Since my previous appointment I've been trying hard to get that elusive second set of stretches in, which I now do by getting up a few minutes earlier each day and doing them first thing. I'm currently limiting these to my hamstrings as these are the muscles which get the least stretching in my day-to-day life, but I also realise I'm being a bit stubborn and I'll probably get the calves and roll-downs added in soon too.
Effectively, its a question of trying to introduce stretches into everyday life, so my stretching/exercising changes are:
- Stretches in the morning (as described above)
- Raising up onto my toes when cleaning teeth (to exercise calves)
- Changing the way I pedal my bike to exercise calves
- Checking my posture to make sure I'm sitting more upright
- Checking my leg position when sitting so they are not tucked under (hamstrings)
- Standing with my feet apart sometime to stretch my hip adductor's
- Improving my posture when making cups of tea at work (hamstring stretch)
- Lowering ironing board height when ironing to get hamstrings to stretch.
- Stretches in the evening
- Laying with my legs apart in bed some of the time to stretch my hip adductor's
But, I do know that my cycling is becoming very important. We recently had the school easter holidays, where I spent time with my family instead of cycling to work. I didnt realise how much stiffer I had become over this short time until after I did my first set of evening stretches after my first cycle to/from work. The stretches were so much easier after this. It makes me think that keeping active is the key to this, and I must try to make an effort to get some exercise in on days when I dont cycle to work. My physiotherapist thought that cycling was good because it is repetitive.
One other development is that I am now the proud owner of one UNS (universal night split). I have one of these: http://www.completecareshop.co.uk/orthopaedic-aids/night-splints/universal-night-splint-large
The job of the UNS is to hold the foot so that a long term gentle stretch can be given to the foot muscles. I am to to trial this between now and my next physio appointment. In the ideal world I would wear this for 6 hours a day on each foot - but I dont have time for that! Whilst the website indicates that this can be worn at night my physio advises that this should be worn in the day. The agreed trial is to wear this for an hour a day on each foot, and to adjust so that I can feel the stretch. I have noticed that when in bed and laying on my back my feet tend to point away rather than up, so this is a good stretch to do, being against what my feet are wanting to do.
The main problem with the trial is finding 2 hours a day when I am sitting down at home able to do this. I work from home one day a week, and that is easy, and I can grab the odd half an hour here or there when watching the TV or writing this blog (have just swapped from right to left foot!). This means I'm perhaps getting a few hours each week rather than an hour a foot per day. Effectively, without making "drastic" changes at home, I'll only be able to get this length of time using the UNS at work, although that might have a few health and safety consequences!
Outcomes from the trial may be continued use, or to stop using for a while, or to only use when needed. Update in 3 months!
The final observation for the day is that my UNS is indeed an Ankle-Foot-Orthotic or AFO, so in the autumn I'll have to answer my mobility question differently when I get my survey up and running!