Past results not a guarantee of future performance.
I had my first physical therapy appointment yesterday, prescribed by Dr. Gerhardstein, my new headache specialist, as I discussed in Update on my Headache Specialist Visit. The idea is to release tension in my neck and retrain me to loosen those muscles, and avoid straining them. As I understand it, neck pain and tension lead to tension headaches. The muscles in the neck connect directly with the fascia over the skull, so tension in the neck muscles will lead to tightening of the fascia, leading to that tightening-all-over-the-head pain of tension headaches. Since my tension headaches almost always morph into Migraines, this should help reduce that trigger.
I took my first yoga class at 15, going along with my mother to the local Y, and I was proud of how flexible I was compared to the 30, 40 and 50ish women in the class. Now I'm that 40-50ish woman and I'm not so flexible. The physical therapist (who is about my age, I'd guess) must have said "at your age" at least 4 times in the course of a 45 minute session. "Your posture is not too bad for your age." "It's common to have that kind of limited range of motion at your age." (And the one that really killed me) "You might still be able to tighten up those abdominals at your age."
My mother always corrected my posture as a child and a teen, but when I went to college I took and then taught women's self-defense classes. I learned to stand tall, strong, and proud. After my pregnancies I worked hard on tightening those abdominals back up. It is a rude awakening that I'm slumping even a little, at my age! I had to laugh at myself - she said she was going to assess my posture, I stood up straight (I thought) and prepared to receive my A+ and she said my posture was "not too bad," and that my abdominals were weak. Not too bad? She might as well have given me an F!
Don't get me wrong, I really liked her. She applied moist heat and a TENS (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation) unit, then ultra-sound, then a gentle (Ahh!) neck massage. Since the session yesterday I have been hyper aware of my posture. Each time I go through a doorway I true myself up - ears over shoulders, head held high, abdominals in. I did the yoga exercises she gave me before bed and the neck stretches in the shower. I'm looking forward to my next appointment, later in the week.
Here's what the rude awakening is. The fact that I did yoga regularly as a teen and on and off in my twenties and thirties will not help me now. The fact that I know how to have good posture, how to relax my neck, how to exercise my abdominals, none of that is the same as doing it, now. The physical therapist doesn't see the woman who did all that great stuff decades ago. She sees the woman with chronic pain and stiffness in her neck. She sees the limited range of motion, and treats that. Thank goodness! Being a teacher's pet will not help me here! Having been a straight A student has no relevance! This is about a daily practice to help me live better and feel better, now. In my 49 (and a Half!!!) year old body, not the 15 or 25 or 35 year old one I once had.
I wanted you to know about PT as an option for helping with Migraine. I also wanted to remind myself, and you, to live now, in this day, in this body (the one you're in). Bring peace to this day. Bring healing to this day. And there is hope for those abdominals yet!
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