This morning I met with Paul, the physical therapist, for the second time. It has been about two and a half months since we last met. I hoped to see clear positive changes from the work I've been doing.
There were some, but they are small. I should have expected that because Paul said it would take a long time for changes to be measurable. The positive changes were in the range of motion for my knees. They have both increased. There may have been improvement in other areas as well, but not as measurable. The alignment of my knees is just about the same. As Paul said, "It's not worse!", which is true.
I felt a little deflated that there wasn't some huge improvement that was magically measurable. But we moved into additional areas and I see some real potential for improvement here:
* Paul showed me how I should be walking on my feet. I told him my feet felt off-balance and he watched me walk and showed me what I need to emphasize. I need to start with my heel and then move to my big toe and the "knuckle" of the foot. I have been walking more on the outside of my foot for so many years I can't remember any other way. As soon as I tried walking the right way it seemed that walking was less painful. It takes a bit more effort so I don't see this changing overnight. But now I am aware of specifically how to place my feet and this will make a difference.
* He showed me a "test" for rising from a chair. It involves rising from an 18"-high chair with arms crossed in front, continuously for 30 seconds. That is, seeing how many times one can rise from the chair in 30 seconds. I did it six times. The average for my age is about 12 - 15 times. So that's my goal, get to average. And to get there I will start out with higher seats and rise very slowly and lower very slowly. Honestly, I was surprised that I could get up that way at all! I think some of the exercises I have been doing have started to give me enough strength to do so, and I am very encouraged and even excited about this. Getting up from a seat without using my arms is something I have wanted to be able to do for a very long time.
He gave me more hip exercises that I can do with resistance bands, and something for my knee - unfortunately, we forgot to get me copies of that exercise. I will have to ask. Let me see if I can remember, though:
Sit on a high surface and place a weight on my ankle. Let it swing comfortably for a bit, then raise up and hold, then bend inward and hold. I think this one is to extend the range of motion of the knee.
My next step, then, is to make another appointment with Clara and discuss these new exercises with her so we can work out changes to the gym routine.