Hand exercises...movement & control and regaining it... has it been too long?
Welcome back to the Healthy Life Podcast... it’s tip top Tuesday and we’re going to talk about hands and hand exercises. This is a bit of a challenge because people are at different stages. I would imagine that most individuals are struggling with not enough movement so we will start at the basics.
The first question that I will ask in if you have severe tone in your hand? Are your fingers clenched or in a state of relaxation. If they are clenched the next question is for how long. Have they always been that way or have they gotten worse. The primary reason that fingers are clenched is often referred to as spasticity but in layman’s terms it is that the muscles are incorrectly firing telling them to clench. So... how to fix it... traditional western therapy will say: Botox injections, hand splints, and palm stretching, but I’m going to take you in an entirely different direction.
Have you ever felt that your therapist was asking you to do something and after a prolonged time you felt that you were beating your head against a brick wall and getting nothing but a headache! Well, I’m going to start by asking you to find a comfortable chair, preferably one that is a recliner. Where you can really get comfy! Now sit in the chair and place your hands in your lap. We’re going to work on “Training the brain”... now remember I said that we had a stroke in the brain and not our hand. So it makes sense that we focus on the problem and not the visible result of the stroke.
Now that we are physically comfortable we need to learn how to mentally calm our mind. (If you are serious about seeing progress you’ll learn this) even those who are not experiencing spasticity need to learn this and it will positively impact all exercises and movements. The best way we can train our mind is though relaxation and breathing. A fun and good side effect of this is lower blood pressure! We will start by learning relaxing breathing. This is done by closing our eyes, picturing a calm and serene scene in our mind and slowly inhaling air through our nose for a count of five and then slowly (this takes breath control) exhaling by gently blowing out through our mouth for a count of five. Now got it...? Inhale for 5 and then exhale for 5... repeat this six times.
One of the things that stroke survivors often fail to realize is how powerful air control is. We have the ability just through our breathing to lower our pulse rate and blood pressure by 10 points. For those who practice “relaxation” techniques regularly, even more.
12 -20 breaths per minute is normal breathing for an adult. 20 - 30 for a child. The challenge comes from breathing in slowly (controlled breathing) through the nose and then exhaling by gently and slowly breathing out through your mouth (gentle blowing)
To begin your “hand exercise” complete this exercise once per hour for 1 minute. For the hours between 8 am and 5 pm. Remember breathe in for a 5 count and out for a five count - 6 cycles
If you forget... re-listen to this podcast or visit the stroke.global website. I’m excited to say that when our "DO" app is released this breathing exercise will be a part of it...
While I know that everyone who struggles with limited or no hand movement is anxious to see it return I know what I’m talking about. I didn’t get my movements back for three years and now I’ve been helping others for over 14 years. Patience is not exactly something most stroke survivors have naturally... but it is something that we are forced to develop over time.
It’s a times like these that I’m reminded of a joke and prayer... “dear Lord please give me patience and I want it right now!”
Well ...that’s all the time we have for today ... I’m glad we had this chance to work on the fist step in hand exercises...we’ll make great progress next Tuesday and I’ll have some specific exercises for you to begin. Until then practice relaxation breathing and visit stroke.global and visit the tips area... sort for exercise and learn how to use a loofa!
... thanks for joining me today and I look forward to sharing with you tomorrow about hand exercises, ...please feel free to leave me a message at stroke.global or on Facebook @stroke.global.
It really is an honor and it’s been a pleasure sharing today and I hope you’ve enjoyed this podcast... we keep it brief so it’s easy to add to your day... we want to thank our sponsor TCM Restoration for helping us provide this venue. Feel free to share this podcast with others, offer your feedback and questions and follow us online on our website stroke.global or on our Facebook page. Well... I look forward to learning more with you tomorrow.