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๐Ÿƒ๐Ÿปโ€โ™€๏ธ Gait, Not Gate Part Two ๐Ÿฅ…

Welcome to the second half of my blog discussion regarding foot exercises. I didn't want to put all my thoughts into one blog post, or it would have been a forever long minute read. Yikes! Let's begin with more foot exercises. As written in Part 1, my right foot became very weak about eight months after my first symptoms appeared. When all of the tests were completed, I finally had a diagnosis. I was seeing a Neurologist at that time for my migraine headaches, so he is the one who ordered all of the tests. He had suspected PD all along, and he was correct. Now I knew why I had been feeling so "off" and out of control (physically). After the SHOCK of hearing those three words, "You Have Parkinson's", I shut down. I don't remember much about that visit, but I do remember my Dr. talking about the importance of exercise and how it would help to slow the progrerssion. He clearly wanted me to continue on with my workout routine. He was also very pleased to hear about my Pilates practice and encouraged me to step it up (which I have).

As we all know, our feet carry the brunt of our body's weight so we need to keep them strong to make sure they function correctly at all times. As PD took hold of my right leg and foot (temporarily), I knew that if I didn't do something to begin to strengthen my foot and toes, I would eventually lose the ability to walk. When Cecilia and I started working together, we did a ton of foot exercises. Most of them I already knew because of my ballet training. In the beginning, these exercises were very difficult for me to do, as my right foot felt extremely detached from my body. I had to use my hands to help move my right toes. It was very scary for me not to be in control of my foot's movement. Cecilia showed me some great and (oftentimes) challenging exercises. I have definitely added them to my bag of tricks.

One of the exercises I do is for ankle strength and mobility. I sit down on the floor with my legs stretched out in front of me (toes pointing upwards to the ceiling). I always make sure there is enough room between my feet, so they don't end up touching. I simply draw a circle with my toes (in the air), while rolling my feet up, around and down. I do three sets with eight reps each. Then I reverse the direction of my ankles rolls. This could also be done while sitting in a chair, but for me, it is more comfy to sit on the floor. After ankle rolls, I do a "point and flex" series with my feet. Again, with my legs stretched out in front of me, I begin with my right foot. I point my toes and try to make an arc with my foot and then I lift my toes back towards me, while pushing my heel forward for a flex. I alternate my feet. I do three sets of eight reps, starting with my right foot. I mix it up continuosly, but a good way to start is to work one foot at a time. As challenging as it was for me in the beginning, I pushed through and kept on reminding myself that I would get better with very hard work on my part. Plus, I am NOT a quitter!

I have a great series of toe exercises I do as well. These exercises are helping my toes regain strength. I begin by sitting on the floor with my legs stretched out in front of me. I always start with my right foot, as it is the "weaker" foot. I squeeze my toes as tightly as I can and then I stretch them upwards and try to separate them from each other. This activity of separating them is definitely a challenge, but one I am working diligently on. I also practice toe raises. I do these standing up, but they can be done while sitting in a chair as well. I stand with my feet flat on the floor (about a hips distance apart). Starting with my right foot, I lift my toes up as far as they can comfortably go. I do three sets of eight reps on each foot and then I do both feet at the same time.

For me, music is a must when I am practicing. I oftentimes will pick songs that have the right tempo for the particular exercise I am about to do. In other words, my feet/toes move to the beat of the song. Go right ahead and sing as well! I do and I highly recommend it. Keep your voice as strong as possible. Yet again, PD would LOVE to take your voice and in exchange give you a mere whisper. Show PD who is boss here! I have one more exercise for my toes, but I will leave that activity for my next blog post.

I WISH my feet looked this good! As a former dancer, they have been battered and bruised more times than I can remember. Plus, I have broken two toes and had major invasive left foot surgery about ten years ago. I broke my heel on my left foot which then caused my heel to displace itself from the rest of my foot, torn ligaments, torn tendons and major swelling. I went from a very flat left foot to a simulated arch overnight (via surgery)! The weird thing is that I was born with two flat feet. When I hit my 40's, my right foot developed an arch and my left foot got worse. Go figure :)

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