Before I start this exercise today, which has proven to be very useful to my arm, I make sure that my arm is “limber” by doing certain exercises before I start. I certainly do “kisses” which is lifting my right hand up to my mouth-level so that my elbow bends completely and then straightens out completely. This gets it loose and “use” to moving as it needs to for this exercise. I also then do hand “turnovers” at the counter-top which trains my wrist to move as needed. To do the turnovers I flip my hand over, back and forth (although sideways), while it is flat on the counter-top. I also do my floor mat exercises which force me to hold my affected arm up on its own to the count of 100.
I make sure to put a dry tissue down on the counter where I am going to let my hand rest after it stretches out, and before it starts to move straight forward and then with the elbow bend backwards, because it needs the soft and smooth texture of the tissue for my hand to move on the counter-top. It keeps my hand from becoming chafed and scratched while it is moving forward and back.
The exercise I am showing you today addresses my affected arm and works the entire arm, from lifting it up, pushing it straight forward and then bringing it down onto the counter. Once it is brought down to the counter, I push it straight forward and then pull it back by bending my elbow. I do this forward and backward motion 5 times each time I raise my arm up which is 10 times with Tom’s assistance and then 10 times on my own. The pushing forward straight and pulling back by bending my elbow mimics my cleaning the counter top with a sponge or washcloth! I be sure to do this entire drill in the bathroom at the counter because I have the full mirror to observe my entire body, not just my arm, work the exercise.
The reason I like this exercise is that it builds strength and mobility throughout my entire arm. I remind myself not to use my shoulder for any part of this exercise. I really want to focus my strength on my elbow, primarily, for the bending. I also need to make sure that I don’t allow my right hand (once on the counter and pushing straight) to veer to the left - it must go straight. Again, watching in the mirror helps me immensely with this. And then when I am ready to bring it back, the same thing - I want to ensure that I am going straight back -bending the elbow and not using my shoulder. Again, the mirror helps so much.
As I mentioned previously, and something I will continue to stress throughout my posts, it is pivotal to perform as many of these exercises in front of a mirror/reflection as possible. This is one of those exercises that I cannot stress the importance of a mirror to be able to watch yourself as you do it. It is our job now to train the neurons from our brain to re-engage with our muscles.
Many post-stroke victims are not limited by actual strength, but by the loss of muscle memory provided by some of the brain’s most elementary functions. Think of these exercises as brain games just as much as strength/mobility activities and you will be on your way to independence in no-time!
If you are just starting out - post-stroke - you will probably need someone to support your movement and help when necessary. As I have said before, even if you have reached the point of physical independence after your stroke, it is still nice to have someone supporting you emotionally and mentally through these exercises.
Be sure to check out my Instagram at “poststrokepeg.” And also be sure to check out at this website under my other sections to get my blogs on getting to know me, recipes from my family and me, money-maker ideas, therapy ideas, and latest post-stroke research.
God Bless You, Peg
“Health is the greatest strength.” ― Lailah Gifty Akita