Today’s exercise addresses the affected arm after a stroke, and in my case the right arm. I have already shared with you, and shown you, my other two daily arm therapy exercises which were the “Up ‘N Overs” and the “Touchdowns.” Both of those I generally do twenty-five reps each and two-three sets (times) per day (after breakfast, after lunch and before dinner, provided I have the time to do three sets in the day).
The reason I like this exercise is because I am able to work out my entire arm which is getting it back in shape for doing what it did before my stroke (like cooking, cleaning, laundry - ha!). This exercise, the “Butterfly,” along with the “Up ‘N Overs” and the “Touchdowns,” make me work my upper arms, my elbow and my wrist.
As mentioned in my video on Instagram (poststrokepeg), 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. I will describe in another post the reasoning behind this in more detail. It is our job now to train the neurons from our brain to re-engage with our muscles.
Start by standing in front of a mirror/reflection with the mind focused on your arm’s relationship to the rest of your body during this exercise. Think about how all the muscles in your body are working together to enable this movement. How is this possible? Be sure to ask yourself, “What exactly am I moving to produce this motion? How can I replicate this myself? What daily chores/routines call to use this type of movement?”
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!
Today’s Therapy/Exercise focuses on the affected arm by utilizing a wide range of motion. Similar to “Up ‘N Downs,” this exercise gives you the opportunity to really move your entire affected arm - specifically targeting the range of motion you wish to achieve fully with your shoulder. (Note - I work this exercise with Tom - though I am working everyday to ensure that I am giving more of myself and using less of him.)
Start by standing straight and facing a mirror/reflection so you can watch your reflection during every move. Remember...it is very important to watch your body parts (more than just the affected arm in this case) move during recovery therapy/exercises because it retrains your brain.
With your hand at your side, first, bring your entire arm in front of your body and keep your arm extended as you raise it above your head. At the highest point your hand can be extended, you should briefly keep the position for just a second. This is to regather your thoughts and focus on the movement downwards. Make sure you bring your arm back down in a controlled manner.
Then rest and complete your next set before moving to my next exercise.
As I mentioned, I repeat this therapy/exercise 3 times per day - after I eat breakfast, after I eat lunch and before I eat dinner. I make sure that I focus on my arm during this therapy/exercise and I don’t let my mind wonder. As mentioned above, it is important during these exercises to focus on quality. It is far better for you to be able to keep control of your arm during this entire movement than to crank reps out. A controlled movement downwards is key to having a successful therapy session.
Now, I’ve got to get back to finish my therapy for now!
And as promised Teddy is back!! But be sure to Tune in next week for a new installment of exercises.