fitness · gadgets · injury

Pretty in Peach: Gendered Workouts and the Way the World Is

In my house the pandemic began with a flurry of online shopping to create a home gym. Or rather, to round out our existing supplies.

We have a TRX and yoga mats, bikes and a trainer for Zwift, and even resistance bands with handles and a lone kettle bell. We’ve hung our punching bag. I’m feeling pretty lucky.

My son also bought a giant tire for flipping, and some sandbags and water jugs for lifting.

The most recent fitness tool we acquired are peach bands. They’re resistance band loops and they come attached to whole marketing campaign that’s got my feminist attention.

The Bands
Peach Bands

They’re marketed as booty bands. Peach is both the colour of some of the bands and the desired booty shape that’s the aim of the workout. There’s lots of peach booty imagery out there and discussion of “peachy glutes.” Google it! Or not. Your choice.

See 5 Booty Band Moves (Other Than Squats) That’ll Give You A Peachy Butt.

The bands are incredibly useful for me because my mobility warm up is one I do with bands. My knee physio exercises use the bands too. And now I have some strength training that uses bands.

What’s interesting (and not surprising really) is that the knee physio exercises and the “develop a peachy booty” exercises are the same. See How glute strength supports your knees  and Strengthen Glute Medius to Avoid Common Knee Pain.

So my knee pre-hab workout is also some Instagram fitness model’s booty beautiful workout.

See 6 Resistance Band Exercises to Relieve Knee Pain.

As a feminist I always have mixed emotions about workouts aimed at making some body part beautiful. What’s in the mix? Well, a healthy dose of “you do you” and “go girl” along with some sadness that the great feel good of moving your body and sports performance is reduced to mere means to aesthetic bodily improvement. Also, I fret that it won’t work anyway and then you’ll hate yourself and stop exercising losing out on all the good that movement brings.

Still, still, these exercises do help knees. And more women than men have knee issues. We tend to move in a quad dominant way and have issues activating glutes and hamstrings. These bands certainly help activate those muscles. So if younger women are motivated by booty-beautiful and end up with fewer knee injuries as a result, then why worry about the motivation?

Also, they are really nice bands with (for me) the right range of resistance. And they come in a handy (peach coloured) carrying pouch. The marketing campaign has a lot of empowerment messaging. See the pie chart above.

covid19 · fitness · injury

Injury-free, at last!

Image description: running shoes, yoga mat, metal water bottle, and resistance bands.

Like most people, I have experienced some benefits I hadn’t predicted from the pandemic isolation (e.g. more time with my parents; the transition from asking “what’s sourdough starter?” to churning out perfect loaves on a regular basis; regular family gatherings on Zoom). But the benefit that has snuck up on me the most is that after over a year of struggling with injuries, I am now, suddenly and happily and unexpectedly injury-free.

On the blog, I’ve been fairly quiet about my injuries (one reason for that is that I had a long good-bye late last summer where I more or less left as a regular contributor, and since then have only written a handful of posts). But also, I’m not big on widespread sharing of my own pain (not that I never have), and I have a personal aversion to dwelling on what’s wrong (not that I never do). People who know me were aware of my Achilles’ injury because it interfered with my regular routines. Most seriously, it took me out of my regular running routine for more than a year. Since I ran the Around the Bay 30K last March, the furthest distance I’ve covered was 10K. I did that maybe 2-3 times. Despite feeling good immediately after the event, I experienced debilitating back pain a few days later. And then, within a short time of the back clearing up enough to take a gingerly approach to running again, my left side Achilles started to bother me in June, and by July I had backed way off. Mostly, I’ve been running between 3-5K or not at all.

