Updates and Progress: November 2, 2018 – January 5, 2018

Much progress has been made. While I’m still on a cane, I can foresee a time in the (hopefully) near future where I can get rid of this thing. A few milestones over the last few months:

  • End of September 2018, on Pennsylvania trip: last time I regularly used the crutches (one crutch, to be exact). Used the cane a bit on that trip. Struggled when using the cane outside of the condo.
  • End of September 2018: Upon returning from that trip, I noticed I had more space in my left hip. Meaning, I could stand and lean to left, and my body let me. This was HUGE. It really changed my attitude about my recovery. I began to tentatively hope that maybe I could get better.
  • Started walking with exclusively the cane in October 2018
  • December 5, 2018: Had a booster PRP shot from my stem cell doctor. He did an ultrasound before the procedure and got giddy at the amount of cartilage that had regrown in my hip thus far. He said, “It almost looks like a normal hip.” Woot! In my mind, this confirms much of my current pain and disfunction comes from my muscles.
  • Sometime end of December 2018: I stopped holding onto walls, counters as I moved around the house (hadn’t realized I’d been doing this. When I did, I decided it was time to stop). This resulted in an increase in strength within a couple days. Wow.
  • Stopped going to gym for most of December 2018. Things got busy, and I also found myself in a weird “in-between” stage where I was doing a bunch of muscle activation movements at home, outside of the pool and hot tub, re-acclimating my body to gravity.

As of December 31, 2018, I’ve started walking on the treadmill at the gym for 15-20 minutes, using speeds ranging from 1-1.8 for far, at various levels of incline. (This is serious progress. In March 2018 at the height of my pain, I could only do 0.6? 0.7? for 10-15 minutes, holding onto both side of the treadmill for dear life, and it was excruciating).  Currently, I hold onto both side sometimes, but much of the time one side, and vary my steps in length, and also where my feet fall in relation to my midline. Sometimes I’ll pretend I’m walking a tightrope (while holding onto both sides), and other times I’ll strive to carefully have my feet fall across the midline. This is the range of motion that’s the toughest for my body and muscles, so it stands to reason that I should (again, carefully) practice it.

Also, I’m working on activating and strengthening my muscles with my legs closer together in the standing position. Super tough. I wish I wouldn’t have let that range of motion go, but alas. You live and you learn. Currently, with my feet as close to each other as possible, I’ll hinge at the waist, often using our kitchen peninsula for support.

The concept of standing “in” my left hip, and evening out my legs

Also, I’ve noticed like 2-3 days ago that I don’t stand “inside my left hip” as much as my right. I still tend to stand with more weight on my right hip, with my hip protruding out to the right. I’m working on carefully shifting my weight into my left hip and letting my muscles (and ligaments, tendons, etc) learn how that feels. What’s interesting is that if I move into my left hip enough, my legs even out/almost even out before my very eyes.

The first night I did this, something in my inside hip (upper groin area) wanted to lock up on me with what I’ve come to call “blue lightning” pain. I remember encountering this back in February/March 2018, when I had a hint of feeling better, but let that pain scare me away. I remember after that spending weeks/months on the couch, and quickly went downhill. Fast forward to today, and I’m determined NOT to let that happen. This pain is trying to tell me something. Maybe I pushed things to far, although my movements were slow and careful. Or maybe it’s a temporary, inevitable pain that comes from soft tissue that’s complaining but not accustomed to moving that way. I’ve encountered different kinds of pain over the last few months that proved to be inevitable and temporary, but would go away over time as long as I gently encouraged my body to learn the movement. Funny, I don’t so easily get frightened anymore by different kinds of pain. Same with the popping and cracking I’ll get with specific movements, which I’ve come to learn means the muscle is weak and doesn’t know how to lengthen and/or shorten. With time and careful, slow activation movements, the popping, cracking, and pain usually goes away.

Yep, daily life hurts m@therf@cker, but I’m still here.

