All the exercises?!

Someone asked what I do with all that PT equipment. Welp, here’s the list! As you can probably imagine, coordinating all of this is a blast. Plus all the usual healing stuff, dog stuff, Dad stuff, house stuff, money stuff, and work. Sure was a lot of fun telling work I needed overtime in order to achieve a good work-life balance 😉


  • Stretch – lay on side, knees bent, arm in front, slowly open toward back, from 1.5, 3, and 4.5 o’clock
  • C – Child pose, feet & arms to right, butt left, forming a C
  • Kick – Lay on tummy, head down and resting on arms, squeeze gut, squeeze butt, lift each leg in turn … thank goodness I don’t have do this one anymore. It hurt, and the goal was already being met by some of the back exercises from PT.

PT: Back

Started at PT for the back the first full week in January 2017, and “graduated” to doing them at home back in May 2017. It kinda feels like I’ve been doing these forever, and that they oughta be a lot easier by now.

  1. Warm up — March in place on foam square; or on the recumbent bike I don’t have

Without Hips – just before or after “hip-day” at PT

While sitting

  1. ‘Walk’ my hands on the exercise ball to stretch to right, front, and left

Laying on foam round

  1. Jesus Christ pose to stretch
  2. Snow angels
  3. Scissor arms

Laying on back

  1. Pelvic tilts – brace the low tummy and breathe, hold for 10 seconds, and release
  2. Twist stretches


  1. Straight-arm and bent arm rows with the Thera Bands
  2. Lean against the wall and stretch sides
  3. Leg stretches – bottom, center, fronts, tops

With hips — not immediately next to a “hip-day”

At barre

  1. Calf raises + stretches
  2. Front, side, back “kicks”


  1. Straight-arm and bent arm rows with the Thera Bands
  2. Squat with ball on the wall
  3. Lean against the wall and stretch sides


  1. In 1′ squares — Walk heel-to-toe, zig-zag

Laying on back

  1. Pelvic tilts – brace the low tummy and breathe, hold for 10 seconds, and release
  2. Twist stretches
  3. Clam shells – with a band around my knees

Laying on sides

  1. Clam shells – right leg while laying on left, left leg while lying on right
  2. Step top leg over bottom, lift lower leg, then bend lower knee in front for balance, kick front and back, and do foot circles both ways; switch sides

PT: Shoulders

Started these in July (I think?) and was making great progress. But then I flunked out in December 2017. See, the surgeon has very different requirements than the insurance company.


  1. Press my elbow into the small ball for five seconds
  2. Roll the small ball front and side
  3. Wash the wall clockwise and counterclockwise with both arms
  4. Stand next to the wall and push my shoulder into it
  5. Stand next to the wall and push my wrist into it, both front and back
  6. While leaning over and supporting my back, hold a 2 pound weight, and do clockwise and counterclockwise circles
  7. Raise the roof using my shoulders
  8. Shoulder blade pushups

Thera bands

  1. Hold the band and walk away… Do this both holding it on the inside and the outside
  2. Hold the band and pull toward tummy, then away from waist
  3. Rows (pull back with 90 degree elbows) and plows (start from 90 and pull down beside outer hips)

Laying on back

  1. Push-ups with the stick
  2. Rest the stick on my hips, and raise it up to shoulder height or over my head, as comfort allows
  3. At waist level, sway stick side to side

PT: Feet

Started these around October 2017. Yes, that meant 4-days of PT for 1.5 hours per day for a couple months. Dropped down to 1 hour once a day around Christmas.


  1. Tape big toe everyday to stop the bunion and toe crowding
  2. Tape my arches a couple times a week for added support
  3. Wear custom orthotics frequently but not always, to ensure my feet keep changing up the muscles they need to use


  1. Heel-toe walking
  2. Pace for 5 minutes
  3. Stand on one leg, and balance other on the ball
  4. Wobble board front to back, then side to side
  5. Toe and heel raises while standing on the foam square


  1. put the Thera Bands around my feet, then pull against the band out, in, up, and down
  2. Hold my right toes down and pull my big toe out

PT: Hips

Just started these in December 2017 after flunking out of shoulder class.

At barre

  1. Calf raises + stretches
  2. Front, side, back “kicks”
  3. Leg stretches – bottom, front, center, and sides
  4. Pigeon / IT Band stretches

Laying on back

  1. Pelvic tilts – brace the low tummy and breathe, hold for 10 seconds, and release
  2. Bridge – pelvic tilt, butt squeeze, then up (hold for 10 seconds when I’m advanced)
  3. Leg raises – up/front
  4. Clam shells – with a band around my knees
  5. Push out / open the front hips while squeezing butt

Laying on sides

  1. Clam shells – right leg while laying on left, left leg while lying on right
  2. Reverse clam shells – move foot instead of knee
  3. Step top leg over bottom, lift lower leg, then bend lower knee in front for balance, kick front and back, and do foot circles both ways; switch sides
  4. Push out like I do with the shoulders against the wall


  1. Straight-arm and bent arm rows
  2. Squat with ball on the wall
  3. Stand on toes on one leg, just a few inches from the wall, and pull myself in and out using the front hip muscles

From shimmy (lying down for now; will standing when stronger advanced)

  1. Circle each hip front and then back
  2. M&Ms — move hips front to back, and then up and down

Cool down

  1. Slowly rise the recumbent bike for 8 minutes

Physical Therapy at Home

Here is my set up for performing all of PT and recommended home exercises.