The thing is, I’ve been continuing to try. Despite my physiotherapist’s advice and other people’s insistence on the risks of running on an injured Achilles, I spent many months backing off and then easing in again. Really, what I needed was to back right off and take a long break. When I was in Mexico for a few months from January 1 to March 18, I settled into some short running for a few weeks and then brazenly added mountain hiking. If you’ve ever had an Achilles issue, you know that uphills are the worst thing for it. So let’s just say hiking in the mountains was ill-advised. I inflamed my Achilles to the point where I had to stop running and hiking again by mid-February. I continued to walk a lot, covering 8-10K on flat ground most days, sometimes limping. My Achilles wasn’t exactly getting total rest and I was still aware of it all the time, but at least I’d stopped stressing it out.

The other part of my regular routine was yoga, modified so as to put no extra strain on my left Achilles.

When I got back to Canada on March 18, I had to go straight into quarantine for 14 days. I was in the country at my parents’ place (we had travelled together), so I could safely go for very short walks without running into anyone. When the 14 day quarantine ended, I added some very short runs, but I walked on the uphills (it’s hilly around here, but I was adamant that I would respect the Achilles). When the quarantine ended, I was able to extend my distance a bit, but mostly I’ve kept it to a walk or a run most days, plus yoga. A couple of weeks ago I added resistance training classes on Zoom.

I’m giving this little rundown of what’s happened since March 2019 because it’s really only since the pandemic (almost a year from the event where this all started) that, without planning it, I have done exactly what I needed to do to tend to my injury. And since I didn’t plan it, I didn’t “design” my approach with the Achilles in mind. Instead, I have stuck close to home and only gone out for shorter periods of activity because it seems (to me) like the right thing to do.

I’ve kept to my commitment to daily yoga because more than ever I’ve needed a way to feel grounded–morning meditation and daily yoga are two ways I manage to do that. Yes, they are grounding in themselves. But along with my daily walks or runs, they have helped me establish a sense of routine that I absolutely need during the pandemic. I don’t know about you but sometimes I feel as if each day just spills into the next and time has taken on a weird quality where it is on occasion almost meaningless.

Because of the weirdness of time lately, I can’t tell you when exactly it happened. But some time during the past two or three weeks it occurred to me that I hadn’t been aware of my Achilles at all of late. One marker of an injury is that it never completely escapes awareness. It’s hard to believe that just a couple of months ago, around the time when I had to stop the hiking, my Achilles was throbbing and aching all the time, even when I was just lying in bed.

Now, I finish a walk or a run and the Achilles just worked the way it was supposed to work. When I’m doing yoga, I don’t have to back off of pushing my heel all the way down when doing Warrior I. In a Zoom workout, I can keep my heels down during the squats and not worry about pain in lunges or chair climbing or anything I’d usually approach with caution.

Because of the pandemic and my inclination for the foreseeable future to stick fairly close to home, I feel pretty confident that I am not about to “overdo it” despite feeling as if I am good to go. Instead, I can enjoy my new injury-free-again state without putting it at risk (as I might normally be tempted to do). It’s amazing and wouldn’t have happened without Covid-19 forcing such major changes in our expectations on all of us. By the time this thing is resolved (I am not optimistic that it will be within a few months), the foot will be strong and be able to support me in a new training plan that can include distance and intensity. Pretty exciting!

So that’s my story of recovery from injury and of one of the good things that pandemic isolation has brought me. If you have an injury-recovery story and/or a good thing you want to share about pandemic isolation, please leave it in the comments.

Meanwhile, may you all be safe and be well.

fitness · Guest Post · injury · triathalon

Guest post: Exercises for a broken wrist

by Mary Case

As I am recovering from a broken wrist, there are several physio exercises that I do on a daily basis. When a friend shared with me that she was experiencing some wrist and forearm pain from her increased computer time, it occurred to me that these exercises and stretches could be a contribution, so I created this video. I am not trained in this area, but I do know what a difference these are making to my recovery. I think they may contribute to some of you who are finding yourselves at the computer, more than usual.  

