Friday, June 20, 2014

Physical Therapy - Exercises

**This post is intended to share my experience of physical therapy for my TOS related issues. It may help you to know some things you might expect from physical therapy. This is not intended as advice. Please consult a professional for your own TOS issues.

Here is what my physical therapist has given me for exercises so far...

Chin tucks.
(This should be called the 'Chins tuck' because the exercise creates a lovely double chin affect).
I barely move my head at all, but pt explained to me how to do this exercise without the overworked muscle firing and tap into the deep muscle in my neck. This move burns up the back of my head when I do it-not fun! But worth it if it will help...which I'm told it will.

Neck ROM look left, look right-
Pretty simple, look toward each shoulder, slowly, hold a few seconds when you reach the point of slight resistance.

Arm bend-nerve glide-
For this one, I sit forward in a chair (or on the couch) and bend arm up, then unbend, or open up the arm, dropping down by my side but back just past my body, until I barely begin to feel that nervy sharp feeling, hold a couple seconds, then bend my arm back up.

Pelvic tilt-
Sitting in a chair, tilt pelvis forward, sightly, don't over extent, then relax and repeat.  I am very familiar with the pelvic tilt from practicing Feldenkrais and their pelvic clock concept.   I highly recommend this exercise to become aware of how the spine is all connected and greatly affects your thoracic area.  Side note-Sitting slouchy promotes compression. This pelvic tilt, if done slowly and with attention, can travel up your spine to open up the thoracic area.  It's nice.

Jaw stretch with tube-
I started a couple months ago with just moving my jaw to the side-it really hurt. But several weeks later, now I have a 3 inch piece of rubber tube I put in between my front teeth, roll jaw to the side then bite and hold 5 seconds, and repeat. I think this is targeting the jaw and referred ear pain. So far it is helping, I could not yawn months ago, but I can now :)

Shoulder squeeze-
Another pretty simple move, squeeze shoulder blades together, thinking of focusing on the lower part. This move kills for me, stretches neck muscles, makes my ear hurt.  I get jabby nervy pains in my neck while I'm holding the squeeze for 5 seconds, and my neck and shoulders throb for a while afterward-every time. Not fun, don't like it, but again, if it's going to help-I'll keep doing them.

Isometric shoulder strengthening-
Make a fist, gently push your fist into your opposite hand, hold 5 seconds, repeat 10x. Then grab fist hand by wrist and hold while pulling back with fist, hold 5 sec, repeat 10x.

Also, and probably most importantly, pt pointed out to me how to breathe properly to release tension.

I am used to lamaze type breathing, with a slow, controlled exhale. The new way I'm supposed to breathe is inhale fully for 3 seconds, hold for 3 seconds, then exhale forcefully-like a sigh, push the air out.
I've been combining this new breath with something a cognitive therapist taught me to do to help with chronic pain-to close my eyes, and as I breathe in, imagine the breath pulling together all the negative emotion, stress, and pain in my body into a swirling ball in the center of my chest, then imagine exhaling and blowing all that junk out with the breath.  (I imagine a swirling ball of gross back and green slimy negative junk).
Ok, that sounds strange, but it does kinda help.

That's my current list of exercises. Pretty simple, and they seem to be making a difference.

Gentle hugs~