Skiing has turned out to be one of the best activities for cerebral palsy improvement. The reason stems from the required movement patterns involved. In order to arrive safely at the bottom of a ski slope, many different muscles become involved. We are using all of our limbs. They are all required to move independently of each other. Our hips are involved with the core providing stability and balance through each turn. All these movement patterns take place and need to be coordinated. The activity seems to work against most things cerebral palsy tries taking away. Something else great about snow skiing has been the amount of fun it provides. Even if you’re not the best skier in the world. The amount of fun involved makes it worth pursuing. The fact that skiing also does wonders for helping improve movement patterns hampered by CP, makes it even better. However, all the equipment required to ski can become cumbersome. Putting on my ski boots has always been the most frustrating part of any ski day. They can be challenging to simply get my feet into, then tightening them down has required elusive dexterity. This year brought about different happenings when heading up to ski for the first time.
It isn’t every year the opportunity presents itself to ski. It has often been a challenging activity. The complex movement patterns can make it difficult at times. Cerebral palsy becomes tested each time the slopes are taken. The challenge can leave me shying away from skiing. In fact, I didn’t ski for a number of years due to the difficulty. When the sport was taken back up a few years ago, it didn’t feel as overwhelming. Getting back into skiing took some time and help with my boots remained necessary. The amount of help needed was decreasing, but getting the boots on independently couldn’t be done. Thankfully, my brother was there to help me get situated in the ski boots. He has always been there to lend a helping hand when I get frustrated, reminding me it’s okay to receive help. There still has been a piece of me wanting to find a way to get the boots without help. It would be another small obstacle overcome. In the past balancing to even put the boots on was challenging. The cause for all this challenge seemed to be a lack of strength. There wasn’t any way to know if it was possible to achieve the goal of getting into my ski boots solo.
After a year of staying away from the mountain, I skied for the first time earlier this month. We chose to head up for night skiing on a Sunday night. The weather couldn’t have been better, as we drove up. The clocks had been moved forward the prior night. Which meant an extra hour of sun before the mountain lights took over. I was looking forward to getting back into skiing following the absence. With my brother there to help, we pulled into the lot, and began getting ready. Similar to days of the past, my ski boots were pulled out of the car, and I went about making an attempt to get into them. The struggle had been known to start right from the beginning. There would be trouble experience just trying to get my foot inside a ski boot. It was often difficult to understand why, but sometimes I would pull and tug without luck. The process could include attempting to use the ground and leverage to slab my foot inside. But, this time felt completely different from previous attempts. With one hand on the folded down bumper of the SUV, I slide my foot into one boot. There was resistance when putting it on, but it didn’t hold my foot back like it had in the past. Protective thoughts bounced into my head to remind me the other boot would probably be more challenging. Usually that emotion would hold true, with the second boot being more difficult to maneuver. But, the night would be different and I was able to slide through the resistance. Both ski boots were put on with little complication. It was a happy surprise to have found the ability.
When preparing to ski, getting into the ski boot has only been half the battle. A ski boot has to be tightened around the foot for stability. On my boots, there are four clamps on each to be locked into place. Fastening these clamps can be more challenging than getting into the boot. This seems to be where cerebral palsy plays the biggest role in the ski boot process. Working with the clamps on the boots requires strength and dexterity in the hands. It also seems to be easier to manage with wrist strength. Cerebral palsy has hampered the dexterity and strength in both my wrists and hands. The lack of steady mobility has left me requiring assistance to fasten my ski boots. So, with all of these thoughts running through my mind, I stood after accomplishing the first step successfully. Approaching the second leg of the two-step process, apprehension still floated around my body. Based on the success of getting into the boots, tightening them down could be productive as well. On this evening, the second step went almost as productively as the initial task.
Following the process of getting the ski boots on, they had to be buckled. Ski boots are designed to fit snuggly to the skier’s foot. Which means tightening the buckles is important for better control of the skies. Knowing the struggles of the buckling part of the process, I have tried to make things easier. My first step has been to tighten the Velcro strap at the top of each boot. Tightening the strap had made fastening the buckles easier in the past. However, the attempt usually ends up requiring assistance. Before the help is giving to buckle the boots, it feels important for me to try completing the process. After tightening the Velcro strap at the top of my first boot attempt, I collected myself to begin. My mind was expecting the same struggle with fastening from prior years. The process was more successful this time around. To my surprise, it was much easier to fasten the buckles on my boots. The task took some patience, but was achieved by taking my time. Completing the process of buckling the boots felt really exciting. It was another sign that my cerebral palsy symptoms were improving. The act of putting on my ski boots was made easier by improved dexterity and strength in my hands.
Improvement of cerebral palsy symptoms makes tasks like getting into ski boots easier. For the challenge of working with the boots improvement came from my wrists and hand muscles. There seem to be a couple things helping with the improvements. The work done during my chiropractic adjustments. Not only does Dr. Dana McCracken align my body, he also works to lengthen the muscles in my wrists and forearms. The process seems to allow the stiffness to subside. By relaxing those muscles, they also feel easier to use. With greater comfort throughout my lower arms my work with the trainer seems more productive. Inside the gym, we work on building strength and stability in my forearms, wrists, and hand muscles. Bernard helps me build that strength with different movement patterns. Whether working with the lacrosse ball or passing a ten-pound exercise ball back and forth, we work on wrists, forearms, and hand movements. The process can feel tedious, challenging, and frustrating at times. The variety of emotions when working a slow process can be overwhelming. But, pushing through when feeling like nothing is happening seems important. When a task like putting on ski boots surprisingly shows itself to be less challenging, all the work feels worth the time and effort. My emotions were full of hope and excitement.
All the activities in my life helping improve cerebral palsy symptoms are amazing. It leaves me thankful for the ability to take part in them. The activities also leave me wanting to get better at each of them. I’ve found two distinct processes that seem to help with those improvements. Not only do chiropractic adjustments and physical training help with cerebral palsy symptoms. The combination also helps me become stronger. The gained strength assisting in all parts of my life. Feeling improvement at the activities excites me and seems to provide the courage to get even better. The process has me wondering what else can be accomplished…. Having the ability to snow ski has always been exciting. The peaceful experience of being up on the mountain as the sun set these past couple weeks was awesome. The sun reflecting off the snow and trees, finally leaving behind the glow of dusk was majestic. As the lights took over, my turns down the hill became smoother. It was a blast to be up there with my brother. Even more incentive to continue improving cerebral palsy symptoms.