Mary is a recently retired Elementary School Music Teacher, an Energetic Body Worker, an Access Consciousness Certified Facilitator and a professional violinist. When not involved in any of the capacities mentioned above, she can often be spotted in water, on a bike, or running to prepare for her next triathlon.

competition · cycling · Guest Post · injury · triathalon

What does retirement, Covid19, an orange cast and a cancelled race, have in common? (Guest post)

by Mary Case

In January I wrote a blog post about my first week of retirement. It was filled with the joyful anticipation of long workouts in preparation for a half ironman race in May, a lane to myself in the pool, lots of recovery time, the freedom to train when I wanted and workouts at what I would call ‘civilized” hours.

As the month unfolded, it was all of that and more. Building through February to cycling over two and a half hours on the trainer, while indulging in classical music on CBC radio, longer runs built up to 13k , long swims and a stunning trip to Arizona for hiking and outdoor adventures. I was on target for race day, May 31st.

And then things changed a little. First a small injury requiring a shift from running to walking for a bit. No big deal. This, while somewhat frustrating, could be managed. I did notice however, how challenging it was to “slow down”. Little did I know what “slowing down” would come to mean.

Fast forward one month to March 1st. I was walking my dog Ranger, the last vestiges of ice on the sidewalks, when this walk was cut abruptly short with a fall on the ice resulting in a broken wrist.

I digress briefly in this blog from my theme here, to acknowledge the incredible kindness of strangers I experienced as people stopped their cars, called an ambulance, made sure I was warm, called my hubby and took care of the dog. True angels of humanity.

Many hours later I was sporting a beautiful orange cast. It seemed only fitting that I choose the Balance Point Triathlon team color.

Author on bike trainer, sporting orange cast supported on pillow

Now what? This is taking slowing down to yet another level. As the bones heal, Netflix binging becomes the activity of choice. Sitting still for this girl, proves to be somewhat challenging.

Meanwhile enter the unprecedented times of Covid 19. Social distancing, the closing of many of my frequent hangouts; gyms, pools, yoga studios, physio clinics. While the time frame for wearing a cast and slowing down for it, was somewhat annoying, there was light and recovery at the end of the tunnel. Now what?

The pain of the injury subsides and the body is restless. Slowly I am able to add some time on the bike trainer with the arm propped up and the arm can now be at my side for some longer walks. 

I start to notice something on these walks. There is a sense of peace in this slowing down. I hear the birds, my senses are heightened. The traffic is quiet. There is not the constant mind chatter of the next workout, of pace times, of calculating nutrition needs. Something is shifting.

And then the announcement that the race is cancelled. While this was at first difficult, I do notice that I slow down again. Things that were relevant it my world fade for now. There is more space. Priorities change. My thoughts shift especially as I witness what others are going through. How important really is a pace time?

I know that I will ramp my training up again at some point in the future. My body loves to move, it loves a challenge and it really does not do Netflix well. Who knows what racing will look like in the future and when that will take place?

What does Retirement, Covid 19, an orange cast and a cancelled race have in common? For me it is the gift of slowing down. The chance to be still, to play a little with technology, to read, to listen to the birds and meditate. I reprioritize and experience life in a different way, if only for a little while.

 Meanwhile, the tires remain pumped.

Nostalgic photo of author at empty race site. 

Mary is a recently retired Elementary School Music Teacher, an Energetic Body Worker, an Access Consciousness Certified Facilitator and a professional violinist. When not involved in any of the capacities mentioned above, she can often be spotted in water, on a bike, or running to prepare for her next triathlon.

cardio · fitness · injury

Cardio without knees that work

Last week I wrote about the wonders of walking lots, even if it won’t help you lose weight. At the end of the post I promised to talk about cardio exercises for those of us who can’t walk very much at all. I can manage a dog walk with my knee brace but I’m pretty slow moving and nervous with my seriously arthritic knees. Stairs are okay going up but impossible coming down.

I walk sometimes just for the joy of being outside but it’s not my go-to fitness activity.

A wooded walking trail packed with snow, sunbeams coming through, trees casting shadows. Also, the front end of my dog Cheddar.

