A question people pretty frequently ask me is “how are you doing now?”.
I haven’t tended to emphasize my daily life on this site, simply because I only have so much I feel comfortable putting about myself on the internet at one time!
But I wanted to answer some of the commonly asked questions, and also give you some encouragement, because I know the real reason people are asking is because they need hope.
What is your current exercise routine?
I actually have not done any aquatic workouts since the summer. I know that, at one point, I wrote on my blog that I did not think it was possible to recover without aquatic therapy.
I think maybe that was true for me at the time, when I didn’t know everything that I do know now.
However, I have been continuing to learn and evolve– you can take a little piece of the puzzle from every new practitioner you meet– and I actually think I now have a much more holistic view of exercise, and how people can recover overall.
My exercise routine now:
On my “hard” days I like to hike in the woods for about an hour to an hour and a half. Usually, on those days I will also come home and do my strengthening routine as well. (I definitely need to put more specifics about this up on my blog!).
With the SI joints, everything is about the cost-benefit ratio.
All of my exercises are designed to give me the maximum benefits of working out, while actually having as little impact on the joints as possible.
So I can hike in the woods with no pain at all… but I don’t push myself to do things that actively aggravate the joint, such clamshells.
At first, it seems counterintuitive… I can be up on my feet, walking up hills, down hills, etc. for an hour and a half… but doing 10 reps of one movement lying on my bed can be painful?
I think that many of us struggle with these beliefs, and “shoulds.”
I could really get into a whole post on this, probably.
But for the sake of this post, I’ll just tell you that the biomechanics of the SI joint are so complex, researchers are still working on figuring them out.
If researchers don’t even fully understand them… how can those friends and family members who sometimes question us really say that we’re wrong? (I try to keep it positive on here, but I do know that’s a thing).
So, a lot of what’s helped me is getting stronger. But it’s equally important to find things that work for you.
I will sometimes still choose to use a grabber if I’m really doing a lot of manual labor or cleaning (I just moved recently, so there’s been a lot of that!).
Especially know that I know what it means to be genetically hypermobile, I give myself permission to do things in a way that lets my joints behave in as neutral a way as possible.
Using a grabber doesn’t mean that I’m weak. It means that I know my body, and I’m choosing to use it in the ways that make the most sense for me, biomechanically.
I want to be able to tidy up my apartment for a few hours– and then be going up and down hills in the woods.
A lot of my exercises now focus on overall movement patterns, and getting the right muscles to work together as a group.
In the beginning, I think it’s really important to start with the fundamentals. Learning about the transverse abdominis muscle, and how to contract it.
Isometric glute squeezes, which let you start to build up strength without really altering the position of your SI joints.
From talking with many of my coaching clients, I’ve gotten the sense that a lot of PT’s seem to skip this level and go right for the more advanced exercises. I think this is why so many of you struggle to get better– when your SI joint biomechanics are off, sometimes you really need to start small and focus on doing a few exercises well, versus doing a lot of exercises.
However, once you build up enough of a foundation, then you can start progressing.
There was a point in time when I could’t do a full glute bridge. I had to start with isometric glute squeezes and build up my glutes, before I could go into the full bridge.
Now, I’m focusing in on muscle groups. I don’t do the isometric transverse abdominis contractions anymore– I’ve progressed to more advanced exercises.
However, the difference is that I’ve spent time focusing in on the TA and I know that I’m contracting it while doing my core exercises, which makes them a million times more beneficial than when you start them without building that foundation first.
I have a new doctor now who really pushes me..
She’s one of the people I sought out after learning I was genetically hypermobile last year– a physiatrist who’s worked with a lot of hypermobile people.
Sometimes, to be honest, I get a little frustrated and wonder if she fully understands my concerns. I think it’s possible I may come back here someday and write a post explaining why I sometimes have mixed feelings…
Yet this person also has a view of hypermobility where it doesn’t have to be so much of a disability… if you do all the right things to manage it.
I actually have really benefited from her perspective a lot of times. She’s the one who really pushed me to realize I could do fascia work on my own (more on that in a later post).
She’s also taught me some really neat things, such as the concept of the foot having its own “foot core” muscles to stabilize it– similar to the core in our abdomen!
And you guys, I actually ran recently.
This part is a little embarrassing because I wasn’t so much running for fun, as much as fleeing for my life.
I made a not-so-great decision to ignore a thunderstorm warning because I still wanted to go for my hike. (I definitely don’t recommend this to anyone– I think I’ve focused for so long on avoiding Covid, I forgot about the other things to be afraid of!).
I may give this its own post too, but– I ran. I ran really freaking fast. Like I haven’t run since high school cross-country.
And I was shocked that I actually did okay.
Yes… this is definitely going to get its own post. I was so surprised why I didn’t have any SI joint pain after this happened. I talked it over with one of my PT mentors and we talked about the fact that, paradoxically, running like this may have actually really forced my muscles to engage.
I had thought I’d be walking around really timidly and limping after this happened, but instead, weirdly, I felt strong. I felt like I was striding everywhere.
Which brings me to what I’ve been learning about how the nervous system actually plays a role in SI joint dysfunction.
My PT told me that, especially for hypermobile people, sometimes the nervous system can develop issues communicating with and turning on the muscles following an injury. It’s a paradox, but I’m starting to think that in running in this sort of life or death scenario actually jolted my body into really turning my muscles on.
There is so much more to say about this but I’m going to have to leave it here for now–
But I am so excited to explain more about the core, activating muscle groups, fascia work, and the “foot core” in future posts… stay tuned!