Fibromyalgia · life lessons

Bottoms Up

Continuing on this journey of self care, I’ve hit a pretty big bump – since school let out I’ve been severly short on time and energy. And rightly so!  I love spending time with my child and my nieces and nephews!  Summer vacation is time for pools and parks and little trips or even just bumming around the house together. But summer vacation also means way less “me” time, and I quickly started to feel all that I had previously invested in myself slipping away as my old habits of ignoring ME came creeping back. Since I had such limited energy and time, I wondered what was the *minimum* I could do that would greatly benefit me right now…

And that was when I remembered this exercise tape (yes a vhs) I used to do years ago. I found it at the thrift store but then lost it. I remember a woman who used to be a ballerina, bad 80’s leotards, and hip swivels and gyrations. That’s it. But I knew it was really helpful and probably exaclty what I needed since the focus was on small movements. I started searching for it… Calisthenics? No. That’s definitely not it. Um… Oh yeah! Callanetics! Callan Pinckney!

So that’s where the little energy I have has been invested lately. For one hour every other or every third day ib gently pulse muscles I didn’t even know I had and stretch everything to point where I am yelling “oh my good this is fantastic!”. Weird. I know. What can I say.

I’ve done it three times now and can most certainly see benefits already (Callan promises 10 years younger in 10 hours and no one has said she’s wrong), and I plan to continue until my core is stable, my back is stronger, and my feet… Oh dear lord my feet.

It’s ironic that I started this program while having that horrendous foot pain I was telling you all about; it’s as if something inside of me just knew.

After some serious research into why the hell my feet were *radiating* with pain, I came upon this blog that completely explained exactly what was happening with my feet and how to fix it:

https://walkwellstaywell.wordpress.com

Yes. I have plantar fasciatis and a pretty serious pronation problem. And it hurts like HELL. For a while I thought I had a fracture or neuropathy or SOMETING life threatening, because the level of pain eminating from the bottom of my feet was just unreal. I was holding onto walls to walk! Plantar fasciitis??? Pronation??? No way. That can’t be it.

However, some of the exercises in the Callanetics video (I bought the DVD on amazon) were helping my foot pain and mirrored the advice on the site. So I *knew* this was both my diagnosis and treatable. I started in with the rest of the advice on the website plus advice from a running article I read and was absolutely shocked at the results.

But first let me just tell you that the most helpful thing was the most painful thing ever. I cried. I actually cried as I rolled my foot over a golf ball. A GOLF BALL. It was PURE HELL. It BURNED. My shoulers climbed up to my ears and I flinched with every roll. I kept at it for as long as I could tolerate that first night telling myself that it was worth TRYING just to see if it helps. It’s only one night of pain. It’s just one night.

I woke up the next morning and walked into my kitchen to start the coffee maker. I walked down the hall and went to the bathroom. I walked back to the coffee maker and began filling my cup, and that was when I noticed…

I wasn’t flinching, holding onto walls, or avoiding using certain parts of my foot as I walked.

It worked!!

I went back to the website and read up on all the exercises for pronation and plantar fasciitis and started them immediately. Every night now for the past week I have been stretching my calves, rolling golf balls beneath my feet, and strengthening my weak inner calf muslces. All of this on top of doing Callanetics for an hour every other or every third day.

The result? Today I walked barefoot with no pain *at all* today, and my knees feel SO STRONG. I can feel the muscle definition where before there was nothing. Also, my hip muscles feel both stronger and smoother – I don’t know how to explain it, really. My core is getting tight and strong, which is really helping my back. And I can walk like a normal person.

I have been telling my doctors for the past three years that I don’t know how to walk anymore. I kept saying that it just felt wrong and I needed help (physical therapy) to teach me how to walk correctly. Well, they didn’t really listen. But that’s ok because now I know why I felt like I was walking wrong – my calves were so tight that they were pulling my heel up causing me to not be able to strike my heel down as I walked, and also making the plantar fasciatis worse!  Doh!

After all these stretches and strengthening between the Callanetics and the advice from the website, my heels finally touched the ground when I sat on the edge of my bed for the first time in FOREVER.  All this time I thought I just had short legs!!!!  LOL. Nope!! Tight calves! Who knew?

It has certainly not been easy, though. The first night with the golf balls was hell, as I had stated before, but it got exponentially better each night. Eventually, though, I was left with this pain in this one small spot on my right foot that I was SURE was a stress fracture. I KNEW IT. It still hurt after all the golf ball rolling and stretching. It had to be a stress fracture.

But then I took a second look at the picure of the tendons on the bottom of our foot that is on the website. My pain was right where the tendon branched off…so…it could still be plantar fasciitis. So I went ahead and got the golf ball ready for one more painful experiment…

It felt like I was pinching nerves, hitting bone, burning, aching… I almost gave up but then I felt it – a little release! Holy crap!! But then I though wait… did I do something bad???? I picked my foot up and massaged the area and prayed to jeebus that I didn’t make anything worse.

The next morning I woke up and the pain in that area was SIGNIFICANTLY less.

So I did the same thing the following night, and it was a bit easier but still painful.

I just finished night three of focusing on that tiny spot, and things are improving. I no longer think I have a stress fracture – I think my tendons are just really, really, really pissed off.

So there you have it. It’s like I’m working on myself from the bottom up. Solving my foot problem is helping my knees which is helping my hips which is helping my back. It’s all connected.

I do still get mentally exhausted just thinking about how far I still have to go, but I have to remind myself that it’s not a race and every little improvement I’m making right now is a worthy investment that will help make my life better. It’s worth taking my time and doing it right – there are no quick fixes here.

I’m hoping by the end of summer to have significant improvement in my flexibility, strength, and all of my body mechanics. I am also really enjoying reading about Callan Pinckney’s journey of curing her own severe pain. I don’t think I’m going to cure all of my pain, but I do think I can reduce some of it.

Fibromyalgia is such an asshole. Anyone can have tight muscles, but fibro takes it to the next level and makes it significantly harder to deal with. You have to be super vigilant to keep your muscles from getting tight, yet you have to constantly work under your ability so as not to throw yourself into a flare. It’s a messy, tricky balancing act that sometimes send to have no middle to balance it all on; it often feels impossible.

Bit by bit. It’s the only way. I will just keep going and hope for change.

I guess we’ll see!!

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2 thoughts on “Bottoms Up

  1. I had plantar and the heels spurs in both of my feet and it was so bad one year that I couldn’t step on them. After steroid shots in both heels, the “stretch boot” that costs many dollars and super expensive inserts even a talk of heel surgeries with 6-9month recovery periods I finally said enough. I bought myself a yoga DVD and after six months of daily sessions my feet troubles dissapeared. 4years now of blissful batefooting in my yard.So Congrats to you and happy barefooting!

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