Greasing the Groove

While it’s all the rage to go hard and fast with a chosen workout routine these days, perhaps I’d be served best by “greasing the groove” – as in, doing a little bit each day.

Months ago, it hurt to even point my toes while lying down – and on both feet. It felt like a thin bolt of lightning down the back of my leg, just under the calf and extending to my achilles tendon. The movement was also accompanied by weakness, as if I didn’t have full control. Alarming, to say the least. I don’t know what caused this, but I think perhaps the muscles were getting weak/imbalanced since I was walking so oddly, and without crutches at the time. Once I started using crutches, I also made it a point to flex and point my toes while lying on the couch and watching TV. How often, I don’t know, but it became a semi-habit. I was unconsciously “greasing the wheel”.

And I can’t remember exactly when, but over time the pain lessened, and then went away. For months now, it’s been a non-issue, but I haven’t dwelled much on it. But perhaps I should. Perhaps because the muscles were slowly strengthened / re-educated on how to move?

What if I need to “grease the groove” for my hip/leg muscles?

And what if this is the case for my hip? What if my much of my pain is coming from freaked out/imbalanced muscles? Even if this is only partially the case, I should pursue this. Totally worth it if I were able to reduce my pain by 50% for example. If I could cut my pain in half, I think I’d lose my mind with joy.

So I think I need to try this with my left hip. I’ve experimented with simple strengthening movements this morning, and feel the difference already. For example, every time I get up, I do some micro lunges withe the weak leg forward in order to target the hamstring and glutes. This movement creates that shooting sensation of pain that leads to the audible sound of things cracking in my leg (I still can’t put my finger on where. The knee? The hip joint?), so I move SUPER slow and gentle. Every time I do it I hope I’m not doing damage/wearing away cartilage, and yet it’s such a basic movement I’m tired of avoiding it. If I want to walk again, I need to be able to do things like this. And I keep the lunge angle to a minimum. Seriously. This is a regression of a mini lunge. It’s a freakin’ micro lunge, y’all.

Then, with my leg still out in front of me, I’ll lower myself into a gentle Romanian Deadlift-esque bow/hip hinge with my weak heel pressing into the ground in order to gently strengthen my glutes and hamstrings.

Then I’ll lean against a nearby counter and extend my weak leg behind me in a slow, mini extension move. I try to do 5-10, although sometimes I’ll quit early because, again, the crackling and shooting pains.

Then I’ll stand up straight and tall, and gently shift my weight from side to side., then front and back. Being able to shift my weight over to the weak side is new, and I like it. Still can’t get all my weight over there, and I can’t stand on one leg yet, but I’d like to think I’ll get there eventually. Interesting that putting my weak leg in front of me and shifting my weight slowly onto the heal is the most difficult and painful.

It seems like I’m thinking up new movements every day. Some of them don’t have names, ha.

Then, I did something I don’t usually do: I slowly took the flight of stairs up to the second floor. On average, I go up and down the stairs ONCE per day. But what if I made it 3-5 times per day? It’s a short flight, and I understand that I need to be careful because it’s such a weight-bearing movement. But it didn’t kill me. Wasn’t too bad, actually. For some reason, going up the stairs is easier than walking forward on level ground. Beat’s me.

This afternoon, I think I’ll do 5-7 minutes of the elliptical. What if I kept it short like that and just did a little every day? As opposed to killing myself doing 14 minutes (like last time), and then avoiding the thing for 4 days because I dread doing it again. Then I question my whole reason for even doing the elliptical, and then I question why I even bother with any of this, and then I question why I even both with life.

Best to avoid and prevent that train of thought.

This all adds up to a slightly higher activity level than I’m accustomed to. My hope is that my body adjusts over time, and I get over dreading being on my feet. An added benefit is higher moral. If I’m not killing my muscles all the time (which can be painful), I won’t dread doing the exercises / movements as much.

So in a nutshell, this is how I may “grease the groove” moving forward:

  • micro lunges
  • gentle deadlift/hip hinge bow
  • gentle leg extensions
  • 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
  • usual aqua exercises/jacuzzi routine

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