Fitness

Thinking about what makes physio easy

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Early in the recovery from knee replacement surgery process I blogged about what makes physio so hard. And it’s true. It’s hard, it can be painful, and it goes against our instincts–when in pain–to curl up on the sofa/bed, under a bunch of blankets, and not move.

But there are also some respects in which physio is easy for me. People note that I’m ‘good at physio’ by which they mean that I actually do it. Various physiotherapists through the years have noted it too. I’m a compliant patient. If they say to do exercise x, y times a day, then that’s what I do. They’re the experts, offering expert advice, and I follow it.

Why?

Well, everyone assumes I’m highly motivated to get back on the bike and start riding again. And that is true. But I don’t think it’s motivation that does the work on a daily basis. I am motivated. It’s true. But I don’t think that on it’s own it would be enough.

An important part of it is habit, plain and simple. I have the time available. If you normally exercise an hour or more a day, and you can’t because of injury or recovery, then physio just takes the place of the thing you would be doing if not injured. It’s why athletes are very good at physio. I’m not struggling to find time to do physio. I have the time and I’m just doing physio instead of other physically active things. In my case I was doing physio pre-surgery to get ready for surgery. And before that to help manage my condition.

What I didn’t do while recovering? Well, I’d hoped to read a lot. I thought I might even do some writing (ha!). But I did neither of those things. Twice daily physio (with ice and elevation after, plus, in the early weeks, naps) took up most of my day. I did watch a fair amount of TV while icing and elevating!

The other bit that helps is my identity as a person who can do hard things. Cate has blogged about grit and it’s a quality we share. Like Cate, it’s part of my self conception that I’m a person who can take on physical challenges. I ride in uncomfortable conditions, too hot, too cold, too hilly and so on. Knee physio isn’t as much fun as riding my bike in tough conditions but I do feel proud of being able to do it in the same way.

Today is my first day back at work and my challenge will be keeping it up with a job that can be very busy into the evenings and weekends. I need to remind myself that medical leave for knee replacement is 6-12 weeks and I’m just taking 6. I’m going to try to count the next six weeks as part of my recovery, keeping up with physio and getting help with the parts of the job that spill over into evenings and weekends. I’ve cancelled two conferences this month and while I will feel sad missing them it was the right decision.

I did round one of physio in bed this morning with icing and elevating after. Instead of TV I caught up on some much neglected email. Tonight at 7 pm I’ve got a meeting with the physiotherapist to assess progress and learn some new moves. After that, it will be an early night. Zzzzzzz!

Motivational penguin

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