Day 2 of physical therapy and I was given a new exercise. I am supposed to flex and hold my transversus abdominis for 5 seconds. It sounds all well and good. You flex and hold, release, flex and hold, release. That’s the theory of it anyway.
I’m finding the execution to be problematic.
First, this is the muscle that runs from hip to hip on the front of your body in your lower abdomen.
Second, this is not a muscle we think about… ever.
Third, consciously trying to flex it is a little bit like using the force.
I may have gotten it a few times, but mostly, I flexed my obliques, the muscles in my butt, back, and everything except the transversus abdominis. At one point, I even managed to flex the muscles in my shoulder blades trying to get this specific muscle to flex. No, my shoulder blades are nowhere near my front abdomen at hip level, but that’s what happened anyway.
I was told that if I was having trouble to try lying face down or on my knees, because this makes it easier.
It, in fact, was not easier. I just found myself flexing different muscles, like my hamstrings and the quadriceps. I even managed to stop breathing for a few seconds when I flexed really hard and my diaphragm refused to inflate because the muscles were taut. I’ve always been a diaphragm breather, so that was rather alarming for a moment. If multiple stints in physical therapy has taught me anything, it’s that not everyone in the world uses their diaphragm to breathe, they use a different muscle. I don’t remember what it’s called, I just know that it was explained to me when I was in junior high and had done something stupid to my muscles in my chest. I still don’t understand it because I still don’t understand how people breathe without using their diaphragm.
I’ve had a few moments where I wondered if I actually had this particular muscle. Then suddenly it will flex and I won’t know how or why, I just know that I have proof that it exists… but I can’t repeat on command.
The cortisone shot I received on Thursday is working. I was a little sore after doing all my exercises, but I didn’t feel the need to cry, scream, swear loudly and uncontrollably, or start hacking bits off myself. Also, my life is ruled by the law of unintended consequences. Yesterday evening, I found that I was mostly pain free thanks to the cortisone and oxycodone and that I was suddenly ravenously hungry. But this was past dinner time, it was actually about midnight. Eating at such a late hour would mean impeding my sleep. But my stomach growling was doing much the same thing. Decisions, decisions… Which is why I’m writing a blog post at 2:36 am that won’t post until 9ish. I gave in at 12:30 and had a snack. I need about 2 to 3 hours after eating before I go lay down or I will suffer heartburn that mimics a heart attack, even with antacids.
But at least I was finally very hungry and I have a feeling, I’m going to sleep just fine tonight. It’s been awhile since I got a good night’s sleep.
PS: Transversus abdominis sounds like a dinosaur.