So I've been really struggling the last four months, with limited mobility and having to work through physical therapy (2 hours per night, and not much time left for anything else).
It turns out I'm too flexible, which in my case means that my ligaments are too stretchy and don't do a good job of holding my joints together, so I need to work on strengthening my muscles (and using REALLY GOOD POSTURE), to compensate. (It's kind of like being double-jointed, but in this case, it's my spine, hips, knees and ankles that are double-jointed.)
So a couple weeks ago, I finally had my last physical therapy appointment (though I'm still supposed to keep doing the same strengthening exercises on an ongoing basis, so I don't lose progress). I'm allowed to go back to "normal activity" as long as I'm reasonable and don't push myself too hard. But I've really been struggling with the fear thing -- last time I started really exercising more, I threw myself into four months of physical therapy, and I know more now, but I keep worrying about a repeat.
I've been doing my research, and it seems really clear-cut that people with hyperlaxity (the technical term for being ridiculously flexible) do better when they're in good shape and exercising regularly. But we're also at higher risk for sprains and dislocations and other exercise-related injury! So every time I started to think "I should work out" for the last couple weeks, I got sidetracked by "but what if..." and "maybe I should wait until I feel a little better."
But yesterday I came home exhausted and fell into bed. Which meant that today I woke up at 4:30, feeling well-rested. (4:30 by the way is ridiculously early for me.) And I thought... well, I can just go for a short walk. So I did most of my morning routine, while I waited for the sun to come up. Then I got my timer, and right next to it were the light (2 pound) weights I use for my physical therapy, and I thought... well, maybe I'll just take the weights too, and see how that goes. Besides, then I can beat off any would-be muggers. Or something.
So I set my timer for 15 minutes, and started walking. And then I thought... well, walking is surprisingly painless this morning. Maybe I can jog just up to the cross-street there. So I did! And it didn't hurt! But I went back to walking for a bit, because I was out of breath.
So I set myself a challenge of just jogging around the curvy parts of the cul-de-sacs in our neighborhood, and walking the rest of the time. And that worked fine. And then I got to the end of my 15 minutes, and I was right across the street from my house. And I thought... well, I left myself 5 minutes to get home, but I'm already home, so why don't I take another 15 minutes? And I reset my timer!
I didn't get quite through the second 15 minutes... I came up about 1 minute and 20 seconds short. But since it was bonus time, I felt good about it anyway.
Now my hip is a little unhappy with me, but it often is anyway, so I'm not worried about it. And if I can get back in good shape, that should fix itself up (though I still need to also do the physical therapy thing).
But I feel like I can do this now, which hasn't been the case. I'd been feeling really helpless, so it's nice to know what works, because now I can repeat it. And I'm really excited about trying to do this tomorrow! Me! Excited about exercise! Who'd ever have thought???
(In retrospect, I think mornings are generally going to be better for me because I don't have a full day's worth of spinal compression to fight against -- the strengthening exercises I'm doing are to improve my core muscles so they can hold my spine at full extension instead of letting it collapse down on itself.)