As of right now, I am going into the therapist’s office for my feet and hips, while doing my back, shoulders, and Physiatrist exercises on my own. If you’re new to the PT experience, you also get the joy of performing the current body part exercises as homework in addition to the office visits This basically means that I am doing my feet, hips, back, shoulders, and DOM all in the comfortable space of my bedroom.

You may me curious how I do all of this …

First of all, I have a Chore Chart that has rows of the various body parts we’re working on, and columns for each day. There are two sections. The top shows the plan, meaning what the therapists and I have deemed to be a good schedule. My visits and HEP (Home Exercise Program) are checked off each day they’re supposed to happen. The lower section is what actually happened. I’m sure you’ve guessed by now that they do not exactly match. I try … but sometimes things just don’t work out that way.

Second, when doing PT at home, it helps you to have the right equipment is available. This can be quite an investment, and thankfully my insurance, HSA, and/or FSA will reimburse me for (most of) these expenses. This basically means pre-tax dollars are used, thank goodness.

So let’s take a quick look at my home PT setup:

  • Therapy table to perform most of the exercises and stretches on
  • Various sizes of balls for several exercises and stretches (gray/75mm, pink/65cm, blue/55cm, purple/45cm)
  • Therabands are especially useful for adding tension between body parts, such as pushing the knees apart, or as replacements for weights
  • Full round, half-round, and short half-round are all used for various back and balance exercises
  • The sliders, which you may recognize is the miracle furniture slides, are used for foot, hip, and back exercises
  • The wobble board is used to stretch the ankles and improve balance
  • The foam square is used for warm-ups and balance exercises
  • What you don’t see here that are also extremely important are the tapes, such as the surgical tape for my toes, or self-adhesive wrap to support my arches

The cute little bouquet over on the right is actually a birthday card from my BFF, Ren. And when I say BFF, I really mean that, because we’ve been good friends for 29 years (1989).

Here’s the Chore Chart mentioned earlier. Granted, I’m not actually using it for chores, but it meets my needs for tracking PT. Yes, I have terrible handwriting … that’s why I type (or in this case, dictate).


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How I Got Here and Why this Impacts Your New Year’s Resolution

As a youngin’, I did all the fun stuff … ballet, jazz, modern, Hawaiian, and folk dancing. I played sports, such as being on the school volleyball team. And of course there was the gymnastics.

But then I “grew up”. Got a full-time sit-down job. Things started to hurt. I started to get fat. (If I only knew then how far that would go!)

Let’s just say I’ve known for a long time that things were not quite right. A few aches and pains, sometimes things were a bit off-balance, and so on. Saw a lot of doctors, had a couple of surgeries, and things were mildly better, but definitely not the picture of health.

Then, on December 12th, 2016, I slipped but did not fall. That’s right, I stayed upright. Meaning I didn’t fall on the cold cement or ice. Nothing broke. I was a bit sore but otherwise ok. Even worked the rest of the day.

But then the next morning came. I could barely move. A nice hot shower made things worse instead of loosening them up.

Thank goodness I was able to get into my primary care doctor right away!

Got x-rays. Went to specialists. Took lots of meds. Got MRIs.

So here’s what happened … when I started to slip, my old training kicked in and kept me upright. Yay! Except … that since I’m so olde and out of shape now, my muscles weren’t really up to the task, and just about every bit of soft tissue, and some of the hard ones, were wrangled out of place.

Yep. Spinal nubs turned sideways. Hips torqued a couple inches out of alignment. The movable rib ended up behind the other ribs instead of below them. And so on.

That’s when I learned that, and this is VERY important to those of you out there thinking of sitting nowadays even though you used to be active …

Once your bones are flexible, they’re always flexible. Your bones and soft tissues stay nice and safe so long as you have sufficient muscle strength to keep things aligned and happy.

And that’s where I (pardon the pun) fell down. See, I haven’t exercised in years. Maybe decades. Because it hurt. And it hurt because things were slowly going out of alignment because the muscles were no longer supporting the softer bits. But the exercises I was doing weren’t helping to support those bits, either.

The muscles I needed to keep strong were the ones used as a child … those needed for dancing and sports. The normal “workout routine” at the neighborhood production-line gym just didn’t cut it for me. So I stopped.

Maybe this is part of why so many people stop or “give up” on their New Year’s Resolution to get moving again … they’re moving in new ways, not the old ways, and it feels terrible.

Finally got back to work October 1st, 2016, from home (for now) because I can’t be in a car for more than few miles. Like less than 10. And my office is over 30!

It’s January 2018 now, and I’m still messed up. Looking at at least one surgery this year, possibly a couple more. I have to use dictation because I can’t type. Which is now named Dick Tation. Between him and Otto Karect, sometimes my posts (and work) get really messed up. Apparently they don’t like each other very much. Otto keeps trying to correct Dick … and Tig loses just about every time.

I can’t make balloonimals (balloon animals), which used to be my go-to Zen relaxation.

So if you want to get “back” in shape, do what you used to do first. Then once that’s all easy-peasy again, you can do new stuff. But only then.

Enjoy, and Happy New Year!