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/

 

Upping My Game

Considering trying some/all of these for a week, in addition to what I’m already doing, to see if it helps me move even more in the right direction:

  • SUPER IMPORTANT: Rotating lunge on weak leg. Twist to left. Sarah Duvall recommends this exercise too, here. This should help your pelvic floor as well. I notice an immediate positive difference in my strength and pain level when I do these. Also, the same day I started doing these, I noticed my leg length discrepancy (while sitting on couch and leaning back with knees drawn partially up) was noticeably less. To start off, I’m doing a bunch of isometric holds first and adding in a little bit of twisting where I can. This is quite the challenge. Considering taking this movement to the pool to see if I get greater range of motion)
  • Standing leg extension for hamstrings and glutes. Progress to band when you can. Use with EMS Unit.
  • Practice putting as much weight as you can on weak leg while in internal rotation. I seem to stand better on one leg when in internal rotation, as opposed to external.
  • Glute bridge
  • Laying on stomach leg extension with EMS Unit
  • Fire hydrant tissue work
  • Walking in park or on treadmill (have done this just a couple times in the last week, so let’s do more)
  • Reverse clam
  • Normal clam (when you can do it without popping and clicking and excessive TFL activation)

Back to Doing Photo Shoots – After Six Months!

Today was an important milestone. I did my first photo shoot in six months, and I did it on ONE crutch (which was a spur of the moment decision).

I last approximately 57-ish minutes on one crutch, woot!

And it gets crazier. I went home, sat on the couch for an hour doing computer work, and when I got up my left leg/hip muscles were still turned “on”, and there was significantly less pain than when I normally just stand up from sitting. I remember going, “Whoa” as I put weight on the leg and felt it hold me up. Later on when I sat back down, and then got up again, it was more “off” like normal, but still, we’re making progress.

This changes things. While it’s still tough work being on one crutch, I need to do that more. I have grocery shopping at Kroger in my sites, and then eventually working up to the larger, Meijer.

I’d also like to start using one crutch when I walk into and out of the pool facilities. In fact, I did that today. It was a challenge (especially since I’d already completed the photo shoot in the morning, so my legs were a bit worn out), but I did it.

The strides forward (no pun intended) I’ve made these past eight days have been more than usual, and very encouraging. So what have I been doing?

  • Using my EMS (electrical muscle stimulator thingamajig) unit to help stimulate my muscle fibers while doing many of the movements listed below. I use the EMS unit 2-3 times per day, in about 10-20 minute increments each time.
  • while standing, I’ll tighten my glute medius/side muscles and let it propel my hips in the opposite direction. Important is that I keep both feet planted. It’s harder to do this on my left side than right, obviously. I’ll do a variation of this while leaning on each leg, on tiptoe, etc, whatever I can think of in the moment.
  • while standing, I’ll do a modified “hip hike”, where I’ll let my glute medius lift the hip and then propel it outward.
  • micro lunges, while twisting towards the leg that is forward and tightening the glute behind me. It’s really cool seeing the progress on these, it was painful to do them at all, even with shallow movements. As of today, however, it’s way easier. I only experience minor pain when doing shallow micro lunges. Now I can start making them a little deeper.
  • gentle deadlift/hip hinge bow
  • gentle leg extensions while leaning over counter, some while standing.
  • shifting weight side-to-side, then front and back
  • placing left leg slightly in front of me, as if I were going to take a step. And then slowly shifting my weight onto that leg. I only go as far as I can with minimal pain (I can’t get far yet). This one seemed to reduce my pain when walking with crutches and moving around in general. I’ve also started twisting away from the leg that is forward.
  • taking the stairs on occasion
  • 5-7 minutes on the elliptical (not every day yet)
  • stationary cycling
  • holding a side plank in the jacuzzi, starting today. This was challenging, even in water. Eventually I want to be able to lift the leg on top comfortably.
  • aqua exercises/jacuzzi routine for general tissue work and conditioning

Future progressions I’m considering:

  • adding weight to the leg extension while leaning over counter
  • doing the leg extension while laying flat on my stomach on the floor
  • standing on one freaking leg, yeah!
  • being able to do side-lying leg raises
  • being able to lay on my back and lift my leg
  • walking on the treadmill

Undeniable – Positive Changes, Slowly but Surely

Since Thursday August 23, I’ve been “Greasing the Groove”, often with my EMS unit, and generally being on my feet more. When I’m on my feet, I try to move correctly and use neuromuscular-minded movement, although I still have a way to go. I also do repetitive drills throughout the day. I also take more time to make dinner (as opposed to rushing through it in order to get off my feet, or not making it at all). On Monday, I was on my feet for an hour to make dinner, and I could barely do it. On Tuesday (yesterday), I was on my feet for nearly two hours at dinnertime. While it wasn’t as much moving around (maybe?), it was much easier than the day before.

