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Limpets

The alert among you may recall I had a frisky batch of hip surgery in October. Recovery has been steady but slow. I’m under the diligent care of an exercise physiologist — a slightly different critter to a physiotherapist, the exercise physiologist helps you manage chronic conditions with exercise; for me, that means helping me build up fitness while not compromising my brittle bones. (I like to imagine they’re made of the same stuff as lolly bananas.)

A big part of recovery has been learning patience. After surgery, as soon as I could get rid of my crutches, I was out walking in my lunchbreaks, desperate for the sunshine and fresh air and duckies. It took some gentle persuasion on the part of my endocrinologist to stop doing that until I’d seen the physiologist, which turned out to be A Very Good Thing. The physiologist has given me a daily walking limit as well as a whole bunch of stretches, squats and other startling exercises to strengthen the muscly bits all over while we slowly work back towards Dynamo Me. In December, I was walking 20 minutes per day, with rest days in between. Now it’s May and I’m walking 45 minutes per day.

Today I had to go very slowly and gently: as has occasionally happened after correcting some tightness in my recovering hip, my IT band is touchy and cranky. The IT band is the thick band of supportive tissue that runs down the outside of the leg, from the iliac crest (the top of your pelvis butterfly wing bones) to the tibia (the shin bone). Iliotibial is a lot of fun to say, but you and I are busy people so we’ll call it the IT band. Anyway, mine’s ouchy and I’m Limpy McGee. I went for a slow, cautious walk and it was good, but not great. It’s hard to enjoy the birds and the view if you’re thinking carefully about each step and how it feels.

zingpowie

limpy limpet says zingpowie

If I can only do a gentle 20 minute walk, it’s still worth it to get outside and move around. The temptation to go harder faster longer fiercer is all but dissolved in the knowledge that going harder will hurt and not make me feel at all the way I’d like to feel — if the goal is to feel amazing, going harder isn’t going to do that, even though it did once. Going up to 45 minutes per day is fantastic, but only because I was ready to do so. My legs are steady and stable, and there’s no threat to the bones. Hooray for the patient patient!

IT band ouchiness can be pretty easily treated (at this level, I mean: if you haven’t been able to use your leg for two years because of it, I’m sorry, but see a doctor). Rest, heat packs, cool packs, and my good friend the tennis ball are easing out the ouch. (Seriously, google tennis ball massage and you’ll learn one of the best self-care remedies in the history of the entire world.)

Another thing I’ve learned in seeing the physiologist regularly is that I may be an exceptional case because I actually do the exercises she sets me. The first time she asked if I had “had a chance to do those exercises I mentioned?”, I said yes, I’d been doing them three times a day. She was pleasantly astonished. I had a similar conversation with a sports massage therapist; and in the past I’ve had the same thing with a physio I saw about a shoulder issue — I get the impression that nobody ever does their homework. What the fuck, people? You pay good money to a specialist to get advice about how to treat a problem, and then don’t do what they suggest? Fer realz, people, pull your head in and your finger out and your socks up.

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