Sunday, September 25, 2011

More miles and Physical Therapy

Before I had my arthroscopic hip surgery for a labral tear, I had read to expect to start running 2-3 months post surgery if all things went well. This Monday was the 8th week post surgery and today was exactly 2 months. I did not expect to start running until the end of October. This week I ran 21 miles. Things are going real well.

 Monday: 5 miles in Mine Falls
Tuesday: 4 miles (first run on roads post surgery)
Wednesday: recovery
Thursday: first physical therapy appointment
Friday: 8 miles on the road (felt good- about 2 minutes slower per mile than normal)
Saturday: 4 miles road
Sunday: 10 miles mountain bike
Total 21 miles
I was really tempted to run 4 more miles today to make it 25. I could have, but it wouldn't have been smart. My hip feels good, but I still get tight hip flexors and a day off from running sounds smarter than to just push things.

Thursday I went to physical therapy for the first time post surgery. I had to ask for it, just to make sure I am doing things correctly and to move things along without getting hurt. It was a smart decision. I went back to Leigh Boyle at Pinnacle Physical Therapy. Leigh also runs the excellent Athletes Treating Athletes website and blog. It is an hour drive to get there and I am sure there are thousands of physical therapists working closer, but I want to go where I can get the right treatment and advice. Leigh worked on my hip last winter, so it was interesting to see what she thought of my surgery. I think she was surprised that I was running already as she said most doctors don't give the OK to run until 3 months post surgery. I had been told to start light jogging just weeks after surgery and as long as I felt OK, I could run. This is partially why I wanted to see a physical therapist. Why ruin the surgery by running too soon.

 Leigh tested out my hips range of motion and she was impressed by what it can now do, that it couldn't do last winter. My internal and external rotation is greatly improved. I asked her about the "synovial impingement" that was debrided. She said that along with the labrum (which was torn) this tissue was supposed to hold my femur in place. It was not. When she would mobilize my hip last winter, it was just clunking around with no support. Now post surgery, it is good and secure. She said that I was really messed up last winter and that my leg could not extend back properly. I was given four stretches to work on. It is nice to do them as they take away the tension in the muscles around my hips after a workout. They are all stretches that I have tried in the past with my bad hip, and that I learned to avoid because they would pull my femur around in my hip and lead to problems more often then a solution. Now I feel that my hip joint is solid and it stretches the surrounding muscles rather than mess up the joint itself.

This has more meaning for me post surgery: it wasn't the win, it was how I did it.

Anyhow, the discovery of the tear, the surgery, and now the recovery makes me feel strangely proud of the many years I have been running with this bad hip. I recall many times trying to explain how that hip didn't seem to work right, how it had no stability and clunked around, and how I literally had to concentrate on every running step for years just trying to make it work. I am sure many people thought I was nuts and just liked complaining. Last summer, my goal was to beat that hip up and work it as hard as possible to try to fix it and I knew that if nothing worked, I had to consider a "tear" or possibly surgery of some other kind. In July I ran a week of 75 miles and another week of 85 miles (52 miles in 3 days). I raced a lot. In August I ran 12 races before finally giving up at the end of the month knowing that my hip really needed fixing. I think of one race in particular, the Moose on the Loose 10 miler. I wanted to win my age group because it was an RRCA state championship race. My hip felt horrible in this race. I felt like I was running on one leg and using the left leg for support and balance, but it just seemed to be "stuck" in positions that didn't make it easy to run. Every step was miserable. I had to work hard to pass a guy ahead of me win my age group, but no one will really know how hard it was to move during that race. Performances like that are something I hope I never have to replicate, but it makes me proud that I persevered.

I also showed Leigh the pictures from my surgery (as seen here). She said ideally they should look white. The labral tear (in red) shows how bad it was and the yellow in the bottom pictures show old debris. It is a good thing I got that surgery and it feels good to know I am on the path back to running pain free again.

Congratulation to Patrick Makau for setting an official world record in the marathon this morning in Berlin. I still think the two faster times run at Boston this year by Geoffrey Mutai and Moses Mosop should be recognized with Mutai being the world record holder.

Watch more video of 38th BMW Berlin Marathon 2011 on

This new book from the author of The Entrepreneurial Patient blog is a must read book for anyone with hip problems and is thinking about about arthroscopic hip surgery or has had arthroscopic hip surgery for a labral tear or FAI.

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