For the last 3 days, I’ve also been doing mini “triathlons” as I like to call them: I’ll hop on my stationary bike for about 10 minutes, then the elliptical/adaptive strider at the gym for 5-7 minutes, and then I do my aqua routine, which includes mobility work in the jacuzzi. I’m still trying to figure out when I should work in active rest days, as it’s not a ton of activity, but I don’t want to overdo it.

The results so far? By night time, I’m usually feet-aching did-I-rub-down-my-cartilage tired. It’s alot of work, physically and mentally. But when I got up this morning, I noticed I have slightly more power in my posterior chain, and as I maneuver around the kitchen, I can use my stabilizing muscles to help me stand ever so straighter.

Interesting struggle: It’s so hard for me to get a good left glute squeeze. Instead, I tend to clench my jaw and pelvic floor automatically. This needs to stop. I’m working on it.

Interesting realization: it’s been weeks since I’ve had hamstring pain on my left (weak) side.

I’m definitely a little better, and definitely not worse. Despite my constant fears of grinding down the joint (it’s so hard to get the bone-on-bone MRI and Xray images out of my head), there is an increase in strength, and a decrease in pain.

Seeing Improvements as I Grease the Groove

It’s been approximately 2 days since I’ve been “Greasing the Groove”, and I’m seeing improvements in strength and a decrease in pain already.

This morning when I leaned over the counter and extended my painful weak leg behind me in a straight-leg extension to work my glutes, I was able to knock out 10-12 slow, gentle movements with much less pain and no clicking. Mind you, I didn’t lift my leg too high, but I usually don’t. It seemed to take much less effort to lift the leg, as if my glutes were more turned on. Just a couple days ago, I’d do the movement and getting pain and clicking immediately, before the leg even moved.

This is crazy.

Also, as soon as I started walking around this morning, I could feel my body wanting to attempt to stand straighter when I walked on the left side.  It’s as if my glute medius/stabilizing muscles are trying to kick in.

Summary of what I’ve been doing to bring these changes…

Over the past two days, I’ve been greasing the groove with tiny little exercises, all while standing. Notable is that the first day I started doing these exercises, I noticed an increase in strength and a decrease in pain. And I mean, right away, especially with the exercise where I step forward and place a little weight on my left side, as if I’m going to take a step forward (but I don’t yet, because I’m not quite strong enough). By right away, I mean as soon as I finished the movement, and then grabbed my crutch to hobble across the living room, the movement was notably easier. It was the type of improvement that would normally take weeks for me to feel.

So what have I been doing? Here’s a summary below. Note that I’ve added some movements as compared to when I originally started:

  • yesterday, I starting using my EMS (electrical muscle stimulator thingamajig) unit to help stimulate my muscle fibers while doing many of the movements listed below. I used the EMS unit about 3 times throughout the morning, and into the afternoon.
  • while standing, I’ll tighten my glute medius/side muscles and let it propel my hips in the opposite direction. It’s harder to do this on my left side than right, obviously. I’ll do a variation of this while leaning on each leg, on tiptoe, etc, whatever I can think of in the moment.
  • while standing, I’ll do a modified “hip hike”, where I’ll let my glute medius lift the hip and then propel it outward.
  • micro lunges
  • gentle deadlift/hip hinge bow
  • gentle leg extensions while leaning over counter, some while standing.
  • shifting weight side-to-side, then front and back
  • placing left leg slightly in front of me, as if I were going to take a step. And then slowly shifting my weight onto that left. Only go as far as you can with minimal pain (I can’t get far yet). This one seemed to reduce my pain when walking with crutches and moving around in general.
  • take the stairs on occasion
  • 5-7 minutes on the elliptical (not every day yet)
  • aqua exercises/jacuzzi routine for general tissue work and conditioning

This is encouraging. I think I’ll keep at this and see how it goes. In the back of my mind I hope I’m not doing damage to the joint, but at the same time if I’m in less pain and feel more strength, then shouldn’t I pursue it?

And it’s cool to think of some of the progressions that are possible, such as:

  • adding weight to the leg extension while leaning over counter
  • doing the leg extension while laying flat on my stomach on the floor
  • standing on one freaking leg, yeah!

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.