“You know, my back really starts to hurt when I stand for any length of time. When I am trying to do the dishes it gets so bad that I just have to find someplace to sit down. Once I am sitting my back pain goes a way and I can do a few more dishes at that point”.
This is what a friend of mine would tell me when I would visit her from time to time. In the past she had had bad knees for some time. They were so bad that it really affected the way that she walked and she actually started looking older than she was.
Well, finally she decided to have a surgery to correct her knee problem after about 1-2 years. I went to visit her once she got home from the hospital and she was raving about how much better her knees felt.
But, she told me that her back had started to hurt more and more when she tried to do anything like dishes or vacuuming or something that kept her standing for longer than 15 minutes or so.
She said “When I stand up for any length of time, my back gets sore and it just feels like I can’t stand up anylonger and I just have to sit down”.
I believed her when she said this because when you looked at her from the side it looked like she was stooping over to pick something up off the ground. She wasn’t able to straighten her knees all the way and she was bent forward at the hips.
What she was running into was extremely tight muscles on the front of the hips and the back of the knees. I told her what she needed to do was stretch out her muscles so that it wouldn’t be such a struggle to stand up straight.
We both put our heads together and came up with a plan for her. Since she didn’t have any heart problems I suggested that she lay face down on her bed for several minutes 3-4 times a day.
But, when she first tried to do this she found out that she couldn’t lay down flat. It really hurt her back when she tried to straighten out. So, I made another suggestion: “Lay on a pillow lengthwise from chin to navel and see how that feels”
“Hey, that doesn’t hurt anymore. I can do this” she responded.
While she was laying on the pillow I told her to lift one leg and then the other, keeping the knee straight when she lifted it. She didn’t have to lift them high, though. But, just enough so that the thigh came off the bed.
She did 10 or so reps with either leg and she did it 3 times during the day with the instruction to stop doing these if they caused any more pain or an increase in any negative symptoms.
After about a week I went back to see how she was doing.
“Hey! How are you doing?” she asked. “You know what I did this past weekend? I walked down the street to a birthday party. I never thought that I would be able to do that. And, my knee nor my back gave me any problems!”
I told her that was “Fantastic!” and asked, “So, what happened?”
“I kept doing those exercises you told me to do. And…I don’t even need that pillow anymore. I can lay on the bed flat and it doesn’t even hurt my back anymore. I guess I’m going to have to keep doing them and see what else happens”.