Currently, I’m working on sorting out this blue lightening pain. I’ll do gentle hip Hanna Somatic movements while sitting and laying throughout the day to encourage my hip to NOT lock up. I’ll also gently, slowly repeat the movements that caused the pain, while working on activating the muscles involved in the movement so my body learns how to handle it

Current regimen:

  • I’m eating more protein than I ever have before. Trying to get close to my body weight since I’ve got muscle to build, especially in my left leg, with its semi-withered hamstrings, quads, and who knows what else.
  • Trying to walk for 20 minutes on treadmill 6 days a week. Surprisingly, I’ve done 5 days in a row so far, and I feel improvement. My body’s ability to recover is improving. Beautiful.
  • Considering incorporating 5-10 minutes of backwards walking and evaluating how my body responds. Planning on trying the first session at home.
  • Core work: Hanging from pullup bar and lifting legs (super tough), laying and lifting leg to activate and strengthen psoas (tough, but I’m able to get through almost 3 sets of 7. I’ve noticed just about the day after I started doing this, it was easier to get to lift my left leg to get into the car, and in and out of bed. Interesting). I’m not doing these every day yet, though I know I should be. More like every other day as of a week or so ago. Also doing sit ups laying down with legs straight out.
  • Quad work: kneeling hip hinges (hip thrusts), which really, really tire out my quads
  • External hamstring work: Standing in forward lunge position on wood block
  • Calf stretch work: utilizing wood block in kitchen
  • Generally learning to stand with my legs closer together.
  • Also learning to put weight on each tip toe of each foot. Tough. But the more I do it, the less general pain I have.
  • Considering adding back in glute bridges, hip thrusts…
  • Light rebounding work in various positions: Me likey. Hoping it helps me recover some of my lost “spring” in my step. Currently I walk like a lopsided, drunken elephant.
  • Tissue work: electric massager, PEMF mat just about every day (these two work pretty well together), working on incorporating the hot tub more again
  • Consider an evening floor routine: push ups, shoulder pushups, plank, quadruped rocking, downward dog, upward dog, kneeling hip hinges (I like this guy’s form with your feet together: https://mikereinold.com/kneeling-hip-thrust/). Finish with sitting cross-legged.
  • Considering: Assisted squats? (as in, holding onto something and going down into as deep a squat as I comfortably can).

Note to self: I think I have supination with external rotation of the knee, based on this article: https://www.monikavolkmar.com/2017/04/25/the-week-of-externally-rotated-knees/

As part of the solution, try this Aim (Anatomy in Motion) stuff for walking:

http://:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0QHHs9Ye9AA&index=9&list=PLPYYXiSTPdCKOcF11BcM7k73Jd4ry2PLQ

: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J_hA28ovDRw

Consider: https://www.findingcentre.co.uk/wakeyourbodyup/

 

Had a Great Workout Today – I Want to Remember It

Day by day, I’m feeling stronger. There’s less pain, and I feel my glutes and hamstrings getting stronger on the weak (left) side. Standing straight is getting easier, as well as moving around my kitchen. I’ve even found myself dong more tasks in the kitchen lately!

Today – August 15, 2018 – had a solid workout, and wanted to write it down so I don’t forget it. Here’s how it looked.

  • 13 minutes on the elliptical/adaptive strider (took occasional breaks): took long strides, did some slow squat holds, and lifted my knees up near my chest by balancing with my arms. Also did stair stepping motions.
  • Jumped in the jacuzzi and put my leg in traction. Also did the couch stretch.
  • In the regular pool, I walked forwards and backwards.
  • Also put the band around my knees and walked side to side.
  • With the band around my knees, went down into a squat and held it.
  • Took band off. Did weird long side-to-side strides, pushing off with my posterior muscles and stretching out my adductors. It looked like I was dancing/doing some type of Tai Chi in the water, but if felt right. 🙂
  • Using the noodle, I did my kicking drills: forward, backward, and each side
  • Hopped back in jacuzzi and put my leg in traction again.
  • Did some gentle range of motion movements in the jacuzzi.

This workout left me tired, but feeling stronger. Of course, I grounded with my grounding blanket and used the electric massager when I got home.

Woot!

I’m Becoming “That Creeper” at the Pool

So the more I exercise and do range of motion work at the pool, the more I realize how much my body likes it. The more I realize my body likes it, the more thought I put into how I can maximize my efforts. The more I work to maximize my efforts, the more I begin to incorporate somewhat weird tools into my aqua routine.

Example: I’ve started utilizing an exercise band around my legs for side to side movements in the pool to work my lateral muscles. In fact, I’ll wear the band around my waist before I even get into the pool. Sometimes I get weird looks, like I’m trying to start a fashion trend. No, my dears. Perhaps in official aqua rehabilitation pools these bands are normal, but apparently at the local fitness pool, not so much.

Another example: Today, when I go into the jacuzzi, I’m going to bring my small lacrosse ball in with me in order to work on my glute/piriformis/possibly hamstring muscles. Whatever I can get it. I may look like a perve while doing this.

Another example: I’m probably going to experiment with “trigger point taping” my adductors. This tape will show while I wear my swimsuit, even with the  shorts I wear. I will look weird.

