Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Smug about Physical Therapy

I'm a great believer in physical therapy (PT) because it worked for me.

Several years ago, scoliosis and a sedentary job caught up with me. Standing at the stove long enough to scramble an egg was excruciating. Sitting all day at work became a contest to find a position that was least uncomfortable. I was still able to follow my Personal Pace Toro around the yard, but just barely. I either had to do something about my back or give up my yard and move into a condo.

Previous doctor visits for my back had yielded nothing more than prescription-strength Motrin and sometimes a muscle relaxer, neither very helpful in the long run. But after an exam, my current physician surprised me by asking, "Well, what do you want to do?" He ordered x-rays and wrote me a script for PT.

The secret to PT is S&S: Stretch and Strengthen. The first week, my PTist started me on the stretching, which ironically made my back feel worse. I had to clenched my butt muscles when I walked to keep my sacroiliac together. When I reported this phenomenon to Mark, he said, "Good! The stretches are working. Now we'll strengthen."

The S&S exercises were not difficult, were performed mostly on the floor, and being yoga-like, generated a sense of well-being. After four weeks of semi-weekly treatments, I was on my own, trusted to continue the regimen, initially twice daily, then once daily, and eventually as needed.

I received PT in October. In November I was able to turn my compost pile, albeit very carefully. By Christmas I could shovel snow. And in January I took up cross-country skiing.

PT saved my life style, if not my life. When I contemplate where I would be without it, I cringe. I still perform the exercises several times a week, and probably will for as long as I am able.

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