But also it’s winter, in Canada, and some of my fitness time these days is in the gym.

My go fitness activities at the gym used to include running on a treadmill and that’s completely out of the question now. So with the help of a personal trainer (hi Meg!) I’ve been exploring some new cardio machines at the gym. Rowing was already on my hit list and I’ve left out cycling altogether. You’ve heard me talk lots about that. Yawn. Sometimes I go to the gym and just do 5 min of each of the following things and then repeat. It’s not a bad routine. Also, these machines are usually free even at the busiest of times. That’s one advantage of not using treadmills, elliptical machines, and the like.

These won’t work for everyone as some of them involve standing.

My gym, the campus fitness center, has all of the following machines:

Hand cycle: You can do both steady state and sprints with these. It’s more work than you might think.

Ski-erg: This was completely new to me and it feels like a pretty good full body workout.

Jacob’s Ladder: I’ve blogged about that before here.

Rope machine

Rowing machine: I’ve spent a lot of time erging, as rowers say. It’s a terrific workout. It’s the thing to me that feels most like the treadmill in that I can do it for awhile and listen to music. I often start my workouts with a 2k warm up and then try to do a speedier 2 k at the end.

There are also non-machine options, like aquafit and swimming, but I’ll leave those for another day.

How about you? What do you recommend for cardio that doesn’t involve knees very much?

Crossfit · fitness · injury

Burpees are bad for you? Wait, what?

You know you’ve been writing about fitness for a long time (hi there!) when a thing that was supposed to be a Really Good Thing of which you can’t get enough, is now on the Bad For You list. We’ve been there with food. Eggs? Sugar? White bread? And also with exercise. Does running make you thin or fat? Who knows and who cares? Right? Right.

But now burpees. Really.

This all started with me picking up on Bicycling Magazine’s Charlee Atkins 10 essential exercises for cyclists. All in all it’s a pretty good list. I worked my way through the routine, only skipping the burpees. Because, knees.

So the next day I was chatting with Meg who is a personal trainer about another list, the three best exercises for women over 40, which I’d shared on Facebook with the comment, “What do you think the best exercises are? Around here we tend to say the best are the ones you enjoy, because you’ll both do them and add pleasure to your day. “

That list also has burpees and I was kind of surprised.

Meg did not have good things to say about burpees. She didn’t think they should have made either list. Burpees, it turns out, are going out of favour.

They’ve certainly gone out of favour with me since my knee injuries. As with running, there are no burpees in my future. But in my day, I’ve done a lot of burpees, including a full-on, all burpees all the time, summer challenge. It was a lot of hard work and I kind of enjoyed it in that weird way you can enjoy really hard things.

Here’s the case for burpees, from the 3 best exercises for women over 40 piece: “Burpees are one of the best full-body functional exercises you can do. Think about it — what is a burpee, really? It’s just lying down on the ground and getting back up again. I can’t count how many women I’ve trained who could not lie down and get back up when they first began getting serious about fitness, but I can guarantee that they’re all more than capable of a full-out, chest-to-ground burpee now. “

Up until now, that’s what I would have thought too: excellent, all round exercise, good for functional fitness.

Am I wrong? Now burpees are controversial.

See Kate Upton’s Trainer Isn’t a Fan of Burpees—Here’s Why the Move Is So Controversial:

“Ben Bruno doesn’t believe in burpees. The Los Angeles-based trainer to celebrities like Kate UptonChelsea Handler, and Victoria’s Secret model Barbara Fialho, among others, took to Twitter and Instagram recently to profess his loathing for the exercise that many of us, frankly, also hate.

“There’s no such thing as a bad exercise, just bad application,” Bruno wrote sarcastically, before throwing in a series of asterisks to caveat that burpees are “pretty dumb,” along with kipping pull-ups (a pull-up variation in which you use momentum to get your chin above the bar) and American kettlebell swings (a two-handed kettlebell swing variation where the weight is swung overhead). “Instead, pick literally anything else,” he concluded.”

