If you would have told me a few years ago that I would enjoy sitting on a horse with arthritic hips, knees, ankles, wrists, hands and shoulders (that's me, not the horse!) - I would have laughed, while inside sinking into that defeatist feeling. But I surprised myself recently and did just that!
Now I admit that I certainly did not 'trot' - it was more of a stroll through the incredibly beautiful landscape on the back of this gentle measured animal, but I can tell you - I loved it!
In fact, after an hour or so of bobbing gently up and down, my back (in particular) felt fantastic. I felt like I had been gently massaged for an hour. I get the same great feeling after I have danced the night away at a party or in the kitchen with my children!
There was a time when I was scared to move. My rheumatoid arthritis had been so severe and so chronic for so long, that the slightest movement caused me to become bedridden for days. Within a relatively short space of time, I lost faith in my body and developed a strong fear of movement.
This fear lasted for a number of years and I resisted movement as much as possible. While I thought I was doing the right thing, in fact I caused more pain, more stiffness in my joints and severe muscle wastage. It also had a negative affect on my mood, my energy levels and ultimately my motivation to engage in and enjoy life.
I then met someone who changed not only the way I think about and approach movement, but a person who understood my disease, my fears, my self inflicted restrictions and as a result, this person changed my life. My 'Movement Therapist' became not only an imperative member of my healthcare team, but he became a friend, a confidant and someone who would remind me that I could move safely.
Since welcoming this person into my life and my treatment, I have redeveloped a confidence in my ability to move. I won't be running any marathons in the near future, but certainly now have the confidence to attend a restorative yoga class, go for a walk, swim with manta rays (which I did recently!), ride a bicycle, do regular Pilates and Gyrotonics (featured above) and get on a horse!
In fact, only yesterday I wore the wrong shoes all day and I was left with bruised, swollen toe joints. This was much more painful than any discomfort from horse riding! It is funny how sometimes its the simple things that can cause the most pain with chronic illness, rather than the things that we perceive as being out of our reach.
What movement do you do and how does it make you feel? I would love to hear your stories below.