a touch I liked. At first, I thought it wasn't doing any good, but it wasn't making me any worse and I stuck with it. I really think it was a key to getting to where I am now. Before the massage, I got moist heat packs and the electric stimulator.

6. Work with a PT you like to finding a stretching program that works for you. It is important to be re-evaluated regularly to see what to eliminate, what to add. One thing I've noticed is that no one stretching program seems to be a "one size fits all" kind of thing. It really needs to be customized for your needs.

7. Don't give up. You will get better but it takes time and work and trial and error. Whether we will all return to what we once defined as "normal," I can't say. Some here have and that is my hope. But I and others certainly are getting " a life back." It is such a joy to be able to browse through Barnes and Noble for thirty minutes without thinking about my feet the whole time and where is the next chair. It is a joy to clean my house without having to stretch it out over a five day cleaning. (Vacum one day... clean kitchen another, ect...) That is such a joy from where I was, I don't so much mind that I still can't tackle the mall or a big grocery store without a scooter. And I still am not up for any work that keeps me on my feet.

8. Most important of all besides rest: FOOTWEAR. This is a real trial and error thing. Start with a big shoe store that specializes in European walking shoes or an athletic shoe store that is not a big chain with teenagers selling the shoes. I like Birks. They are my lifesaver. I wear the Birk Arizona and the Boston. Others here like many other shoes. Do a search under: Birks, Mephestos, Danskos, Eccos, New Balance, Brooks, Nike, or just under shoes, and you will having days of reading material. I wear Danskos and Mephestos when I need something dressier than a Birk but I can't wear them all day.

I wish you the best of luck. Keep in touch. Many of us absolutely have spilled out our frustrations, anger, pain, guilt, depression, and general guts here on the social/support board. We are here for you.

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