What’s so bad about burpees? Most people don’t have enough strength to do them properly, do them improperly, and risk serious injury.

View this post on Instagram

I’m just going to leave this here.

A post shared by Ben Bruno (@benbrunotraining) on

Do you love or hate burpees? Where do you stand on the great burpee controversy?

fitness · injury · monthly check in

Sam’s monthly check-in: January’s ups and downs

Ups! January ends on a high note! I’m writing this post somewhere warm. I’m riding my bike in Florida. Whee! Last year it was Clermont. This year it’s the nearby town of Mount Dora. Here’s our very cute cottage rental and me amid the lush shrubbery.

Sam in Mount Dora

This very cute Florida town is home of the Mount Dora Bike Festival though we’re not here for that. The festival is in October and we’re here in January hoping to make good use of their route maps for the rides. Later in the week we’ll be taking on that classic Florida climb, Sugarloaf.

Earlier in the month I was at a conference in Arizona. That was fun too. It’s an excellent conference. But I missed having my bike. There are so many cyclists in Arizona many of them from Canada. Instead, I did Yoga with Adriene in my hotel room and went for walks in the nature trails around the resort.

Downs! These are just January initiatives that weren’t as successful as I’d hoped they’d be. They’re not serious downs or failures. I tried to do Yoga with Adriene at home. I should have done it in my office! I just don’t have room at home. Here’s Cheddar “helping.”

I started out doing the bike everyday in January thing, #31DaysofWinterBiking. I managed commuting by bike lots of days but not all of them. I rode inside some of the time–loving Zwift!–and now I’m spending the last week of winter biking riding in Florida. That hardly counts. 🙂

View this post on Instagram

#31daysofwinterbiking

A post shared by Samantha Brennan (@samjanebrennan) on

But I made it through January, the second worst month of the year, right after November. My bright light helped.

alcohol · beauty · body image · eating · fat · fitness · habits · health · injury · movies · running · self care · sex · stereotypes · weight loss · weight stigma

Sam watched Brittany Runs a Marathon and recommends that you don’t

Catherine wrote a blog post about Brittany Runs a Marathon without watching it. That was definitely the wiser choice. See her commentary here.

She writes, “So why I am writing about a movie I haven’t seen? Because I think the movie/advertising/fashion/fitness industries have (sort of) taken in the message that it’s not okay to blatantly fat-shame people or overtly identify lower body weights with fitness, success and happiness in life. Notice, I said “overtly” and “blatantly”.”

Catherine goes on to identify “some strong fitspo messages buried (not too deeply) in this film:

  • Health problems should first be addressed by losing weight
  • Weight loss is possible to achieve through physical activity
  • Weight loss makes physical activity possible and easier and better and more fun
  • Some deep-seated emotional problems will resolve through weight loss and physical activity”

There’s a lot to dislike about the film that I knew before I hit play. It erases larger runners, it promotes weight loss fantasies, and it’s fat-shaming. All that I knew at the outset.

So why did I end up watching it? I sometimes watch “bad” TV or fluffy shows while cleaning. Easy to follow rom-coms? Sign me up! I hadn’t seen the floor of my room in weeks. There were Christmas gifts I still hadn’t put away, clean laundry, bags of gym clothes, yoga mats etc all over the floor, the bed needed making, the socks needed sorting and so on. I needed something longer than a regular half hour show to deal with all of the mess. I needed a movie length thing at least. I thought I could handle the fat shaming and enjoy BRAM for its redeeming features. The trailer looked, as a friend put it, cute. The Guardian called it a fluffy feel good flick. It is not that. By the end, I did not feel good at all.

