“And a 1, 2, 3, 4 . Move those toes up off the floor. Up, down, reach and stretch… one more time and your toes can rest…”
I recall laying with my two good friends the morning after a great night out on the town. This was a time when I was unaffected by chronic ailments of ME, CFS, FIbromyalgia and Lupus. Tucked up on the sofa, Nancy Jo was narrating the ingredients of a hash breakfast, I joined in the dream of potatoes topped with Velveeta and Tamara suggested we go out for a walk in the Sussex Countryside… Let’s be honest, none of us was going anywhere that Sunday morning. I stared at all of our feet sticking out of the blanket and suggested we stretch our toes to get our blood circulating – we could consider that a form of excercise…Well, before you know it, after a few cracks about Jane Fonda’s workout, turquoise spandex and WHAM’s haircuts, TOE-ROBICS* was born…
20 years later I lay bedridden. 6 months into my diagnosis, Doctors, Consultants, and physios spoke of introducing graded aerobic exercise into my daily routine. I did not doubt that exercise is healthy, but how could I? Spasms of pain bombard my body and I was unable to muster enough strength to lift my body from the bed. What they were prescribing was way out of my league. I couldn’t even get up on the exercise bike – let alone ride it. They just didn’t understand how the smallest chore could reduce me to an exhausting and painful 3 day flare-up.
I stared down at my ugly bunions – still grossly ungracious for this genetic gift. I rotated my big toe round ‘n’ round and tried to separate my toes. Glued tight like penguins frozen in the arctic, they would not budge. Night after day after night I practiced. Meditative body scans increased my awareness. I talked to my toes. I breathed deep into my toes. Over the course of a few weeks, my toes loosened and thawed. They began to feel the freedom of movement. The gentle and graduated movements soon became larger and stronger. I felt how my foot’s movements effected my calf muscles and so on up the leg. In the midst of the Fibro-fog, I experienced a moment of clarity. I became aware of the detailed inter-connectedness within my body, perhaps for the first time in my life.
Today, I ensure that I frequently move and stretch the rest of my body whether laying down, seated or standing. Small movements do count. I have to be careful that I do not over stretch as I am hypermobile. Interestingly, one Rheumetologist told me that Fibromyalgia was often diagnosed in people who are Hypermobile. I’ve looked a bit online about this connection and yes, studies suggest there is a comorbid relation in some people. From my perspective and since my diagnosis, when I turn my joints inside out, I pay a price of pain. So for now, no more freaky shadow puppets shows. A simple exercise routine is to let my toes do several Mexican Waves per day the Toe-robics way!
*Dedicated to Nancy Jo and Tamara
Thank you for reading, FreeMeFibro
∼FreeMeFibro∼Living with #ME #MyalgicEncephalomyelitis #Fibromyalgia #Lupus #Spoonies #CFS #ChronicFatigueSyndrome #Raynauds Syndrome #chronicpain #autoimmune diseases
Great toesies exercise. The physical coach in my stretch class has us doing toe lifts, spreads, curls, as well as some foot exercises (done with a supported straight knee). She advocates wearing shoes and sox as little as possible so the foot retains (or regains) its flexibility. My dad taught us kids to do things with our toes, like picking things up and holding a fish line! Don’t remember ever catching a fish, but it was fun!
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