Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Stretching Nina's Muscles: Fighting Cerebral Palsy

Imagine I ask you to tighten all the muscles in your legs, every single one of them. As tight as you can get those muscles to contract. Hold them that way for an entire minute! Now that you did it for a minute, why not 5 minutes? Let's try an hour, can you imagine doing that for 60 minutes? Now what about doing that for let's say...5 years? Even while you are sleeping?

This has been Nina's life, a constant tightening of her muscles, especially in her legs. Her muscles are so tight all the time that it is very very important that we stretch her muscles. Stretching goes against everything her body does most of the day. Stretching makes her muscles do something that goes against their natural way of being in Nina's body. Stretching hurts. But it is important. We need to get her muscles to stretch and elongate.

We stretch Nina at least once a day. Some days, getting that one time is a challenge in our busy days. On a  good day, we do this 3 times a day and we do our sets of stretches 2-3 times around.

You will see in the video that Nina is not liking it very much. We only did it once around. Our camera sound is terrible, but she began to cry at some point but stopped as we try to distract her. At times you will see she is pushing against my knee with her hand trying to get me away. She contracts even more and sometimes her fighting makes the stretch more difficult and more painful. You will also notice that I use all my strength to push on those muscles, it is a workout for my arms to stretch Nina for sure!

We are also adding some of the muscle exercises post-rhizotomy. We have her do "bridges" "alligators" and kicks. Her kicking is not a kick (as she cannot straighten her leg!)

And I will be excited to show a video post-rhizotomy to show you the difference in her muscle tightness.

Edited to add: For the sake of the video, we did all of Nina's stretches quickly. We hold the stretches for a while, (we sing ABC's or count in English and then Spanish all the way to 10 while saying it slowly) It is painful for Nina to stretch, so she usually cries during her stretches, and it takes us about 20 minutes per stretching session. Here, you get our "routine" in 3 minutes.


  1. Hi :)
    I realize that for the sake of the video you probably did not hold the stretches as long as you normally do, (but just in case) we were told to hold Katya's stretches at least 30 seconds. We had been counting to 10, but once we started going to 30 we saw even more improvement with her flexibility. She doesn't care for stretches either, but now she can put her feet flat on the floor and when we came home she was up on her very tippy tippy toes. I'm very eager to see how much Nina's surgery helps her!

  2. I'm curious how much her flexibility has improved since you started working on stretches? Also she looks like she's grown a lot!


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