Alas.

July 21, 2018 – Unmistakeable Improvement

Good gracious me. It’s been almost a month since I’ve been going to the pool, and the improvement I’m seeing is unmistakable. I almost don’t want to say anything, because I’m afraid I’ll start overthinking things and sabotage myself. I think the improvements are due to a number of factors, including the pool exercises, jacuzzi mobility work, stem cell therapy, and the nutrition/supplementation protocol I’ve been following.

A realization – I need to get at those trigger points

For the past few days, I grudgingly started learning more about trigger points, and that’s been a revelation. Here are a few facts that stood out to me:

  • trigger points can shorten and weaken a muscle
  • trigger points in the adductors can make it neurologically difficult for you to engage your glutes and hamstrings
  • often, trigger point pain can be debilitating, and is often confused with the pain of arthritis.

If that ain’t me, then I don’t know what is. Looking back over a year, there’s a very good chance trigger points were involved in alot of my pain. They could even be a large part of why my left hip joint closed up (possibly. Although it’s also possible my left hip joint was closing up over time. I did have some impingement, after all for years before that, after all).

So for the past few days I’ve been working periodically throughout the day to get at my adductor trigger points on both legs, since my right side is beginning to display symptoms similar to my left. ugh. I’ve been using my hands and my electronic massager to get at painful spots. Sometimes I focus on relaxing the muscle. Other times I bring the muscle through a range of movement. I try not to overdo it with the electric massager because the jury’s still out on if over-using it could damage nerves/bones, etc. The thing is powerful.

Exercising while working

I spend a fair amount of time at my computer in the mornings while working at home, so I’ve been playing with keeping my body healthy, moving, and hydrated while getting work done. How do I do this? I think I mentioned it in another post, but here’s a run down:

  • I drink my green powder + MSM + vitamin C mix
  • I drink my coffee + bone broth powder + grass-fed butter + stevia or honey
  • Immediately after, I drink a cup or two of water.
  • Start working on computer. With feet on floor, lean forward to engage glutes and hamstrings in a kind of hip hinging move.  Lean back into couch to practice pelvis stabilization and core engagement, similar to a gentle sit up. Sometimes, while leaning back with my core engaged, I’ll lift one or both legs. It’s incredibly difficult, but getting easier.
  • After 20-25 minutes, I have to pee, so I get up to pee
  • Drink more water
  • Work on computer. Do more mindful movements. Sometimes I’ll hook up my EMS to my left (weak) hamstring for 20 minutes to help it recover from the previous day’s workout, or I’ll put it on a stronger setting to actually work the muscle a bit.
  • After 20-25 minutes, I have to pee, so I get up to pee
  • Work on computer.
  • And so the cycle goes

I find that this keeps me from sitting at my computer for hours without moving, like I used to do. I also get some healthy movement in. 🙂

I’m still so impatient.

My pain is steadily decreasing. My strength is steady increasing. And yet I’m still really, really impatient. At the pool a couple days ago, I walked in grumpy because man, this process is grueling. It takes up my whole day. It’s literally on my mind all the time. It seems like the entire world can walk but me. Getting stared at with these crutches gets old. Quick.

And yet, all I can do is persevere.

 

July 15, 2018 – Am I pushing myself hard enough?

Let’s see. Today’s Sunday. Here’s a quick recap of what the last few days looked like:

Thursday

Before heading to the pool, I did the couch stretch on my right side, and then did some posterior muscle activation to hopefully teach my right psoas to freakin’ relax. Performed glute bridges, side lying leg lefts, and then some assisted single and double leg Romanian deadlifts.

Tried the sitting leg curl machine for the first time (in years, anyway). Could only curl 10 lbs on my LEFT (weak) side. Good grief. I would have tried less than that, but it was the lowest the machine would let you go. I mean, the 10 lb weight was literally welded to the bar. So. Did about 3 sets of 5 and left it at that. Kept it slow and gentle, because the last thing I want to do is pull or tear that hamstring. As I slowly performed the movement, I could feel pain as the muscle shortened and lengthened. It wasn’t horrible pain, and seemed unavoidable considering the lack of use that muscle’s had lately. Hamstrings are one of the most common things to injure. Amazing that hasn’t happened already in the craziness of this past year. It’s gotten visibly smaller and floppy.

On my RIGHT stronger side, I did 30 lbs. Is that normal? Seems low. That side seems chronically tight and tired every day these days though, due to it overcompensating for my other side. Decided not to do any complete sets on my right side, because I’m not sure if stressing that side is the way to go. Again, I don’t want to pull the doggone muscle. The thing feels rock hard most of the time anyway. And as I mentioned, tired, like its full of lactic acid.