Friends, it was not mostly cute with a side of fat shaming, which I expected. Instead it was a dumpster fire of stereotypes and it was also super sex shaming. All of this was lumped into criticism of Brittany’s self-destructive lifestyle. At one point in the movie someone opines–in a line that was supposed to save the movie, “Brittany, it was never about the weight.” Instead, “weight” is just a stand in for all of Brittany’s problems. Before fat-Brittany is taking drugs and giving men blow jobs in night clubs and by the end of the movie, thin Brittany isn’t just thin. She’s also turning down casual sex. The friends-with-benefits/boyfriend proposes. There was way too much moralizing about sex and drugs. And I say that as someone who is no fan of drugs or alcohol and is often accused of moralizing in this area.

This happens because Brittany isn’t just a fat girl. She’s a fat girl with low self -esteem. She could have just gotten some self-esteem. But no, she gets thin and then gets self-esteem. She could have gotten self-esteem and demanded equal pleasure in the casual sex. She could have started using drugs and alcohol in a responsible manner. Instead, no. She gets self-esteem, says no to drugs, and holds out for a real relationship.

Not surprisingly, it doesn’t manage the weight-loss plot line well at all.

The Guardian reviewer writes, “The film struggles to square its protagonist’s weight loss with the pressure to present a body-positive position and ensure it doesn’t alienate the very female audience it courts. One minute it’s wryly poking fun at the expense and inaccessibility of gyms, the next it’s fetishistically cataloguing the shrinking number on Brittany’s scales. Indeed, as her body transforms, so does her life. She finds a new job, and supportive friends in her running club; men begin to notice her. Yet Brittany still battles with her body issues, unable to shed her identity as “a fat girl”. There’s a note of truth in Bell’s finely tuned performance as a character whose insecurities have calcified over the years, hardening her to genuine goodwill, which she frequently misreads as pity.”

For the record, fat Brittany is smaller than me. She starts out weighing 197 pounds. Her goal weight is 167. And we can track it because never in movie history has a person stepped on a scale so often.

(A blog reader pointed out a more charitable interpretation of why we see her stepping on the scale so often: “She steps on the scale a lot because she trades in her addictions to drugs and alcohol for an addiction to scale weight loss, which the movie portrays as an unhealthy obsession. What starts out as a good “oh look, I lost this many pounds now!” thing quickly escalates into a dangerous “go for a run, jump on the scale, dislike the number displayed, so go back out to run in the mistaken belief that it will make the number change” cycle. That’s why she steps on a scale so often. Because it’s NOT good that she does it.)

Forget the weight loss and the sex, even the running themes aren’t handled well. Friends tease Brittany when she first starts running because she isn’t a real runner. The longest she’s run is 5 km. Rather than tackling the “real runner” thing head on instead the film has Brittany run a marathon and become a real runner by the friend’s standards. Even her triumphant marathon finish is marred by Brittany’s continuing to run on her (spoiler alert) injured and possibly still stress fractured leg. We don’t know that but we do know she’s holding her leg and crying, running and not able to put much weight on it, and her first attempt to run the marathon was derailed by a stress fracture.

There is nothing to love here. Nothing cute or funny or feel good or fluffy.

Friends, don’t watch it. Not even on an airplane.

inclusiveness · injury · yoga

Sam’s most hated yoga pose

Catherine blogged about her most uncomfortable yoga poses and what she does instead. I’ve also become “that free spirit yoga lady” who just appears to be doing her own thing in yoga class. It’s winter and I’m back at hot yoga in a studio and despite all the talk of ‘only you know your body’ and ‘this is your practice’ I feel some pressure to go along with the sequence of poses.

I thought I’d share my recent yoga frustrations with you. Or when I’m in a mood, let’s just call it “my most hated yoga pose.” It’s Hero or Virasana. Here it’s described as balm for tired legs at the end of a long day but for me it’s just excruciating pain. Also, several physios and a knee surgeon or two have just out and out told me not to do it. So I don’t.

Searching for “hero pose” on Unsplash–a royalty free photo site–the best I got was this image. Not exactly what I had in mind!

