Monday, June 17, 2013

The Pieces of Recovery

On Monday morning I was back in with my PT, who still seems pretty stunned by the difference in my level of pain doing normal things like walking (basically none) vs what I experience with eccentric loading (single-leg squat, stepping down, etc.; still pretty much 8-9 out of 10). At first I wondered if maybe he didn't actually believe me, so part of me was kind of glad when he tried to kill me by making me stand on a Bosu ball & gave the muscles a perfect opportunity to demonstrate exactly what I'd been dealing with.

"HAH!" I thought. "See?!?! I am TOTALLY still super hurt, so THERE."

It's not your imagination; this thing really is trying to kill you.

After some passive stretching, some alignment work, some pretty miserable ART, & another round of ionto, he asked me what kinds of activity I'd been doing. A good amount of walking, I told him, plus most of my regular core / hip strength work. He was glad to hear that, particularly that I'm still able to do my clam shells without any pain.

Then we had a conversation that went sort of like this:

PT: How about cardio?

Me: ...

PT: Have you tried swimming? Biking? Elliptical?

Me: Mostly I have tried not being in white-hot blazing pain, thnx. I find the couch is good for that.

PT: Look. It's been 3 weeks of no running. It will probably be around 3 weeks more. It's good that you're still able to do most of the strength work, but you really cannot afford any more time off from cardio or you are going to be digging yourself out of a MAJOR hole once your hip is strong enough for running. And by running, I mean like half a mile at a time.

Me: So....

PT: So it's time to pretend you're a triathlete. You've got to get on the bike. You've got to get in the pool.

Yes. I know this.

Now, if there is something I suck at, it is doing exercise I don't like and/or suck at and/or that involve logistical complications that I'm not used to, but I really am going to work hard at trying to bike & swim. There are stationary bikes at my gym, and I've heard rumors that UCSF has a pretty nice lap pool. So, Operation No Cardio-Hole, commence.

PT: You also can't ignore the eccentric work on the right side anymore. You're starting to lose strength which is only going to cause more problems once you're running again.

Me: Yes but white-hot blazing pain, remember? Or shall I leap onto the Bosu ball again?

It turns out that if you hold on to something & lean back a little, you can do eccentric exercises like single-leg squats without engaging your hip flexors. I still can't do much of it (maybe 10° on the right side as compared to 90° on the left), but it's something, and the glutes definitely feel it.

Basically he had me doing something like this (3 sets of 10 on each side).

Also these, except standing up straight.

I am also apparently to start rolling the SHIT out of it every day with a Lacrosse ball or similar. Question: Is this going to hurt? PT: Yes, it's going to hurt. It's good for you. (Why are people always saying that?)

The other piece I want to get in place is Bikram yoga, since I've now had three people recommend it for really nasty soft tissue stuff. It seems like there's a great place not too far from me where I can drop in occasionally for a reasonable fee. (The instructor is out of town this week so I'll probably get started on that next week.)

And, I've decided that on July 1st (barring any catastrophes), I'm going to try to run. Not very fast, and not very far; maybe 200 yards or so. Maybe just until my leg hurts. If at all possible, though, I want that to be The Day. I haven't tried getting on the elliptical yet to see how functional that is, but I'm hoping that I'll be able to start working it in in a week or so, & then be ready to do some amount of running on the ground a week after that.

Hip, let's do this.


  1. COME SWIM WITH ME. I'm at UCSF Parnassus at least 2x/week. Boom, SOLVED.

  2. Your PT sounds a lot like the one I had last year. He dished out some tough love a couple of times, but it helped me in the long run. Swimming or aqua jogging would be really good for you. Hopefully the next 3 weeks will go by fast for you!

  3. I do think keeping strength up is a good idea but...don't hurt yourself worse :(

  4. While I am not in love with Bikram, I think it is great for injury recovery. I can't wait to hear about your experiences with it. And I fully endorse the swimming and TRX! UCSF has great swimming facilities!