Learning to use my body correctly, releasing the restrictions and regaining movement - recovering from decades of fibromyalgia - has taken a lot of TIME and FOCUS. Things that ONLY YOU can provide for yourself.
After hitting my physical 'rock bottom', I knew the range of drugs I had been prescribed (morphine, codeine, paracetamol, naproxen, gabapentin, diazepam) would a) not magically fix me, & b) mess me right up. I'd always had pain - a lot of pain - but rock-bottom was the point that scared me into a new mindset. It's not that I hadn't tried before, I'd always fought and struggled, but there was no way I could tolerate going through that again. I was finally resigned to the fact that something had to change.
"Use your core" was the only real advice I got (from my doctor, and two physiotherapists) but I didn't know what "use your core" meant. I had no connection with my "core muscles". I couldn't feel how my body was meant to function, and it turns out I'd never used my body properly so had no healthy reference to work from.
I started going to Pilates classes. I took it very gently, afraid of returning to the level of pain and helplessness I'd experienced at rock bottom,. Sometimes I would just lying on the floor, appearing to doing nothing, as I tried to work with my breathing and focus on my "core".
Pilates breathing technique: in through the nose and prep muscles. Breathe out through your mouth and on the maximum exertion.
I found myself doing a few basic exercises at the easiest levels, constantly monitoring my body and its pain. I began to realise just how wrecked my body was - tense, restricted, twisted and compressed.
I'd always felt self-conscious doing anything physical, but the fear of pain outweighed the fear of looking stupid and, after a few sessions, familiarity with the methods made the sessions much more mentally comfortable. I stuck with it.
I did about 30 Pilates classes in a couple of months. I had several Pilates' instructors, each with a differing approach and perspective. I learned something from all of them, and I'm glad I stuck with the classes that I wasn't keen on the first time round. Each approach gave me another piece of the puzzle to how to start using my body better.
TIP: A lot of Pilates videos are available online. Watch a selection. Look for the ones that take it slow. Pilates should be about gentle, controlled movement.
Rewatch the exercise a few times. Pick up on the details.
Don't try to keep up. Find an exercise that feels right for you, stop the video, and have a practice.
Listen to you body.
Only do the exercises you can do! I couldn't pick up a leg, lie straight on my side .
The roll down... curling action.
Arm front to back and all the way round.
I also tried to swim most days. At first I was doing lengths (not many!), with as much time as I could in the steam room, sauna and jacuzzi - things I'd historically sought out given the chance. After attending a few aqua areobics classe, the swimming morphed into just spending time in the pool, moving as felt natural and using various floats as aids to feel my balance (or lack thereof) and doing to odd length in between.
In the early months I was constantly monitoring my pain - where on my body was worst at a particular time, how the pains changed and shifted as I moved. I become more aware of my posture - of how my body was positioned (badly). Within a few weeks I began to notice what muscles were activating as I tried to do an exercise, and of just how restricted my movement was. I could feel how I braced my body to do many of the exercises. I needed to reset my body, to break the bad habits of a life-time.
After a few weeks I could feel new muscles activating. I could also feel how much I used the wrong areas of muscle e.g feeling my neck muscles taking the strain as I tried to sit up, my lateral abdominals tight and restricted.
I was "rolling down" at every opportunity. A simple exercise that felt good.
I could feel 'releases' in my back allowing my to roll-down a little further each time, gaining a little more movement.
Three months after rock bottom, the blanket of depression lifted as I stood up from a roll-down.
I felt it sweep up my face and over the back of my head as I stood up from a roll down. It was that dramatic. A layer of tension broken, I felt the 'fibro fog' be blown away. Everything felt different. Better. I had some hope. It was that amazing. That's the day I started my healing diary and knew I had something important to share. Since then, it's been a slow, hard slog to release all my physical tensions and get back to Base-Line healthy.
It wasn't the end of my emotional issues, but from that day on I knew my years of pain (both physical and mental) stemmed from a physical problem. I that recovery was possible.
It was only after many months of work, when I had developed a strong connection to my Base-Line, that I realised how twisted and mis-aligned I truly was.
Focusing on my main muscles of movement and working towards body alignment.
Feeling how to heal guided by my sense of conscious proprioception
Every time I focused on activating my Base-Line muscles I was gaining a little more freedom to move, slowing regaining a full natural range of movement.
I could feel when my Base-Line was as 'strong and long' as I could make it, areas that had been compensating for the lack of support could relax. release the pain I had been carrying around for decades.
Now I feel better than I ever have before.
Patterns were developing as I practiced the roll-down. A little routine of various movements. Movements that felt right, good, natural - guided by my developing sense of conscious proprioception.
Swinging my arms, bending my legs, altering my foot positions, moving my head from side to side...
Healing from my Base-Line outwards
I had no idea how far I could come. How flexible I am now, and how much movement I was missing before. How easy movement is when the body is balanced.Plucking strings. (hamstrings) electric shocks. These were scary at first. Never forced but as my confidence grew and trust in the process. Every so often a full leg twang that made me swear.
It took a lot of time and focus to train myself to activate my main muscles of movement correctly. I had Layer upon layer of pain and restrictions that I had to work through, stored trauma.
Thinking of my Base-Line as a chain of lights to be activated in turn.
As I engage my pelvic floor Base, I think "red".
Then "orange, yellow, green, blue" up my rectus abdominis Line.
I don't think the exact description matters. Find something that works for you - whatever helps you to focus on the right muscles working to build the connection.
My technique developed as I progressed and my sense of conscious proprioception developed.
I have tried to describe my evolving connection to my Base-Line, but it is something to learn about by experiencing, not reading.
I have come to believe that using your Base-Line muscles fully is the basis of the chakra system and that many traditional exercise forms are trying to teach the correct usage of the main muscles of movement.
I am not the first to feel the power of my Base-Line, but no-one else has put it in these anatomical terms as far as I can find.