Spiderman! Photo by Stem List on Unsplash

Here’s Yoga with Adriene explaining how to set it up:

Knees are precious she tells us. Learn how to set up hero pose mindfully.

But the video also has the following text description:

” Yoga workshop! Learn the foundations of Hero Pose – or Virasana with Yoga With Adriene! Learn this delicate but powerful seated pose with at-home supports. No fancy yoga props needed. Learn to self adjust and use props intuitively and mindfully. Hero is a great stretch for the legs and feet. It can ground and calm the body with regular practice and help with digestion and bloating. Learn to explore a posture in a way that feels good. Avoid this posture if you have injury in the knee or ankle.

The bold bit is mine.

And that’s the thing. No amount of modification will help. There is no right number of blocks, no proper arrangement of towels that will fix things.

Other poses are challenging–pigeon, child’s pose, bow–but I can find modifications that work. Not in this case and that’s okay. There is no way to make all the yoga poses work for every body despite what some yoga teachers seem to think.

Instead, you can find me off doing my own thing. And I’ll join you again for the next posture.

Is there a yoga pose that your body simply can’t do? No matter how many modifications? Make feel less alone here. Tell me your story. 🙂

fitness · injury

Sam is grumpy about toe physio

Sigh!

I’ve kept quiet about this latest physical problem because next to my knee arthritis and pending knee replacement surgery, it seems minor. However, I’ve had x-rays, seen a regular doctor and a foot specialist and the diagnosis is that I also have a seriously arthritic big toe on my left foot.

See here and here.

Really? Yes, really.

Oh, aging. I’m reminded of my father a lot these days. I know what he would have said. “Yes, aging sucks but it sure beats the alternative.” My father died four years ago, just before Christmas. I think about him a lot at this time of year. They’re good memories and I’m glad that I have them.

Back to my big toe. Yes, just one. The one of the left foot. The one on my right foot is fine.

You can read all about the problem here.

Big toe joint

“A crucial element of big-toe function is the metatarsophalangeal (MTP) joint, which joins the first long bone (metatarsal) in the forefoot to the first bone of the big toe (phalanx). Every time you take a step, the MTP joint bends, allowing the foot to roll forward and push off. During this phase of the walking cycle, the joint supports 50% of the body’s weight. If the joint doesn’t function properly, not only walking, but also exercising and many other activities of daily life can be difficult, sometimes impossible. One of the most common ailments of the big toe joint is hallux rigidus — literally, “stiff big toe.”

So what’s the prognosis? If you read the article linked above, I’m at the conservative, symptom management stage. Take ibuprofen. (Thanks, already doing that for the knee.) Wear shoes with a large toe box. (Looking at my existing shoe collection with side eye.)

These are my new favorites, obviously not a large toe box. It’s a double shoe selfie with my friend Andrea Zanin, who guest blogs here occasionally. She’s wearing the sparkly pink, red festive shoes and mine are black with silver buckles.

Fluevogs!

I’ve also ordered custom orthotics that will help support the midfoot and give me better lift off for walking. Thanks again benefits.

Finally, there’s toe physio. Friends will remember my amusement years ago when I was sent to a finger physio clinic and assigned an awful lot of exercises after I broke my finger walking my dogs. It wasn’t the big one who caused the broken finger. It was the medium sized dog Olivia who took off after a dog on the street and I smashed my hand on the pavement.

I miss these dogs. They also both died in 2015. It wasn’t a great year.

Manny and Olivia. Miss you both.

Eventually I stopped mocking the finger physio clinic and their exercises and I did them. I’m good that way. I now have full mobility back in that joint. So I suspect I’ll get there with toe physio. I’ll do the exercises while watching whatever show I’m watching over the holidays. That’s currently Fleabag.

In the scheme of things this isn’t a big deal. My foot hurts and I get cramps. But on top of the knee it feels super annoying. Really? Knee and toe physio exercises? Really?

Increasing big toe mobility with YouTube videos!

Yes. That’s my life now. But echoing my dad, it beats the alternative.