Ki Hara – helping my recovery

I recently read a few medical studies regarding regaining strength following Cushing’s. The study found most of the participants lost grip strength and leg muscle function and that with no deliberate intervention following surgical remission, this did not improve. I have decided to try and fight that and will document my progress on this blog.

I’ve done various forms of yoga on and off for around 25 years but my most recent one, Ki Hara, has given me the most benefit. Until I tried that I have never been able to get my head to my knees. With Ki Hara I could and this was back when Cushing’s was starting to manifest so I can only imagine the results on someone completely healthy! My instructor, Ellie, is also the only UK qualified instructor and holds a ton of other qualifications as a corrective exercise therapist, posture therapist and exercise referral specialist qualified to deal with medical referrals. So I got in touch with her and had an online session on 17/11/2020. This is 14 months after my pituitary surgery.

Before the session I sent over some goals that I have for my fitness:

  • Reduce pain in lower back, hips and knees
  • Improve energy (currently struggle to wake before 11am)
  • Improve overall strength as I struggle to get up off the floor or the sofa or hold full saucepans
  • Improve balance – sometimes stumble for no reason

Ellie concentrated on the first point for the first session as if I’m in pain I won’t be able to make other improvements. We spent 1 hour 40 minutes and it was incredibly insightful. I came away from it with roughly half an hour of exercises to do once or twice a week. She also got me to do plenty of things that can be measured to show improvement. Just from the start to the end of that session I noticed some minor improvements but obviously I need to keep it up to retain these.

The plan is to do these a few times on my own then I’ve got 4 more sessions with her once a week over Christmas and New Year to see how I progress. These are long term goals so there won’t be lots of updates but I will definitely keep up the posts to show how it helps. Ellie does lots of online workshops so click the link above if you’re interested in giving this a try yourself and drop her an enquiry.

Below are my photos from the first session. Some are only from the start of the session, a couple we did again at the end to view any improvements. These are not all the photos or measurements that we’re going to be using but for now are the ones I feel most relevant. Some of the others are a bit random so unless I have significant improvements in the long run I won’t clog up the page unnecessarily. You can also see that although I’ve lost all my Cushing’s weight, it is still stubbornly giving me a pot belly and love handles. I’m averaging around 138lbs and a BMI of 24.2 so whilst there is a little extra on me perhaps, it’s not enough that I should look like that. Some of it is excess skin from losing the weight but the top bulge of the stomach is not skin. I’m hoping doing these exercises will help in toning it and flattening it all down.

Left is at the start of the session, right is at the end. At the start Ellie pointed out I carry my weight very forward and on my toes. She made me lean back until I was actually straight. It felt like I was going to tip over. There’s not a huge difference but at the end I was stood slightly straighter. I think it shows in that my chest looks to be lifted more on the right.
No “after” for this one. This was at the start. Ellie pointed out that my right shoulder is more up and forward than my left which gives away how much time I spend on a computer as it indicates the biceps are tight. She also pointed out that my left arm is trying to compensate for this and is holding the forearm more forward to try and balance my body out.
Before on the left, after on the right. I don’t see a huge difference here, possibly my after is slightly more relaxed. The idea is as my hips become stronger the knees will naturally be lower to the floor.
“Splits” on my left leg, before on the top, after on the bottom. Ellie could see a huge difference, I wasn’t convinced until I drew the lines. I definitely think my back leg is flatter (still miles away from a split of course). I felt less like I was going to wobble over at the end.
And now splits on the right, again top is before, bottom is after. The camera angle is different so might be playing tricks but I feel this one shows a more marked improvement. Again I felt far less wobbly at the end.
Finally the classic toe touch, before on the left, after on the right. We used to do a similar, but more intense, version of the exercise I did to improve this back in her group classes and everyone would always improve instantly. It’s incredible! You can clearly see the difference here. I was a good two inches away from my toes at the beginning but after the session I was touching them.

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