Misadventures in Physiotherapy

I've written about my fatigue and health problems before, and I was just walking through my office trying to keep this posture that the physiotherapist I've been seeing wants me to maintain, and I realized I felt totally silly, and it would be fun to write about on here.

Let me back up.

Earlier this year, I guess in March, I started feeling really super fatigued and didn't know why. I had sleep tests done, and they thought I might have sleep apnea, but the home oximetry tests they did didn't really confirm that. My GP was honestly really not helpful, so I switched doctors. My new doctor said "I want you to see a physiotherapist. I think you are hyperventilating and blowing off too much CO2."

This wasn't a totally new concept, because the tech at the sleep clinic said it could be a possibility that I was hyperventilating while I was sleeping, but I didn't think that I was doing it during the day.

So I went to the physiotherapist and he was like "this is classic hyperventilation syndrome." So he was asking me all these questions and looking in my mouth and feeling my neck and my back and looking at my posture and he measured my chest to see how much it expands when I breathe, etc.

Basically, his conclusions are thus:

  • My tongue is in the wrong position in my mouth. I know, it sounds crazy. I didn't know there was a "right" position. Apparently my tongue has been resting down by my bottom teeth, and I was getting literally tooth imprints on the edge of my tongue. I had always wondered why that was, and now I know. So, he has been working with me to bring my tongue up so that it actually rests on the palate. My tongue muscles were totally weak, so he is having me do tongue exercises.  Not even joking. I stick the handle of a spoon or something on my tongue, push down with the spoon, and push up with my tongue. Tongue push ups.
  • Because my tongue is in the wrong position, I don't swallow correctly, I don't breathe correctly, and my neck and jaw muscles are tense because by letting my tongue drop, I'm actually putting too much strain on the muscles. Doesn't sound logical, but apparently it's true. I was breathing through my mouth too much, and I am still doing that, because my allergies have been pretty bad and my nose has been stuffed. But I've had issues with that my whole life, and now it seems that some of it might be because of my tongue/nose situation.
  • About the nose - my nostrils don't dilate when I breathe in quickly through my nose. They are supposed to dilate to let air in. Mine literally collapse so they close up. The muscles around my nose aren't working correctly to stop that from happening, so I have exercises for that, too.
  • My posture is horrible. And I knew that already. But the physiotherapist is not even worried so much about being hunched over a computer at work, which is what most chiropractors and massage therapists and even doctors have said I do too much of. He's worried more about my lower back, and how I arch it so that I stick my butt out. I knew I was doing this, but I didn't realize it was a problem. I guess because I do that, my stomach muscles are weaker than they should be because they're not working to keep my tailbone tucked under (and I always wondered why I had a pudge that was kind of...stretched out. Hard to explain, but it makes sense to me now - you can see it in the image below, second from the left). And with my stomach muscles being weak, my diaphragm is weak, so I don't breathe into my diaphragm and stomach, I breathe into my chest too much. Etc. etc.
So this all kind of snowballs into these problems I've been having. I don't know why they suddenly got worse a few months ago, but maybe my body was finally like "wake up! You're not holding me correctly and you're not breathing right!" It just kind of gave out on me, I suppose.

Back to the beginning of my post - my physiotherapist showed me how I should be standing so my posture is correct. Knees bent and out a little, tailbone tucked under, but using stomach muscles, not butt muscles to do that. So I was just doing that in the washroom (no one was around), then trying to keep that as I was walking (which is really hard), and I realized it felt totally strange and foreign. I felt like I probably looked like I was hunched over and walking all funny with my back rounded like Quasimoto or something...But then I saw my reflection in a window and it looked normal. It just *feels* strange, because I'm not used to my back being straight.

There you have it. My misadventures in physiotherapy. 

Apparently I do that second one...


  • exotik1 | 27 June, 2012 13:00

    Thanks for sharing, my upper back is kind of like "forward head"..when i pass by a mirror, my reflection is that of my aunt-good for you for ketting it sorted out. The thing with the tongue is interesting, i rest my tongue on my teeth..time for tongue push ups! -farida

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