Went to the pool and did my usual exercises.

Friday

Note: Right side glute med definitely sore. Did I overdo it?

Since I wasn’t sore from Thursday’s hamstring curling, I decided to try the machine again. At first, I set the machine on 10 lbs for my LEFT hamstring, cringed in preparation for the pain, and curled my leg down.

I nearly flew off the seat.

No pain. Huh. After a moment of looking bewildered, I increased the weight to 20 lb. Performed a curl. Only a fraction of the pain from the day before, along with the normal sensation of my hamstring struggling with the increased resistance For kicks (no pun intended), I then increased the weight to 30 lbs and performed one for two curls. Was tough, with a little more pain, although still not as much as the day before.

In the end, I set it at 20 lbs, delighted that I was able to double the resistance in one day. Performed about 3 sets of 10 lbs. Definitely tough, but only a little painful.

Just as a test, I set the resistance to 30 lbs for my right (stronger) side. Definitely felt easier than the day before. What the deal? I increased it to 40 lbs, it felt appropriately difficult. However, I again decided not to perform even a full set on that side because it feels chronically overworked.

After that, I did some bicep curls for fun in front of the mirror because they’re fun. Also, with my forearm crutches and crawling-like exercises I do throughout the day for my muscle slings, it feels like I’m constantly working out the back of my arms and back. I don’t want to ignore my biceps. Also, I’m just a bit vain about my biceps. Always have been. They look nice, and it feels darn good to feel a little bit positive about one part of my body.

After that I hobbled to the pool and did my usual exercises. Jacuzzi afterwards.

That night, I used the EMS (electronic muscle stimulation) unit on my left bicep to hopefully help it recover fast. In fact, I used one of the “muscle recovery” programs.

Saturday

Right side glute medius still a bit sore.

Left hamstring definitely sore from the day before. Feeling it.

Spent a fun day with the in-laws, so I never made it to the gym/pool. However, they have a jacuzzi, so I used that and did some light range-of-motion exercises. Felt awesome not to lose a day of physical therapy. Am I getting obsessed with my rehab? Yes. Has it taken over my life? Perhaps. But you know what else takes over your life? Being in constant pain and limping everywhere. So the way I see it, I might as well attempt to take some control over the situation.

Even though I didn’t officially “exercise” per se, I found myself physically exhausted by the end of the day. We took the boat out, and apparently, walking from their back deck down the sloped yard, down the down to the boat, and then back was alot on my body. I did a total of 3 laps, with 2 of them being on one crutch. The last lap I had to use two crutches because my legs were just plain tired. And then after eating on the back deck, I attempted to help clear some of the dishes, and seriously struggled after a few trips from the back deck to the inside kitchen.

That night back at home, my hubby was amused at the sight of me sprawled on the couch, barely able to keep my eyes open (it was like 9:30pm). I was literally in and out of consciousness, mouth open and occasionally babbling. Seriously. I was also sleep deprived from the previous two nights, so yes, I was a mess.

Sunday

Glute medius still a bit sore. Dagnabbit. Seriously wondering if I overdid it. Did I put more stress on a muscle that’s already over-compensating and overstressed?

This is all such a mind-game.

Slept like a newborn-baby, so feeling good in that respect. My left hamstring is sore, but that’s not a bad thing. After a year of bizarre, severe pain on my left side, it’s nice to experience some normal DOMS. This may be a good thing. Perhaps I should incorporate seated leg curls into my routine 2-3 times a week. I wonder if I can try the movement with the foot turned in and out to target different areas of my hamstrings? Dunno yet. Don’t want to hurt myself.

Another thought: I don’t have extra pain from being on my feet so much yesterday at the in-law’s, so I wonder if I should push myself to get used to using just one crutch when I’m outside the house? One of my goals is to get down to one crutch all the time (as opposed to just inside the house), feel no pain while doing it, and not have to hold back while putting weight on my left side. At present, I can go short distances on one crutch, and most of the time I experience muscle pain in the groin/adductor area.

But it makes sense I’d need to go down to one crutch if I want to go down to one crutch. Ha. However, I don’t want to do it too soon or grind down the joint. Or disturb the stem cells that were placed there a mere month ago. I was trying to wait until I was in less pain, but maybe in order to get in less pain I’ll need to increase my activity level…which would mean more pain until my body adjusts.

However, I also want to appropriately push myself. Hmm. I’ll give it some thought.