I was finished with one exercise one day at The Place so PT6 cast his eyes around the room and said (kind of to himself), “Let’s try…”
“Uh oh,” I thought. “I know that tone of voice.” At that time I still looked down a lot but as I sat on the mat I saw a giant blue blob approach out of the right corner of my eye. It was PT6 – he was toting a large blue bolster down the aisle. He told me that I was supposed to sit on the bolster (a sausage-shaped padded form) with my legs extended and use my core muscles to stay on.
The first challenge was to somehow get myself on the bolster. I’m not as limber as I used to be and my injury has made even turning over in bed a challenge, so hoisting myself onto that blue cylinder while it was rolling around was hard, even though PT6 was trying to hold it still for me. Once I was on board with legs sticking out straight in front of me I tried with all my might to stay on the bolster. PT6 was right behind me, trying to calm the spastic rolling that was going on. Suddenly I heard him speak somewhere in the vicinity of my left ear: “Are you using your core?”
I was straining so hard I thought I had pulled a stomach muscle, but I mustered enough energy to breathe a meek, “Yes,” and refocused on staying on the bolster. On the inside I was thinking, “This was your idea in the first place!”
I’ve asked several of my PT’s and the consensus is that I need a strong core since lying in my hospital bed for a long time invited atrophy into my situation, and a strong core is also supposed to help compensate for my ataxia. More simply put, I think of it as helping me with my “wiggle – wobble” problem.
PT37 has come up with some core exercises I hadn’t encountered before, and a couple of weeks ago I finished up a set and she asked, “How do you feel?”
“I have abs of steel,” I told her, “Except they’re covered in some extra layers so you can’t tell.” We both laughed and then I think she confiscated my cane so we could do something else. At that point I was no longer laughing.
I am so used to being told to use my core that it is one of the mental refrains that form the soundtrack of my life now. The first time I stood up PT1 told me to be “Tall tall tall like a tree tree tree.” I was still in a mental fog, but I understood what she was saying and the sing-song repetition stuck with me. My core is like that figurative tree trunk and I have found that it really is helpful to engage those muscles when walking – it helps me walk faster and fall less.
The “solution” of using your core is so prevalent in my life I now look on it as the answer to almost anything. Are you wondering if you should go shopping on Black Friday? Use your core. Does your elbow hurt? Use your core. Do you want fries or apple slices with that? (cough *fries* cough) Use your core.
You get the idea. Seriously, though – the concept of core usage merits consideration by everyone, I think. Since when you come up against a crisis in your life, or find yourself between a rock and a hard place at work your actions will likely be informed by your core values. Even if you’re not in crisis mode now, you will be sooner or later…that’s just what life on Earth is like. So it’s a good idea to sort out those core beliefs before hand.